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News / Clark County News

Evergreen, union reach contract agreement; teachers vote Tuesday

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: August 29, 2016, 7:50am

After working late into the night, Evergreen Public Schools and its teachers’ union reached a tentative contract agreement at 3:04 Monday morning.

According to a Facebook post from the union, the Evergreen Education Association, the district and union settled signed the final contract paperwork at 4:15 a.m., ending 14 months of negotiations. The union’s membership must ratify the agreement at its meeting Tuesday evening at the Clark County Fairgrounds, however, to make it official.

“Thank you EEA members for your hard work and unity – and for standing strong for our students!” union officials wrote in the Facebook post.

A news release from the school district says the three-year agreement will grant teachers “significant pay raises” in addition to state cost-of-living adjustments. The union and district were also negotiating curriculum, more support for special education students, additional counselors and securing enough substitute teachers by offering higher pay.

“The District and EEA also addressed their mutual interest in making improvements in areas such as the substitute shortage, support for special needs students, and increasing access to counseling and other support services for the District’s neediest students,” the district said in the statement.

More details of the contract will not be announced until Tuesday’s ratification meeting for Evergreen’s 1,830 teachers, but Union President Rob Lutz said he was proud of the deal they reached.

“The membership gave me a directive to not bring back a contract that didn’t meet the five needs,” Lutz said. “We were successful in that.”

To ratify the contract, a third – or 610 – of those teachers will have to attend. Of those, a simple majority will have to vote to approve the contract.

The decision signals the end of bargaining between the district and the union – and clears the way for students to go back to school this week without being interrupted by a teacher strike. Negotiations have been ongoing since March with the assistance of a state-appointed mediator.

The current contract between the district and its teachers expires Wednesday. With a walk-out appearing increasingly likely last week as negotiations continued to stall, the school district filed an injunction to prohibit the teachers from striking.

Clark County Judge Suzan Clark issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting teachers from striking on Wednesday, saying it would be too much of a burden for parents to secure childcare hours before school started. The status of that injunction – which a judge was supposed to weigh in on Wednesday afternoon – remains in question pending Tuesday’s vote.

Evergreen teachers made between $40,417 and $76,179 in total compensation during the 2015-2016 school year. Without additional district money added to their pay through bargaining, district teachers would earn between $41,144 and $77,549 during the 2016-2017 school year. That pay increase is the result of additional state money approved earlier this year.

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Columbian Education Reporter