The D.C. Board of Education yesterday approved a contract with the Washington Teacher's Union that gives the city's 4,500 teachers annual pay increases of about 3 percent during the next three years and leaves the school day and school year at their current lengths.

Union President Harold Fisher said of the negotiations that while he believed teachers had made significant gains, he was not satisfied with the pay increases.

The union had originally asked for pay increases totaling 38 percent over three years but compromised with board negotiators on the new contract, which will take effect this month, Fisher said.

Fisher, who ousted longtime union leader William Simons in a May election, said, "The 9 percent increase shows what can happen when you come into a contract that is not yours. The previous administration set up this contract. We had two months to close the loopholes and there were many loopholes in it. Next time, we'll have a full period of time to negotiate."

Fisher added that he believed teachers lost no significant benefits during this latest round of talks. For example, he said, the new contract leaves intact current provisions for dental and optical benefits.

Kenneth Nickoles, director of labor relations for the school system, said, "The board would like to give more money to teachers, but we have to be realistic in terms of our budget restraints."