LEESBURG – Lake County teachers ratified their contract with the School Board Wednesday night.

The contract, negotiated by the Lake County Education Association and Lake County School Board, includes teacher raises of $1,500 to $2,025, or between 2.9 and 3.8 percent, with beginning teacher salaries increased to $40,000.

Further, the new agreement allows for retention of annual-contract teachers after a history of effective or highly effective evaluations, according to a press release from the LCEA.

There are additional incentives for teachers working in Title I schools and in low-performing schools, according to the agreement.

“The children of Lake County deserve the finest educational system our community can provide,” said Stuart Klatte, president of LCEA, in a statement. “We know that quality teachers are the single most important element in outstanding schools.”

LCEA representatives held a secret-ballot election at each school. Sixty three percent, or 1,210 teachers, voted for the contract, while 715 voted against it.

“The number of no votes indicates dissatisfaction with the overall salary proposal for experienced career teachers,” said Terri Stevens, LCEA Board member in a statement.

School Board Chairman Bill Mathias said he was pleased the contract was ratified.

“We are competitive in Central Florida to recruit the best and brightest teachers for the benefit of our students,” he said.