Thursday negotiations between Ridgefield School District and Ridgefield Education Association officials failed to result in an agreement
Teachers in the Ridgefield School District (RSD) fulfilled their threat to strike Friday. Negotiators for the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) and the district were unable to reach an agreement at a Thursday bargaining session and the teachers formally went on strike.
“We were unable to come to an agreement with the district this evening and REA members will begin striking Friday morning until a tentative agreement is reached,’’ read a statement posted Thursday on the REA Facebook page. “While progress has been made toward an agreement, the RSD team has refused to use its available resources to provide necessary improvements for special education students, more counselors for mental health supports, and a better program for student interventions.
“None of us want to be on strike, but ignoring our dysfunctional intervention program, unsafe staffing levels and the need for more counselors when the district has the money to do something about it is unacceptable,” REA Co-President Elizabeth Stamp said. “We are united with the Ridgefield community demanding what our students deserve and we’re calling on the district to do the right thing.”
The teachers voted Aug. 29 to authorize the strike. Their contract with the district expired Aug. 31.
Prior to Thursday’s negotiating session, the district reported its latest offer included a minimum 8.5 percent wage increase in overall compensation to all employees for the current 2022-23 school year; a minimum 4.5 percent wage increase for the next school year (2023-24); and a minimum 3 percent wage increase for the following school year (2024-25). Additionally, eligible employees would receive an annual 2.5 percent step increase until reaching the top of the salary scale.
Additionally, the district has a 20-year salary scale with each year of service equating to one step. Each step is valued at 2.5 percent more than the previous step. For school year 2023-2024, the district was willing to adjust to a 19-year scale by removing the first step, resulting in all employees on the salary scale moving up by one step, for an additional 2.5 percent increase (unless already maximized on the salary scale).
Similarly, for school year 2024-2025, the district would adjust to an 18-year scale by again removing the first step, resulting in all employees on the salary scale moving up by one step, for an additional 2.5 percent increase (unless already maximized on the salary scale).
The district’s proposal represents an approximate 3-year compensation package of at least 16 percent with eligible employees seeing up to 28.5 percent increases. Funding for these proposals includes additional state revenue of 5.5 percent (the value of the State of Washington’s Implicit Price Deflator Index, or IPD) this year and projected increases of 2.0 percent and 2.1 percent in the following years.
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