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Evergreen teachers approve new deal, Battle Ground seeks state input

Evergreen students head back to school today, while Battle Ground is canceled through Tuesday as the district seeks an opinion from the state

CLARK COUNTY — And then there was one. With Evergreen School District and its 1,800 teachers reaching a tentative agreement on salary increases Sunday, only Battle Ground School District continues to be on strike.

Early Monday morning Battle Ground school district announced that they would keep schools closed at least through Tuesday. The district says they remain 8 percent, or $4.7 million apart from a deal with the Battle Ground Education Association (BGEA), which represents the district’s 800 certificated teachers.

Battle Ground teachers Barbara Holterman and Marina Heinz pose with students Spender and Jasmyn Yarger at a rally in June. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground teachers Barbara Holterman and Marina Heinz pose with students Spender and Jasmyn Yarger at a rally in June. Photo by Chris Brown

On Sunday, after 12 hours of negotiating, the district filed a Fact Finding request with the Public Employee Relations Commission.

“The district has been unable to settle its dispute with the Battle Ground Education Association regarding resolution of the parties’ open contract,” the request states. “At this point, the district believes the parties are deadlocked on the fundamental issue of available resources for employee compensation” and the legislation implementing the McCleary decision.

Fact Finding is a legal request that allows a PERC representative to examine issues between the two sides, and issue an opinion. Whatever conclusion PERC comes to would be non-binding, but the district says it is hopeful the added information will help lead to a resolution.

BGEA President Linda Peterson calls the district’s move a “delay tactic”.

“Battle Ground School District leaders have relinquished their responsibility to their students, parents, the community and their employees,” Peterson said in a statement posted on BGEA’s Facebook page. “BGSD leaders have punted their obligations to the Public Employees Relations Commission. The administration’s decision to request fact finding is so infuriating. After more than three months of bargaining, they continue to stonewall our efforts to negotiate a fair settlement.”

The district says their latest offer would increase teacher pay by an average of 11.6 percent this school year, representing a $6.6 million increase over last year’s budget. BGEA’s latest proposal, according to the district, is for a 19.6 percent increase, which would add $11.3 million in teacher salary costs.

The district received approximately $9.6 million in additional funding through the legislature’s McCleary funding fix, but says they are losing 44 percent of their local levy funding through a cap going into effect next year.

Battle Ground teachers are planning an afternoon rally on Main Street, before attending the district’s 6pm school board meeting tonight.

Evergreen reaches a deal

26,000 Evergreen school district students returned to class today after over 1,000 of the district’s 1,800 teachers voted 99.5 percent in favor of a new two-year collective bargaining agreement. It will boost teacher pay an average of 11.5 percent for this school year. In the first year of the deal teachers will earn between $51,619 and $98,279. Next year that increases to $53,474 to $100,618.

The district says it will release an updated school calendar this week outlining how they will make up for the seven days missed due to the strike.

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About The Author

Chris Brown

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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