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Sunday, December 8, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane teacher strike averted; tentative agreement reached

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 3, 2015

After six days of negotiations the Spokane Education Association and Spokane Public Schools came to a tentative contract agreement Thursday afternoon, narrowly avoiding a district-wide strike.

“We are very pleased that we’ve come to an agreement,” said Superintendent Shelley Redinger.

Redinger has seen the tentative one-year contract; however she said details won’t be released until after union members vote on the agreement Tuesday.

Spokane Public Schools board President Jeffrey Bierman said the agreement increases salaries for all union represented groups; however some are increased more than others. He also said the agreement would increase instructional time for students and changes parent-teacher conferences making it easier for working parents to attend conferences.

“I’m really proud of both bargaining teams and how they stuck to it,” he said. “It felt to me that both groups had a lot of the same priorities.”

There will be a union meeting Tuesday at Rogers High School at 6 p.m. The details of the agreement will be presented, discussed, and voted on, said union President Jenny Rose. If the agreement isn’t ratified teachers would start striking Wednesday at 7 a.m.

“From my understanding it’s a very fair and reasonable contract,” Rose said. “I hope our members are happy with it.”

A district news release said the “contract makes progress toward several issues pertinent to building world-class schools including professional development, workload and compensation.”

Redinger said many of the problems originated at the state level. Specifically, she pointed to how long it took the Legislature to approve a budget. Gov. Jay Inslee finalized the state budget that includes school funding on June 30.

“This was the latest we’ve received a budget and it’s made it very difficult,” she said. “We have a lot of moving parts in our district.”

According to Redinger the working relationship between the union and the district wasn’t compromised.

“Fortunately, we’ve had really good relationship with our union,” she said. “Jenny (Rose) and I have a good relationship.”

The main sticking point in negotiations was compensation, especially for instructional assistants and other support staff. Union officials argued that instructional assistants were underpaid and overworked.

Additionally, union leadership was concerned members hadn’t received cost-of-living adjustments in the last six years, Rose said.

Teachers and parents expressed relief at the averted strike. Jan Galves, an instructional assistant with a special education program is relieved, but also wary.

“But we still have to ratify the contract,” she said.

Below is an earlier version of this report.

A tentative agreement has been reached between Spokane Public Schools and the teachers’ union that averts a labor strike Friday.

“From my understanding it’s a very fair and reasonable contract,” said Spokane Education Association president Jenny Rose. “I hope our members are happy with it.”

Rose said she didn’t know details of the agreement. There will be a union meeting on Tuesday at Rogers High School at 8 p.m. At that time the details of the agreement will be discussed, and voted on by union members, Rose said.

District spokesman Kevin Morrison confirmed Thursday afternoon that negotiators had come to an agreement. Morrison said details of the agreement wouldn’t be made public until the union votes on the agreement.

A district news release said the “contract makes progress toward several issues pertinent to building world class schools including professional development, workload and compensation.”

“We’re very proud of the high-quality education our students deserve and receive here in Spokane,” Superintendent Shelley Redinger said. “We’re very pleased we’ve come to an agreement that meets the needs of the District and values our employees.”

If the agreement isn’t ratified teachers would start striking Wednesday at 7 a.m.

The Spokane Education Association says one of the main sticking point was compensation, especially for instructional assistants and other support staff.

This story is developing.

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