Educator unions & local districts continue negotiations

(STORY IMAGE:KHQ.COM)

SPOKANE, Wash. -Districts across Washington state are trying to come to an agreement with their unions over key issues like salaries and class sizes. That hasn't happened here yet and today educators with the Mead School District gathered outside a school board meeting where their salaries were on the agenda.

Two western Washington unions have already voted to strike if an agreement isn't reached by next Wednesday.

"We've been working since March to come up with a solution to this new salary schedule and all that that entails," Toby Doolittle said.

Doolittle is the President of the Mead Education Association, and he's been working hard to get educators the compensation they say legislators promised for them.

"It's not been an easy process, but we've really appreciated the district in their effort in working collaborative with us," Doolittle said.

More than three-hundred educators rallied together outside of the Mead district board meeting. The Mead bargaining team was inside making their case.

Doolittle said they are hoping to reach a final agreement in the next couple of days, but salary wasn't the only sticking point. Educators tell me they also want to focus on mental health education, and reducing class sizes and case loads for special education students. Doolittle also told me that it's hard to talk about hypotheticals of a strike if the verdict doesn't go their way, and for now, parents should expect school to start on time.

But Mead is far from the only district where educators and the school board have not yet come to an agreement. Negotiations at schools across Washington reopened in May following an increase in state basic education funding. An increase, unions say, that educators should see. Districts, not necessarily Mead, have said they are working on an agreement that is sustainable long-term, and some of the union demands right now, are not.

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