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News / Clark County News

Woodland teachers approve new deal

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: August 17, 2018, 1:51pm

Woodland teachers voted in favor of a new salary agreement at a general membership meeting Friday morning, making the school district the first in Clark County to settle during a summer in which all districts are involved in tense negotiations.

The new agreement will give teachers in Woodland a 22.82 percent increase in base salary, which nets a roughly 12.5 increase in overall salary compensation from the year prior, according to Superintendent Michael Green. With the new state funding model for education, the district will lose about 30 percent of its local levy capacity, which is the reason for the difference between the increase in base salary and the overall compensation.

“We believe we have a fair resolution that’s supportive of teachers and responsible to taxpayers,” Green said.

Shari Conditt, president of the Woodland Education Association, said the vote was significantly in favor of the agreement but declined to go into specific numbers.

“We’re all excited to get back to the business of teaching and learning,” Conditt said. “We can positively move forward and get excited for another school year.”

Districts around Washington are negotiating new salaries, thanks to an influx of money for education from the state.

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, and the Legislature added another nearly $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.

The increase in Woodland comes from an 11 percent local enhancement from state funds and an additional 10.6 percent raise, Green said. The state also provided additional funding for a professional learning day.

The Woodland union is two years into a four-year collective bargaining agreement so it just discussed salary with the district. It already has an agreement in place for 20 employee optional days and six district-directed days. The employee optional days are used for such things as preparing the upcoming curriculum, attending an event or coming in on a day between semesters to prepare.

Previously, teachers had to keep track of those days and have an administrator sign off on them. Now, the days are rolled into the total salary compensation package, Conditt said. “This simplifies the process,” she said.

The six district-directed days are used for professional learning that district administrators think would benefit teachers.

Conditt said she’s happy Woodland teachers can put negotiations behind them and that she felt like the district stood by them the entire time. Elsewhere in the county, unions and districts are still in dispute, with some districts nearing potential strike votes.

One issue that has made negotiating tricky, Conditt said, is that it’s “really difficult to create parallels from one district to another.” Some districts get more funding based on cost of living, called regionalization, while others don’t. Woodland didn’t receive any additional funding for regionalization. Still, she felt the union and district worked well together to get a fair deal done.

“Districts and their associations are partnerships,” she said. “It’s in everybody’s interest to have fair and appropriate compensation. School boards want districts to pay their teachers, and I think communities want that. If we work in partnership, it’s a more positive relationship than assuming we’re rowing the boat in a different direction.”

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Columbian Staff Writer