Wednesday night, the Camas school district and the Camas Education Association reached their first tentative agreement since negotiations began months ago. The 450 union members will soon vote on whether to accept the terms, and if the agreement is approved by more than 50% of the union, school will be back in session.
Until then, teachers will be on the picket lines while 7,300 students remain at home.
Family opinions on the strike remain split: Parents say they all agree they want their kids back in the classroom, but some blame the administration and others blame the teachers’ union for the current standoff.
Those in support of teachers held a rally on Wednesday to help the Camas Education Association. The teacher’s union says they want smaller class sizes; a cost of living increase that matches the area’s current inflation rate; and art, music and physical education classes.
“If we can’t give them the minimum that they’re asking for, which is below inflation, right, then we’re going to lose our best teachers and we’ve already burnt out so many teachers during the pandemic,” said Sarah of Parent Supporting Teachers.
Kristin Brooks, whose son is a Camas kindergartener, said she doesn’t feel the district is moving in the right direction.
“For him to be one of 24, he’s just gonna get lost,” she said. “So I just feel like it’s really disruptive to our family right now with us trying to figure out plan B.”
So far, the district has offered a lower cost of living increase while the district and education association reframe other priorities. However, a deal has yet to be made, and a mediator joined the effort last week to speak to each side.
But some parents, like Jon Kravetz, hope to speed along that process.
“My daughter was really excited and then poof: We’re not going to have school because of a teacher strike,” he said of his daughter, who will begin fourth grade this year.
Kravetz has created a Facebook group with several other parents to explore legal options to end the strike.
“I personally believe that the teachers and Camas have been treated well,” Kravetz said. “Like, things aren’t perfect, but like we’re going through a rough time in the economy and everyone else has kind of had to cut some costs out of their budget.”
He said the break from school it’s financially harming him and other parents – and depriving kids the right of an education. He told KOIN 6 that the strike is “tearing at the fabric of the community.”
“It’s hurting children, it’s hurting families,” he said. “And we need to get our teachers back to work one way or another.”
On Wednesday evening, the Camas School District announced that they came to an agreement on a three-year tentative bargaining agreement with the Public School Employees union. The union represents custodians, bus drivers, paraeducators, food services workers, technology, mechanics, and maintenance employees.