Thursday, March 30, 2023
March 30, 2023

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Ridgefield schools to be closed again Tuesday

Weekend negotiations fail to herald tentative deal

By , Columbian staff writer

Schools in Ridgefield will again be closed on Tuesday, marking the third day of closures as members of the Ridgefield Education Association remain on strike.

Teachers in Ridgefield continued picketing outside schools across the district on Monday, as negotiations between the teachers union and the Ridgefield School District still have yet to produce a tentative deal on a new contract.

The two sides met with a state mediator through the weekend and again on Monday, wrapping up their Monday session around 7 p.m. The district posted another updated packaged contract proposal after the Monday evening session concluded on their bargaining update webpage — which can be found here:

“Picketing today went well,” said Joe Thayer, a middle school teacher and former union president. “Our members remain committed to a fair contract.”

Thayer added that picketers in Ridgefield were joined by Larry DeLaney, the president of the Washington Education Association, the state teachers union. The Washington Education Association has been aiding Ridgefield as it continues navigating the bargaining process, just as they have been with a number of other districts striking across the state, including Seattle and Kent.

The priorities for the union in Ridgefield remain focusing on reductions in class sizes and caseloads for special education staffers, adding paraeducators and more.

As the strike continues, school buildings and offices will be closed and meal services will be suspended. Middle and high school athletics, however, will continue as scheduled. Students who attend Cascadia Tech Academy will attend their classes as scheduled, and will be able to take the bus to and from school at their usual location.

The union — which represents an estimated 200 certificated staff members in the district, namely classroom teachers — has been negotiating with the district throughout the summer. Union members have been working without a contract since Sept. 1 — the second day of the school year.