Back to school: 4 districts ratify teacher deals

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Four districts in southwest Washington are heading back to school,after ratifying new contracts.

Vancouver

The Vancouver Education Association overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the district, as 93% voted in favor of accepting the latest proposal. 

School will begin in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Vancouver had originally planned to start Wednesday, Aug. 29. 

Nearly all of the 1,600 members of the Vancouver Education Association showed up at Skyview High School on Tuesday morning to cast their ballots.

Previously, Vancouver Superintendent Steve Webb released a statement regarding the agreement. 

“Unlike other districts that only had to address teacher salaries, VEA and VPS had to negotiate an entire contract,” said VPS Superintendent Steve Webb. “I am grateful to the bargaining teams for working very hard together to come to an agreement. And, I especially want to thank our teachers and staff, parents and community members for their patience and understanding as we completed this difficult process.

“Vancouver Public Schools is so fortunate to have an talented and dedicated teacher workforce with educators who are passionate about preparing young people for their future. We look forward to beginning the school year and continuing to serve our 24,000 students and their families.”

Hockinson

Hockinson, which unanimously voted to ratify the agreement on Monday morning, as well as Vancouver and Camas announced Sunday night that they reached tentative agreements with their teacher associations, all of which had previously voted to strike.

Hockinson will officially start school on Tuesday.

Ridgefield

Ridgefield School District announced early Monday morning that they also reached a tentative agreement and will start school Tuesday. 

Monday afternoon, Ridgefield teachers ratified their new pay agreement by an overwhelming margin of 87-13. Teachers agreed to a 3-year deal that will boost pay around 16% the first year and by as much as 26% in the third year of the deal.

The district also agreed to reduce class sizes, outgoing union president Joe Thayer said. 

By the last year of this contract, some Ridgefield teachers will earn more than $100,000 a year.

Camas

Camas will start on Tuesday, which was its originally planned start day.

Teachers in the district voted to ratify the deal on Monday. 

School districts still bargaining 

Washougal, Battle Ground, Longview and Evergreen school districts are still on strike — canceling school once again for Tuesday. Battle Ground, Evergreen and Washougal also canceled classes Wednesday.

Evergreen Public Schools, like the other districts, spent the weekend in negotiations. Teams were up until 1 a.m. Monday trying to reach a deal.

EPS said they’re getting closer, however, on Tuesday, teachers told KOIN 6 News they were nowhere near a deal. 

“We’ve yet to receive an offer that our union has been willing to show us,” Jenova Wilson, a 5th grade teacher at Image Elementary, said.

The Evergreen Education Associated released a public letter, criticizing the superintendent for not prioritizing teacher compensation.

When asked what the district’s response was, communications director at EPS Gail Spolar said, “This is about the district and the union working together to come up with an agreement that is sustainable, fiscally for the district.”

Monday afternoon, a joint statement was issued by the Evergreen Public Schools and the Evergreen Education Association. It said, in part:

“We are continuing at the bargaining table today with sincere hopes of reaching an agreement. Given the fact that it is Monday afternoon, we want to update you that we are continuing to work towards reaching an agreement, but under the best of circumstances, would not be able to logistically start school Tuesday, September 4, 2018.”

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