Port Angeles School District and Education Association Resume Talks Monday

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School District and the Port Angeles Education Association took Sunday off after a 12-hour bargaining session on Saturday with plans to resume talks at 9 a.m. today.

The aim is to reach an agreement in principle on a new contract to avoid a threat of a strike by the union which would start on Tuesday.

On Friday, a Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) mediator began working with the district and the Port Angeles Education Association (PAEA) to help them find a solution. The district and union continue to meet at the Lincoln Center administration building, but are now working in separate rooms and by videoconference with the PERC mediator.

The district had filed a request for mediation with PERC on Thursday after the two sides could not agree on the terms of a collective agreement.

According to the district’s website, the two sides have met 20 times (not counting Saturday) since March without resolving their dispute.

On Sunday morning, the school district posted the three proposals from Saturday’s bargaining session on its website.

“We believe the community should be aware of both sides of these proposals,” said district communications spokeswoman Carmen Geyer.

PAEA President John Henry said he and Superintendent Marty Brewer had a verbal agreement that they would not release the proposals, but Brewer called him Saturday night to let him know the information would be released on the following day.

The district presented its Saturday proposals on wages, class sizes and other issues, as well as the union’s proposals, all of which could change as negotiations continue.

Henry said just reading the proposals wouldn’t necessarily provide someone with a full understanding of what an ongoing process is.

“There are things that are agreed, there are things that are not agreed, and that’s why when you post the proposals, it’s hard to interpret because you don’t have the context of the conversation. at the table,” Henry said.

Like most school districts in Washington, Port Angeles negotiates its collective agreements with teachers behind closed doors. To create a more transparent process, the Pullman School Board voted in 2017 that its contract negotiations would be open to the public, so “all staff and our community can see that we are striving for a positive and collaborative negotiation process.” “.

The district also posted on its website the current average class size based on its database of class and attendance records, which are below the CBA caps that expired Aug. 31. Reducing class sizes is among the issues the union has pressed the district on.

“Averages can be very tricky,” Henry said. “In high school, I think they posted 18 (students), and I would say that’s a misrepresentation of a normal high school class size.”

The Port Angeles School District, like many others in the state, negotiated with unions like the PAEA (and the Port Angeles Paraeducator Association) a 5.5% increase in the cost of living that the state legislature reserved for K-12 educators.

Each district’s allocation is based on a statewide average of teacher salaries — a calculation that puts PASD at a disadvantage, which has more experienced and senior teachers who earn higher salaries than the state average. .

According to PAED, to meet a 5.5% overall salary increase, he must find the difference between what the state has allocated to him ($622,343) and what it will actually cost him to provide the increase ($1,163,035): $540,962.

Henry said other districts face the same challenge of how to fund a 5.5% wage increase, but declined to elaborate on how it could close a half-million-dollar gap.

“All of these other districts are finding the same solutions to this same problem, and I think we can find solutions as well,” Henry said.

If the two sides fail to reach a tentative agreement ratified by its members today, the PAEA has announced that it will go on strike on Tuesday.

The district said it will notify families by 5 p.m. today whether or not schools will be open on Tuesday.

To see the full update, go to https://tinyurl.com/2s3e664s.


Journalist Paula Hunt can be reached at [email protected]

Andrew B. Reiter