Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

Linkedin Pinterest

Bus confusion a welcome headache as school starts in Woodland

Minor bumps take back seat to 'great' feeling of avoiding strike, beginning classes

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published:
5 Photos
Second-grade teacher Jazmin Rebstock calls for her students’ attention on the first day of school at Woodland Intermediate School. With teacher strikes in the Evergreen and Washougal districts, Woodland was the only school district to open Tuesday in Clark County.
Second-grade teacher Jazmin Rebstock calls for her students’ attention on the first day of school at Woodland Intermediate School. With teacher strikes in the Evergreen and Washougal districts, Woodland was the only school district to open Tuesday in Clark County. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

WOODLAND — There were some minor bumps at Woodland Intermediate School on the first day of school.

The district gave every bus a route number, whereas students used to previously find their route by looking at the numbers printed on buses. The new system confused some students, who stopped by the office toward the end of the day for help in figuring out which bus to take home.

On top of that, a large number of parents wanted to pick up their students after the first day, creating a logjam and making it difficult for buses to pull in the parking lot.

The slight issues were a welcome headache to school and district officials. After all, they were actually in school, something no other district in Clark County could say on Tuesday. Teachers in Evergreen and Washougal, the only other districts scheduled to start Tuesday, were on strike. The La Center School District is expected to start Wednesday, although the school district and teachers union have not returned requests for comment, so details of their agreement is unknown.

“It feels great,” Woodland Superintendent Michael Green said. “The kids are excited. The kids are happy. They’re ready to learn. The teachers are ready to teach.”

On Tuesday, roughly 510 second- to fourth-graders attended their first day of school. For Ezra Cline, 7, it was his first day of second grade, and a chance to see his school friends. He had typical first-day jitters, and was nervous about meeting new people.

“I liked everybody,” he said after school let out.

Tuesday was Principal Denise Pearl’s first day at Woodland Intermediate School. Before moving to Woodland, she was principal of Central Elementary School in the Hoquiam School District. Pearl said it was an exciting day, and that she has received a warm welcome to the city since moving to Woodland. She also said she was told the district and union have a collaborative relationship, so she was sure they’d work together to get a new deal in place by the start of school.

“I was hopeful that’s how it would play out,” Pearl said. “And it did.”

Green said the collaborative relationship was a big reason the two sides reached an agreement, which saw teachers in Woodland receive a 22.82 percent increase in base salary, which nets a roughly 12.5 increase in overall salary compensation from the year prior.

Teacher unions around the state are bargaining for new salary schedules for teachers thanks to the McCleary decision, a Supreme Court case that determined Washington was failing to fully fund basic education. As part of the decision, $7.3 billion was allocated 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.

Strikes are expected to continue for Evergreen and Washougal, and teachers in Vancouver, Battle Ground, Ridgefield and Hockinson are expected to start strikes of their own.

“What the Legislature gave us in terms of McCleary was inequalities between school districts,” Green said.

Green said that when district officials started seeing rumors of a strike pop up online, the district started sending out updates on bargaining. They also sent a robocall to parents recently reminding them that school was starting Tuesday.

Tags
 
Columbian Staff Writer
Loading...