Principals finalize contract with school district

Negotiations bring some changes

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Camas principals have agreed on a three-year contract with the School District.

The School Board approved the contract at its meeting last week.

Items that are new or changed include an option to negotiate wages during the third year of the contract, and clarification on paid leaves and out-of-state travel. Health benefits will remain the same, but will include an option to discuss potential changes in the third year.

The third-year clause was put in due to current economic conditions.

“This allows for changes depending on how the economy fares during the next two years,” Human Resources Director Rita Pakenen said. “We could hold it, or increase it again.”

As part of the contract negotiations, the district did a salary study of several school districts in the Clark County area, based both on size and geographical location. These included Vancouver, Kelso, Evergreen, Longview, Washougal and Battle Ground.

Camas was third on the list for principal salary. The average salary for a high school principal is $104,401, $95,633 for a high school associate principal, $101,145 for a middle school principal, $91,096 for a middle school associate principal, and $97,163 for an elementary school principal.

The principals agreed to stop all out-of-state travel to conferences due to current economic conditions. In exchange, they will be allowed to go to local conferences in Oregon or Washington every other year.

The contract will be retroactive to the start of the 2010-11 school year. The old contract expired Aug. 31, 2010.

“We didn’t agree to one earlier because the principals were very busy and didn’t want to negotiate during school hours when they felt it was important to be in (the school),” Pakenen said. “There was no animosity in the negotiations at all, just a lack of time to meet.”

Camas High School Principal Steve Marshall, who served on the negotiation team, agreed.

“There was no holdout or impasse,” he said. “The principals and the district were so focused on addressing difficult building and district budget issues, as well as the teachers’ contract last spring that the principals’ contract was, essentially, deferred to the start of this year.”

Others who served on the negotiation team included Hayes Freedom High School Principal Amy Holmes, Liberty Middle School Principal Marilyn Boerke and Dorothy Fox Elementary School Principal Cathy Sork.

“This was the first time I served on a negotiating team and I felt it was a positive experience overall,” Marshall said. “As with any negotiation, there were points of disagreement. But it was never acrimonious. Again, there was a lot of dialogue and research, not much debate.”

He added that it was a great learning opportunity.

“I think everyone on the principals’ negotiating team felt that they learned a lot,” he said. “I also think we realized that, although job expectations, salaries and benefits need to be clarified and revisited periodically, we would much rather spend our time working with staff and students.”