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La Center School District reaches tentative agreement

The La Center School District and La Center Education Association have reached a tentative new contract for teachers, meaning the school year should start on time.

The district posted an update on its website Sunday, noting that athletics will occur as planned. Details of the agreement will be released following a ratification vote and board approval, both scheduled for Tuesday. The first day of classes in La Center is Wednesday.

“We’re thankful to have reached a tentative resolution,” Superintendent Dave Holmes said in a press release. “We’re now committed to refocusing and reunifying around our shared passion: student learning.”

No one with the union or district could be reached for further comment Sunday afternoon.

Earlier this month, the teachers union voted 75-1 to strike if a new deal wasn’t reached by the first day of school. The two sides started meeting with a mediator Friday, and said they cleared their schedules for the weekend so they could hammer out a deal.

Bargaining started in early June; both sides were working on salary and length of time in the new contract.

Denelle Eiesland, president of the teachers union, said earlier this week the district was pushing for a three-year deal, but the union wanted a two-year contract. Part of the reason is because state legislative sessions run two years, and the union wants to line up with those sessions. That way, if changes are made to education funding, they can be incorporated faster.

According to information on the district’s website, the proposal from the district as of Aug. 21 was a total compensation package that ranged from $48,403 for the least experienced teachers to $92,515 for the most experienced. The union’s proposal as of Aug. 21 had a salary range from $50,179 for the least experienced teachers to $94,579 for the most experienced in the first year of the contract, and a salary range of $51,684 to $97,416 in the second year of the deal.

The issue of teacher experience has been heavily discussed in the district since the summer of 2018, when most other teachers unions in Clark County went on strike after the McCleary decision led to an influx of $7.3 billion in new state funding for schools to be spread over four years, followed by another $1 billion for teacher salaries.

Peter Rosenkranz, assistant superintendent, said earlier in the week that La Center was allocated $69,129 per teacher from the state, which is less than what most experienced teachers make. He said La Center has longer-tenured staff than most districts; over half of La Center’s teachers earn more than that average. Because of that, the school district had to pull money from elsewhere to make up the difference.


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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