Washougal School District, teachers’ union continues to bargain

Contract negotiations between the Washougal Association of Educators (WAE) teachers’ union and the Washougal School District continued this week with a 3.5-hour negotiation meeting on Sept. 19.

The school district stated in its bargaining update that the “two groups continue to make progress towards an agreement, and will meet again on Thursday, Sept. 29, to continue the bargaining process.”

Washougal teachers have been working since Aug. 30, under the terms of their former contract, which expired at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

WAE President James Bennett recently told The Post-Record that union leaders’ focus is “on reaching a deal that includes fair pay for educators to ensure everyone with the critical job of teaching and caring for Washougal students earns enough to support themselves and their own families .”

The teachers’ union has asked the district to provide a 5.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is in line with other districts in Clark County. The district initially offered a 4% COLA, but has since included a 5.5% COLA for the 2022-23 school year, with another increase of at least 2.25% in 2023-24.

The district said this week it also is now offering an additional professional development day and a personal wellness day.

“Under this offer, teachers at the top-end of the pay scale will make $111,575 in total compensation, and would still be among the highest paid teachers in the region,” the district stated on its bargaining update website on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The offer now on the table would make Washougal’s top-step teachers the third-highest compensated teachers in Southwest Washington, after Camas School District, where teachers with the most education and longevity earn $114,456, and Evergreen School District, where top-step teachers earn $112,301 in total compensation.

Under the Washougal School District’s most recent offer, Washougal teachers on the first step of the salary schedule — those with no experience and a just a bachelor’s degree — as well as those in the middle of the salary scale who have five years’ of experience and more than a bachelor’s degree, also would have the third highest compensation rates in the region ($59,196 and $65,842, respectively) during the 2022-23 school year, after Evergreen ($61,056 and 68,541) and Camas ($60,451 and $67,027), according to a comparison chart provided by the district.

The two sides still have a few sticking points, according to the district’s most recent bargaining update, including: “compensation increases, language around student discipline, language around professional learning community time, language around overload and the opportunity to offer advisory classes, and investments in paid professional development.”

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