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As first day of school approaches, no progress on negotiations

A supporter of the Evergreen Education Association holds a protest sign while attending Evergreen Public School Board meeting on Tuesday evening, Aug. 14, 2018. (Nathan Howard / Columbian)
A supporter of the Evergreen Education Association holds a protest sign while attending Evergreen Public School Board meeting on Tuesday evening, Aug. 14, 2018. (Nathan Howard / Columbian)

Another weekend of bargaining is done, and Southwest Washington’s school districts are no closer to settling contract negotiations with their teachers unions.

Districts and unions in Clark County and across the state are negotiating new pay scales due to new school funding legislation. After allocating $7.3 billion to the state school system last year, the Legislature this year added nearly another $1 billion for teacher salaries.

Widespread demonstrations are expected in Clark County, potentially delaying school for 80,000 students. In the last hours of negotiations before strikes are set to start, area school districts are coordinating teachers and issuing final strike announcements.

The Vancouver Education Association at 10:40 p.m. Sunday alerted Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb that the union would be on strike effective Wednesday if a deal is not reached.

Members of the Vancouver Education Association will rally from 12:30 to 2 p.m. today at the intersection of Falk Road and Plomondon Street, near district offices.

The Evergreen Education Association is warning its teachers to remove personal items and planning materials from their classrooms, saying Evergreen Superintendent John Steach has directed campuses “to lock out all teachers from buildings” beginning Tuesday.

District spokeswoman Gail Spolar said all school campuses will be closed to everyone in the event of a strike.

“We’re not staffing them,” Spolar said. “We’re securing the buildings, locking them.”

And Mark Gardner, Camas Education Association lead negotiator and past president, wrote on Facebook that the union and Camas School District bargaining team only met for 10 minutes Sunday before the district “requested mediation and left the table.”

“I truly believed that I’d be posting tonight that we would proudly be the one school district in SW WA able to avoid a strike vote,” Gardner wrote.

Camas’ teachers union is the last in Clark County to consider a strike vote. Members will meet at 4 p.m. tonight.

The Columbian will be following demonstrations and contract negotiations update today. Check back for updates to this story and news regarding planned teacher strikes.


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