Evergreen reaches tentative deal with teachers

Negotiators pose for a celebratory photo early Sunday morning after reaching a tentative contract agreement in Evergreen Public Schools. If the deal is ratified Sunday night by the Evergreen Education Association, classes in the district will begin Monday. (Evergreen Education Association)

The teachers strike in Evergreen Public Schools could be over after a tentative agreement was reached at 2:57 a.m. today.

Classes are likely to start Monday, assuming the teachers union members ratify the pact. The Evergreen Education Association has scheduled a general membership meeting and vote at 3 p.m. today at the Evergreen High School gymnasium.

Striking teachers in Longview also settled overnight, potentially leaving only Battle Ground teachers on the picket lines in Southwest Washington.

News of the Evergreen and Longview deals was announced by Rich Wood, of the statewide Washington Education Association labor group.

No details of the tentative agreement were immediately available. As the bargaining moved into the weekend, the district was offering minimum pay of $51,288, topping out at $98,279 for a 16-year veteran teacher with a master’s degree and 90 continuing education credits, and an average pay of $80,867. The union had rejected that offer as too low compared with other districts, the nature and scope of a teacher’s job, and the money available from the state for salaries.

Teachers have been on strike in Evergreen for nearly two weeks. With about 27,000 students, Evergreen is one of Washington’s largest public school districts and the largest in Clark County. It serves a large suburban area including the east part of Vancouver.

Negotiations between teachers and school districts have been unusually difficult this year, after the Legislature greatly increased school spending to comply with a state Supreme Court decision, but did not give accompanying formulas mandating how the money was to be spent. The Supreme Court decision, known as the McCleary decision, ordered the state government to fully fund education and to not force school districts to rely on local voter-approved levies to support basic education programs.

This story will be updated.