Washougal teachers and the Washougal School District have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.
The contract will be presented to Washougal Association of Educators members Oct. 18 for ratification and to Washougal School Board members for their approval on Oct. 25, according to James Bennett, president of the Washougal teachers’ union.
“We’re pleased that we were able to reach a tentative agreement,” said Aaron Hansen, the Washougal School District’s assistant superintendent for human resources and student services. “We’re excited. We’ve spent a lot of time working on this together collaboratively, (and we can now) really focus on those things that are super important to us right now — supporting our students. I do feel good about our work. There’s a level of collaboration that occurred, as we are all on the same team working for the same goals. I would say that we feel good about the decisions that were made.”
Bennett said that he’s “quite pleased” with the agreement.
“There are compromises on both sides, of course, but we feel really good about the gains that we’ve made and the language that we have going into the future with this contract,” he said. “I feel confident (that teachers will) be happy with the deal.”
WAE representatives and the district’s bargaining team members met for about nine hours on Sept. 26 and Sept. 29 to reach the tentative agreement.
The teachers’ union asked the district to provide a 5.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment that is in line with other districts in Clark County. The district initially offered a 4 percent COLA, then increased its offer to 5.5 percent and finally 7 percent, a number that union leaders deemed acceptable.
The district also offered a 3 percent cost-of-living increase in the second year of the contract, as well as one additional paid day off and additional funding for longevity stipends.
If the contract is approved, Washougal teachers at the top end of the pay scale will make $112,585 in total compensation “and would still be among the highest paid teachers in the region,” according to the district’s website.
Washougal teachers have been working since Aug. 30 under the terms of their former contract, which expired at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
Bennett said that the possibility of a work stoppage “was discussed” but not seriously considered by union members.