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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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Woodland schools, teachers reach salary agreement

Union scheduled to hold ratification vote on Friday

By , Columbian Staff Writer

With the start of the school year looming, teachers in Woodland could be the first in the county to agree to a new salary schedule with their district.

Woodland Public Schools and the Woodland Education Association came to an agreement during a bargaining session Sunday night that would give the teachers a 22.82 percent increase on their base salary. In the upcoming school year, first-year teachers in the district with no professional experience can make $46,600 and a teacher with a master’s degree and 90 credits teaching for 16 years or more can make $87,832. For the 2019-2020 school year, those salaries jump to $48,676 and $91,746, respectively.

On top of their base salary, teachers earn extra pay for employee optional days and district directed days.

The union will hold a ratification vote on the agreement Friday, according to Shari Conditt, president of the association.

“Both sides were on the same page in recognizing that there had to be increased compensation,” Conditt said.

District officials didn’t want to speak about the agreement before it is ratified, saying “we are honoring the negotiation process by not releasing any details to the press.”

It has, and continues to be, a tense summer of negotiations throughout the state between school districts and teacher unions. The McCleary decision, a Supreme Court case that determined Washington was failing to fully fund basic education, allocated $7.3 billion to the state school system last year. The Legislature added nearly another $1 billion for teacher salaries this year. The Washington Education Association is pushing its membership to ask for 15 percent raises for certified teachers, and 37 percent raises for the classified support staff represented by some teachers unions.

Districts and unions have spent the summer negotiating for new deals, and most Clark County school districts still appear to have some distance between them with just a few weeks until the start of school.

In Woodland, teachers are entering the third year of a four-year collective bargaining agreement, so this summer was solely about increasing base compensation for teachers. Conditt said that she and other bargaining team members in the union went to each building and talked to teachers about what was important to them in a new agreement. That way, when bargaining started, the team had four goals to keep in mind:

• Ensure that the district could provide a quality salary to teachers, especially new teachers to attract them to the district.

• Have a salary model that retains teachers.

• Take care of veteran teachers in helping them make up for past years when some have taken a pay cut.

• Show a desire for teachers to continue learning.

“We know that professional learning trickles down into the classroom,” Conditt said. “I become a stronger teacher because I’m a learner.”

Conditt said the district and union have a respectful relationship, and the two had a problem-solving mentality during negotiations that led to the agreement.

“There has to be good faith between a district and the union to move forward,” she said. “One of the most controversial things to talk about is money. We want to agree on class size. We can agree on work conditions. Money is something hard to talk about at home. Trying to do that on a districtwide level, we’re talking about people’s livelihoods.”

Columbian Staff Writer