PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Many students in the area are less than a week out from the first day of school, but 30,000 students in Washington’s Clark County may be home even longer.
The union representing Vancouver’s Evergreen Public Schools educators voted last night to authorize a strike if an agreement for better classroom support isn’t met – and Camas teachers are preparing for the same.
Those with the Camas Education Association spent most of Thursday bargaining a contract with the district, coming down to the wire before the district’s first day of school starts Monday. Without an agreement, 450 educators within the district could instead spend that day on the picket line.
Kate Gooding, a teacher at Camas High School, said the strike is about more than just paying to retain quality educators.
“We’re looking for smaller class sizes right now. Our classes are huge, it’s kind of a mess at the high school right now,” Gooding said. “We’re looking for more resources for students so there’s equitable teaching available for all of our students.”
Vancouver’s Evergreen Public Schools are also preparing to strike, after Wednesday night’s vote to go forward if a bargaining team and district management couldn’t reach a new contract.
Union representatives for Evergreen’s teachers say their goals are: receiving support for special needs students, time for teachers to plan amid a substitute teacher shortage, and cost of living adjustments to attract and retain teachers. Their first day of school is Wednesday – if teachers don’t strike.
EPS told KOIN 6 in a statement that they’re continuing to negotiate with the union to reach a deal fair to both sides and hope to resolve it before the scheduled start day of Aug. 30. We have yet to hear back from Camas school officials.
Meanwhile, some parents are less than thrilled that their children’s first day of school could be pushed back.
“Fix it, because our kids need to go to school. Our teachers need to go to work,” said Ricki Bridge, whose son is a high schooler in Vancouver.
She said she’s fortunate she works from home, but other parents aren’t as lucky. She told KOIN 6 she’s concerned for the strike’s impact on students.
“His education? It’s a bigger deal,” Bridge said. “Do I want my kid to go two more weeks in the summer next year? Heck no. Am I going to make him go two extra weeks because the superintendent can’t do his job? No.”
Gooding said she hopes the union comes to an agreement with her school district to prevent this outcome.
“It’s something that we don’t want to do. …But it’s a position our school district really unfortunately put us in,” Gooding said. “There’s nothing we want to do more than get back in the classroom on Monday and be with our students, but we need all of the support that we’re asking for to be able to do our jobs.”
And though she’s a parent, Bridge said she’s behind the Southwest Washington teachers “a thousand percent.”
“I’ll walk that line with them after I get off work,” she said. “I will walk that line with them because they deserve it.”