Ocean View Teachers Assn. leaders have tentatively agreed to a contract that would offer a 4.25% raise retroactive to the 1998-99 school year and a 4.75% increase for the next school year.

"I think it's terrific we were able to settle for '98-'99 [and] to extend it into 1999-2000," said John Tennant, assistant superintendent of human resources.

The district and the teachers association have been at odds since December. Many teachers have made frequent visits to recent school board meetings to urge the board to support them in getting better health and retirement benefits and raising teacher salaries, which currently rank the lowest in the county.

Aside from the raises, the tentative agreement states that health and welfare benefits will increase from $4,606 to $5,070 for a full-time teacher, with additional funds set aside for emergency cases, Tennant said. Teachers also would receive retirement health benefits, with the district contributing 100% of the least expensive medical plan for eligible retirees ages 60 to 65.

Mary Ellen Berumen, president of the teachers association, said she would not comment on the tentative agreement until she met with the other members. They are set to vote on the agreement July 21.

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