Washougal school employees, district reach agreement

Two-year contract gives para-educators, janitors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, other classified staff a 5-percent salary bump

After working more than three months without a contract, classified employees in the Washougal School District have ratified a two-year contract.

The 2017-2019 contract, approved by the district this week and ratified by the Washougal chapter of the Public School Employees association on Nov. 27, gives a 5-percent salary increase to the school district’s non-educator employees, which include bus drivers, cafeteria workers, para-educators, library assistants, bus mechanics, custodians, speech and language assistants, groundskeepers, secretaries and many other support positions.

In October, Brenda Brock, Washougal’s chapter president of the Public School Employees of Washington, SEIU 1948, said the union and school district had hit a stumbling block and were headed into mediation.

“We’ve met 12 times and can’t come to an agreement,” Brock said in mid-October.

The two groups met in mediation for the first time on Nov. 8.

The classified employees had been working without a contract since Sept. 1, after their former two-year contract expired on Aug. 31.

The new contract gives a 2.7-percent across-the-board salary increase and 2.3-percent cost of living adjustment, for a total increase of 5 percent.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the district said the new agreement also gives “specific job-title pay increases for para-professionals, warehouse person, dispatchers and early learning staff over a two-year period.”

Washougal School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Stromme said the district appreciates the support the classified employees give to students, staff and Washougal families throughout the school year.

“Their commitment to educating all Washougal children and supporting teachers and families is evident as they are often the first to greet students in the morning, support teaching and student learning throughout the school day and are often the last to see students as they head home.”