The Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association has approved a Bakersfield City School District contract revision that gives the union its first raise since the 2007-08 school year.

Under the terms of the deal, employees will receive a 3.5 percent raise retroactive to the start of the 2013-14 school year. The district also is retroactively covering this year's rise in health insurance costs.

The tentative agreement was ratified Wednesday.

An existing contract for the period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015 was re-opened in order to make the change.

The district wanted to help employees who have gone without an increase during the years-long economic downtown, as well as protect its ability to recruit and retain employees, said BCSD Superintendent Robert Arias.

The money is coming out of the base portion of the Local Control Funding Formula, which allocates state education dollars for local districts, he said.

Union President Michelle Johnson couldn't be reached for comment.

The association represents 1,500 teachers, counselors, program specialists, speech therapists and nurses who work for BCSD. It is affiliated with the California Teachers Association.