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Battle Ground parents unhappy about revised school calendar

The board voted to shorten spring break and New Year’s time off to make up for a 12-day teacher strike

BATTLE GROUND — With classes finally back in full swing in the Battle Ground School District, parents now have something else to debate — how the board went about making up for the 12 days missed due to the teacher strike.

Battle Ground teachers celebrate after ratifying a new 2-year contract this past weekend. Photo courtesy Battle Ground Education Association/Facebook
Battle Ground teachers celebrate after ratifying a new 2-year contract this past weekend. Photo courtesy Battle Ground Education Association/Facebook

On Tuesday evening, the board approved the amended calendar, which will end the school year on June 14, two days later than previously scheduled, with June 17 and 18 set aside as possible makeup days for cancellations due to snow. While the updated calendar keeps the Winter break intact, students will see major cuts to Spring Break, as well as an abbreviated New Year’s break.

Here are the major changes:

  • A full day on Fri., Oct. 12 (previously a teacher in-service day)
  • An early release on Wed., Nov. 21 (previously the start of the Thanksgiving break)
  • A one-hour late-start on Wed., Jan. 2 (students returning to class three days earlier than previously scheduled for the New Year’s break — includes full school days Jan. 3 and 4)
  • Full school days March 15 and May 3 (previously snow makeup days)
  • Full days on Monday and Tuesday, April 1 and 2 (Spring Break will now begin with an early release on Wed., April 3, with only April 4 and 5 as full days off)
  • Early release days on Thursday and Friday, June 13 and 14 (final day is June 14, barring any snow days)

The full calendar is available here.

The board said the changes were made to allow students as much study time as possible ahead of AP exams, state assessments, and college entrance deadlines that occur during the year. The plan also keeps graduation dates unchanged.

A number of parents took to social media to express their displeasure at the new calendar. A lot of people pre-plan work vacations to coincide with Spring Break or other weeks off during the school year, and a number said they’ll simply have to pull their children out of class during those weeks, rather than adjusting their own schedules. It is generally up to individual teachers whether to penalize a student for missing classes.

New contract details

Over the past weekend Battle Ground’s 860 certificated educators voted 99 percent in favor of accepting a new two-year contract. The district says it will include an average raise of 14.9 percent this year, with an additional 1.9 percent cost of living increase in year two. A starting teacher in Battle Ground this year will make $48,593, and a teacher at the top of the pay scale will earn $93,731.

The number is less than the 19.6 percent the union had been asking for until last week, but in a statement on their Facebook page BGEA says the raise includes all of the McCleary money sent to Battle Ground by the state. The district maintains that the raises may come at the cost of unfunded teachers next year.

The vote to approve the contract came one day after BGEA teachers voted 89 percent in favor of defying an order by Clark County Superior Court Judge Scott Collier that they return to work on Monday. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to rescind their previous resolution approving legal action against the teachers.

Also on Tuesday, the board voted 3-1 in favor of the new contract, with Monty Anderson as the lone no vote. Board president Ken Root recused himself from voting because his wife and son are teachers in the district.

The board also released a letter to the community which read, in part “The last three weeks have been difficult for our school district. Everyone — our students and families, teachers and classified staff and community members — has been impacted in some way by negotiations.

“Now that a new contract is in place, the best course of action that we can take is to come together, move forward, and heal,” the letter continues. “Nothing less than our students’ and community’s futures are at stake, and the effort that we put into working together today will make a difference in the education that the students receive tomorrow. We are fortunate to have passionate and driven teachers and staff who care for the well-being and education of our children.”

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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