Camas teachers’ strike extends into 2nd week

Union pushing for higher cost-of-living bump, class size caps

The Camas teachers’ strike entered its second week Tuesday, Sept. 5, following an already scheduled school break for the Labor Day holiday.

Camas schools remained closed Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 5-6, as members of the Camas Education Association (CEA), the union representing around 450 Camas public school educators, remained on the picket lines, calling for a higher cost-of-living increase to keep up with local inflation rates; a cap on class sizes; and dedicated resources for music, physical health, library and health programs in all of Camas’ K-12 schools.

Camas School District students were slated to return for the 2023-24 school year Monday, Aug. 28.

The district said this week that it had proposed a two-year contract to the teachers’ union on Aug. 27, which included a cost-of-living increase of 5.7% for the 2023-24 school year and another 5.9% increase during the 2024-25 school year, plus a 2% increase on teachers’ base salaries in both years of the contract. If approved, the increase would give Camas teachers a salary schedule of $63,287 to $118,363 depending on experience and education levels in the first year and of $66,818 to $124,991 for the second year.

The district also explained that these salaries are for the contract year, which includes 7.5-hour days for 185.5 days per school year. The district has an additional contract for extra time, responsibilities and incentives (TRI) that pays teachers 3.3% of their base salary for extra time spent on activities outside the regular school day, including parent conferences, curriculum development, assessment and grading responsibilities, special education paperwork and online training.

The district added that it also “proposed reducing class sizes across nearly every grade level from kindergarten to high school.”

Under the district’s proposal delivered to the CEA Aug. 27, class sizes would be lowered from 24 to 22 in kindergarten; to 24 (in 2023-24) and then to 23 (in 2024-25) for first- and second–grade classes; to 29 for middle school grades; and to 30 for high school grades. The district has also said it is willing to lower health classes (for grades 6-12) to 21 and fitness classes (also for grades 6-12) to 33 and increase its “outlier” pay for extra-large classes.

The district said this week that the negotiation teams “have agreed to make significant changes to the contract,” including:

  • “For special education: Lowered caseloads, increased time for collaboration, planning time before the start of the school year for district program staff, and additional funding above base salary for all professional staff;
  • Giving teachers greater autonomy over restorative conferences and student discipline;
  • Raising substitute pay;
  • Clarifying teacher obligations for before and after school supervision of students;
  • Providing greater consistency for teachers around workday start and end times;
  • 80 minutes of designated planning for elementary teachers on 24 of the 36 early–release Wednesdays; and
  • Secondary planning periods that occur within the student day for secondary teachers.

The teachers’ union has said it is holding out for salary increases that are “fair, sustainable and consistent with previous agreements.”

The increase proposed by the union, CEA leaders posted on the union website, “would keep educators in line with inflation and allow (Camas educators) to remain in the median income level in Camas.”

The union also said the district has “shown zero commitment to providing the materials, supplies and curriculum” the Camas community “expects” for programs such as music, physical education and library programs. The union added on a “fact sheet” posted to its website,, that the district’s offer for funding these programs “included a contingency that the (Camas School Board) could withdraw funds at any time.”

The union said it believes the district has enough money to meet the CEA’s salary proposals.

“The district has never demonstrated how our ‘demands would exhaust all state and local revenue,’” the CEA stated in its fact sheet. “In fact, we have been following CSD’s budget over the last five years, and have watched their fund balance balloon an average of $2.2 million per year. That’s money intended for student support, more staff to lower class sizes and physical education, health, music and library resources.”

The union’s Aug. 27 proposal includes increasing the base salary schedule by the Seattle Consumer Price Index (CPI), which was a little over 8% in all three years of the proposed contract, while increasing TRI pay from 3.3% to 4.8% of each individual teacher’s base salary in 2024-25 and to 7.3% in 2025-26.

Some Camas parents — including those who say they support the teachers’ unions proposal — have noted on social media that planning around the strike can be difficult for their families, especially when the district didn’t let families know if their children would be returning to school after the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 4, until after 7 p.m.

“It’s incredibly frustrating for them to conduct this waiting game for the kids,” wrote one family member on Facebook, under a post regarding the ongoing Camas teachers’ contract negotiations. “Make the call early enough for them to get their heads ready for whatever the choice may be.”

On Monday evening, another parent posted to Facebook that they still didn’t know at 5:30 p.m. if there would be school the following day: “Is there school tomorrow?” they asked other Facebook users posting on the CEA’s Facebook post. “I haven’t received anything (from the school district) since 4 p.m.”

Other family members chimed in, saying district leaders had said they would let families know if school was closed Tuesday by 6 p.m. Monday, but that they still hadn’t heard anything by 6:30 p.m.

“The kids don’t get this and they do not get how this is ‘for them,’” commented one Camas parent. “Can we please just get them back to school. At what point is this hurting them more than helping them(?)”

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, Camas School District John Anzalone told families that there is “recurring rhetoric that our district isn’t at the table, and it is patently false.”

“Our bargaining team typically assembles around 8 a.m. and often stays until 7 p.m. or later,” Anzalone stated in his outreach to families. “Monday and today are no different.”

Anzalone added Tuesday that the district and CEA “are still bargaining today and will continue to be fully engaged in this bargaining process.”

The district has continued to serve lunch at Liberty Middle School and Lacamas Lake Elementary School during the teachers’ strike.

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