Ridgefield teachers continue to strike

File photo

Ridgefield Education Association members take a vote of no confidence against Ridgefield Superintendent Nathan McCann and other district administrators

After its leadership team completed its 20th negotiating session with Ridgefield School District (RSD) officials Wednesday, members of the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) overwhelmingly took a vote of no confidence against Ridgefield School District Superintendent Nathan McCann, Assistant Superintendent Chris Griffith and Executive Director of Student Services Michael Baskette.

“Our decision was influenced by numerous persistent problems that have taken place under Superintendent McCann’s leadership,’’ read a post late Wednesday afternoon on the Ridgefield Education Association Facebook page. “We believe that these problems directly stem from McCann’s inability (or unwillingness) to provide effective, competent, and compassionate leadership to the Ridgefield School District, educators and students and to our community.’’

Members of the Ridgefield Education Association overwhelmingly took a vote of no confidence Wednesday against Ridgefield School District Superintendent Nathan McCann (pictured here), Assistant Superintendent Chris Griffith and Executive Director of Student Services Michael Baskette. File photo

The REA statement listed the following reasons why its members have no confidence in the district’s leadership: 

• Refusing to use the district’s ample surplus funds to meet student and staff needs;

• Months of silence instead of engaging in productive bargaining during the spring and summer;

• Choosing conflict with educators rather than dialogue that would promptly get students back to school;

• The district’s failure to address the dysfunctional student intervention program which is not working for students or educators. Interventions should be driven by identified student need. The district continues to resist efforts to ensure better outcomes for students. We need to utilize teacher’s professional judgment to provide supports, interventions and enrichment; and

• Lack of adequate facilities due to a series of failed bond elections.

“We request the Ridgefield School Board take necessary actions to rebuild the broken trust between the district, our community and our members,’’ the statement continued. “We need leadership to move this district forward and work with, and not against, its educators and the community we serve.’’

District response

The district provided its own update Wednesday of the negotiations with its teachers.

“The Ridgefield School District has been actively engaged in bargaining with the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) since June 2022,’’ the news release stated. “The district first requested to initiate bargaining in February 2022, but waited until REA leadership was available to come to the bargaining table. To date, the district and REA have participated in 20 negotiation sessions.

“To help support the process of reaching a tentative agreement with REA, the parties agreed to request mediation from the Public Employees Relation Commission (PERC). The RSD and REA began negotiations with the mediator on Saturday, September 9. The district continues to approach each bargaining session in good faith and remains hopeful for resolution through established bargaining practices, under the direction of the PERC mediator.’’

Since Aug. 29, the district has posted its complete package proposals and summaries, as well as a strike FAQ on its website at www.ridgefieldsd.org/page/bargaining-update

“The district has offered a fair and sustainable financial package that includes the full Implicit Price Deflator Index, or IPD (also known as COLA) in accordance with Washington State law,’’ stated the district response.

The following details were provided by the district Wednesday.

The district’s financial offer includes the following enhancements:

  • Increased certificated staff base salaries by 6.5% in 2022-2023
  • Increased salary by at least 4.5% or IPD (whichever is higher) in 2023-2024
  • Increased salary by at least 3.0% or IPD (whichever is higher) 2024-2025
  • Increased TRI (Time, Responsibility, and Incentive) pay 2%
  • Compressed the salary schedule by 2 steps (teachers will max out on the salary scale two years sooner)
  • Salary schedule compressed laterally by 2 columns creating higher starting salary for beginning teachers
  • Increased extra-curricular stipends by 6.5%, 4.5%, and 3% over next 3 years
  • Increased extra-curricular assistants pay to 75%
  • Enhanced stipend for various positions (robotics, etc.)
  • Overload pay increased to $7, doubling to $14 at the 3rd student

For illustration purposes, see the table below which shows approximate salary increases (including TRI) for three different employee types, entry level, 10 years of service, and 20 years of service

School YearBA 0(0 years of service)BA 90(10 years of service)MA 90(20 years of service)
2021-2022$51,789 (0 years of service)$73,893 (10 years of service)$102,610 (20 years of service)
2022-2023$60,809 (1 year of service)$82,181 (11 years of service)$111,335 (21 years of service)
2023-2024$66,763 (2 years of service)$90,227 (12 years of service)$116,345 (22 years of service)
2024-2025$72,247 (3 years of service)$97,638 (13 years of service)$119,836 (23 years of service)

“The district has a long history of fiscal responsibility, meeting the needs of both students and staff while planning for anticipated district needs and considering legislative and fiscal changes,’’ read Wednesday’s statement. “The district utilizes transparent budget processes which are reflected in public presentations and demonstrated by the receipt of the State Auditor’s Financial Stewardship Award, a recognition granted to schools for meeting high standards for budget planning and public communication.’’

In addition to the financial enhancements being offered to help attract and retain highly-qualified and skilled educators, the district stated that it has also proposed many solutions to improve working conditions for our staff.

Proposed improvements to working conditions include:

  • Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, teachers would not be assigned to AM/PM supervision duties providing for more classroom planning and preparation time to enhance student achievement
  • Providing de-escalation training to promote a safer school environment
  • Lowered Special Education caseload for every Special Education professional
  • Increased compensation for every Special Education professional
  • Increased Special Education program staffing
  • Increased Special Education staffing hours

“The district will continue to bargain in good faith with the REA and collaborate as negotiations continue with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable contract agreement,’’ read the statement. “We look forward to continuing the school year once the teacher strike has concluded.’’

Information in this report was provided by Ridgefield School District.

Also read:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *