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Final teachers' strike issues resolved

Agreement between union, Oregon Trail School District to be ratified next month

The Oregon Trail School District and the Wy'East Education Association teachers' union have reached a tentative agreement on the two outstanding labor issues that remained after the end of last year's teachers' strike, which closed schools for nearly a month in late October/early November.

District officials and teachers' union representatives held several meetings over recent months in an effort to reach a compromise between the two entities. The issues were scheduled for arbitration on Oct. 4, but the parties reached an agreement on their own in a meeting Thursday, Sept. 21.

The outstanding issues included transfers and vacancies and teacher evaluations.

Superintendent Clementina Salinas said, 'We were very productive as a small local delegation. We had candid discussions, and a common mission to reach consensus and move forward in a positive manner. I am thrilled with the outcome, and excited to work side-by-side with our newly elected Wy'East teacher representatives.'

Wy'East President Sena Norton said, 'Solving the outstanding issues of the contact 'in-house' was the best way to truly bring the contract to its final settlement. Outside arbitrators, although able to do their job well, are not stakeholders in the school district and might not choose what is best for all those involved. I am proud to have worked with a team that was able to talk across a table and come to a solution.'

A brief synopsis of the agreements:

Article 10: Transfers and Vacancies

- District-initiated transfers shall be based on seniority and licensure. However, when transfers become necessary, the District will first consider teachers who are interested in voluntarily transferring, if they hold the appropriate license.

- The clause that restricted the number of times a teacher could be involuntarily transferred has been removed.

Article 11: Evaluation

- A committee that will include equal representation of District and Union members will develop an Evaluation Handbook, and will reach consensus on a final recommendation - The Board will have final approval in regard to adopting the Evaluation Handbook, but may not edit the Handbook without first sending it back to the committee with suggestions.

The agreement was ratified by union members at a special meeting held on Sept. 21. The District Board of Directors will ratify at their Oct. 9 meeting.