Striking Battle Ground teachers wave picket signs outside Battle Ground High School. The teachers have been on strike since Aug. 29.

Striking Battle Ground teachers wave picket signs outside Battle Ground High School. The teachers have been on strike since Aug. 29.

Molly Solomon/OPB

The battle over teacher salaries in southwest Washington appears to finally be over.

Striking Battle Ground teachers and the school district reached a tentative agreement Saturday evening.

“We are pleased to reach a tentative agreement that will allow the district to recruit and retain quality teachers,” Superintendent Mark Ross wrote in a letter to families after the deal was announced. “We are excited to see all the smiling faces back in our classrooms.”

“It was a hard fight, but right now, I’m a happy, happy person,” said Linda Peterson, president of the Battle Ground Education Association.

Peterson said members of the union will vote Sunday at 10 a.m. at Battle Ground High School, the same location where they voted to take a strike. 

“We vowed to both our members and to each other on the (bargaining) team that we were not gonna walk away unless we had every penny,” said Peterson. “And we got every McCleary penny for our educators.”

Peterson would not reveal any details of the contract before it is approved by union members.

“I will say, it’s a competitive salary,” she added.

Pending a vote of approval from the union, Battle Ground Public Schools is expected to open on Monday. The first day of classes has been delayed since Aug. 29 because of ongoing negotiations over teacher salaries. 

This summer, nearly every district in Washington opened up salary negotiations after $1 billion earmarked for teacher salaries was sent down from the legislature. The funding was part of the McCleary decision, a landmark state Supreme Court decision that found the state of Washington was failing to fully fund basic education.

Disputes over how that money should be spent and how much salaries should increase prompted several teacher unions to go on strike, many in southwest Washington. Battle Ground was one of the last two districts in the state with teachers on strike. Tumwater school teachers still remain without a contract.

Saturday’s tentative agreement means a Clark County Superior Court ruling ordering teachers back to class will no longer go into effect. It also means a fact-finding hearing planned for Monday is cancelled, pending approval of the contract by the union.