WAE, School Board ratify contract

Agreement reached after mediation sessions

The Washougal Association of Educators and the School District have ratified a new, two-year contract for district teachers.

An agreement was reached in late December, but approval was needed from both the WAE membership and the School Board.

According to a press release from the district, the agreement addresses a number of district and association concerns, while updating antiquated contract language.

The WAE and district met in three mediation sessions, the most recent on Dec. 28, after negotiations came to a standstill over evaluation, curriculum and compensation issues. The previous contract expired Aug. 31, 2015.

The new agreement provides a 5.4 percent pay increase over two years, coupled with the state-funded 4.8 percent cost of living adjustment over the next two years, for a total increase of 10.2 percent.

According to Frank Zahn, WAE president, the contract is still not competitive in salaries and benefits with neighboring school districts.

“If you’re looking for who did get a raise, look to the legislative and administrative salaries,” he said. “You will find the raises there. We have simply fallen behind (neighboring districts) less quickly in this contract.”

According to the district, the contract provides additional paid time for teacher training, recognizes increases in workload, and fully implements the new state teacher evaluation system.

“The added professional development time is a wise investment in our staff,” said Mike Stromme, superintendent. “It will provide an opportunity to focus on implementing our new instructional framework, new curriculum adoption and implementation, and high quality teaching that leads to greater student learning.”