VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Though 4 districts have reached deals with teachers, others in southwest Washington continue to hammer out details at the negotiating table.
Evergreen, Washougal, Battle Ground and Longview remain on strike. Early Tuesday, Evergreen, Washougal and Battle Ground announced school was closed for Wednesday.
In a statement released Tuesday, Evergreen Public School officials said both sides “are reviewing the recent district proposal and information” put together over 3 days of bargaining with a state-appointed mediator.
The mediator is scheduled to return Wednesday for the next bargaining session.
That means the 1800 teachers in Evergreen — Washington’s 6th-largest school district — will remain on strike “and will not return to classrooms unless they have an amended agreement to their current contract.”
Families in the Evergreen district will get a daily update from the district. School buildings are closed, but the food service program will be providing lunch at Crestline Elementary.
Athletics are still in progress, since coaches are covered under a separate contract.
Both the Washougal School District and the Washougal Association of Educators are mulling over a proposal from Monday. But as of this writing, no agreement has been reached.
District officials also announced there is no school on Wednesday.
The district and the teachers union negotiated for 12 hours on Labor Day with a state-appointed mediator but did not reach an agreement. Another bargaining session is underway on Tuesday but officials already canceled classes for Wednesday.
As in Evergreen, athletics will continue and lunch programs will be served on a limited basis.
Longview teachers say they are frustrated by the little movement over salary negotiations. They were about to start the second year of a 2-year deal but are bargaining now for part of the new state money earmarked for teachers.
The district said teachers got an 8% raise last year were getting a 4% raise this year. That offer is now 7%, but Superintendent Dan Zorn told KOIN 6 News he doesn’t want to promise more money he says can’t be delivered.
“For us in the 2nd year, in that ’19-’20 year, our estimates have us receiving $2 million less in revenue as a result of the new McCleary legislation,” Zorn said, “because of the drop in the levy lid.”
But teachers maintain state money is there for higher raises, such as those seen in other districts.
“The district got close to $6 million of McCleary money,” teacher Kelley Smith said. “That is new money. The levy cap they talk about hasn’t gone into place yet, so right now they have a lot of money.”
Teachers want Zorn to join district negotiators at the bargaining sessions. Zorn said there is already a negotiating team in place and he has other responsibilities to handle.
Asked if Longview would go to court to force teachers back to the classroom, Zorn said, “That’s under consideration right now. That decision has not yet been made.”