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.
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.