VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Ridgefield teachers and staff voted Monday to give union representatives the authority to call for a strike if an agreement on a new contract can’t be reached with the school district.

The Ridgefield Education Association (REA) bargaining team says they have met with the Ridgefield School District for months, but the two sides remain far apart — with 92% of members rejecting the district’s last offer.

Teachers say they are striving for investment in smaller class sizes, special education and competitive pay.

“We want a deal that makes sure students get the support they deserve, whether that’s through smaller class sizes and more individualized attention, easier and timely access to special education staff, or ensuring the people with the critical job of educating our kids can support themselves and their families,” REA Co-President Elizabeth Stamp said. “District leaders have not yet agreed to these priorities. Our membership sent a clear message that the district needs to get on board.”

REA, which represents more than 200 certificated staff and teachers in the district, says they are attempting to reach a contract agreement as soon as possible to avoid disruption of the school year.

The current contract expires on Wednesday, which is also the district’s first day of school.

The next meeting between the two sides will take place on Sept. 7, after which REA says they will decide whether to go on strike or not.