Education

Tentative deal reached in Central Valley School District teachers’ contract negotiations

North Pines Middle School is seen before the 2018-2019 school year on Aug. 23, 2018. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

After weeks of slow progress in salary negotiations, the Central Valley School District and its teachers union sprinted to the finish line Monday night to reach a tentative agreement on a one-year contract.

Working without a mediator, the district and the Central Valley Education Association put in an eight-hour session on Labor Day before reaching a deal two days before the start of the school year.

“I think my members will be pleasantly satisfied,” said union president Wally Watson, who has scheduled a ratification vote Friday afternoon at University High School.

Details of the deal will be revealed Friday to the Central Valley Education Association’s 1,020 teachers.

However, both sides appeared confident that the deal will be ratified.

“We worked hard to come together on this agreement in time for the start of school and remain committed to providing high-quality learning and teaching,” superintendent Ben Small said in a statement.

Watson said his five-member negotiating team “reached a fair, competitive and sustainable schedule for our members.”

“We are excited to welcome back our students for the new school year,” Watson said.

The sides appeared far apart going into the holiday weekend, exchanging pointed messages on social media. Small noted that CVSD receives less in state funding than the Mead and Spokane districts, which last week finalized teacher salary hikes of 16 and 13 percent, respectively.

“I applaud those districts for stepping up and giving those teachers a competitive and professional wage for the next year,” Watson said last week.

On the other hand, East Valley and West Valley teachers settled for single-digit-percentage raises.

The rest of the county is seeing uneven progress.

Teachers in the Freeman School District recently ratified a contract that raises salaries across the board by 11.6 percent.

In Nine Mile Falls, superintendent Brian Talbott said, “We made good progress, so we’re getting close” to a tentative agreement.

In Medical Lake, teachers and the district reached a tentative agreement last month, which teachers ratified Tuesday night.

Negotiations between Cheney teachers and the district are moving toward mediation, superintendent Robert Roettger said.

In the Riverside School District, teachers have ratified a contract that calls for raises averaging 9 percent. The deal is awaiting school board approval, which is expected Tuesday.

Negotiations are ongoing in Deer Park, officials said.

The negotiations are a product of an influx of state dollars for public education following the McCleary court decision.

The state allocated $2 billion statewide, but did not give guidelines on how that money should be allocated.