Students and staff are headed back to the classrooms for the first time this school year in Washington’s Evergreen Public Schools. Members of the Evergreen Education Association voted Monday morning to approve a new collective bargaining agreement with the district.
Classes will begin on a two-hour delay schedule.
Evergreen teachers and school administrators announced a tentative contract agreement Sunday evening, following bargaining sessions over the weekend. “No picket lines will be in front of schools Monday,” read the announcement from the association.
The 22,000-student Evergreen district was initially scheduled to start the school year on Aug. 30, but a teachers strike kept school from starting for seven days. In a statement, Evergreen Superintendent John Boyd acknowledged the strike was “inconvenient and stressful for families” and that school officials are “excited for the new school year to begin.”
Negotiations concerned four main focus areas of the Evergreen teachers: compensation, support for students with special needs, adequate staffing and sufficient planning time for teachers.
According to the union’s announcement Monday, the ratified contract includes an agreement to hire up to 10 certificated special education student support teachers this school year and up to 12 in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years. It also allows collaboration time for K-8 special education and general education teachers to support students not yet meeting learning goals.
It creates cost-of-living increases of 6.6% in the first year and 5.8% in the second year. And in the third year, increases would be based on the Seattle consumer price index between 4.65 and 5.05%.
The 7,000 students in the nearby Camas School District returned to school Friday, after also starting their year delayed due to a teachers strike. At the end of last week, Portland school officials sent a message to parents in Oregon’s largest school district warning that a teachers strike was possible there, potentially as soon as late October.