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Reynolds teachers set vote on contract

by: Jim Clark, Fairview Elementary School first-grade teacher Katie Schram checks the work of her students on Tuesday morning, May 29. Reynolds School District teachers went back to work on Tuesday morning after a five-day strike.

Unionized teachers in the Reynolds School District are set to vote on a proposed contract Wednesday, May 30, following a weeklong strike that ended last Saturday.

The teachers will meet at 4 p.m. at Reynolds High School, 1698 S.W. Cherry Park Road, Troutdale, according to Joyce Rosenau, president of the 560-member Reynolds Education Association.

Meanwhile, the district board is set to vote on the contract after its 6 p.m. executive session the same day at Troutdale Elementary School, 648 S.E. Harlow Ave., Troutdale, the district said.

The executive session is closed to the public, but the vote will take place in a public session afterward. Public comment will be allowed for 21 minutes, starting at 6:45 p.m., with a possible vote on the contract set for 7:05 p.m.

Details of the new contract will not be available until the teachers as well as the district school board approve it.

Back to school

Classes resumed in the district Tuesday, May 29, after being canceled May 21-25 during the strike. The district will not be making up its lost days, according to Andrea Watson, Reynolds spokeswoman. She added that graduating high school seniors either have met their requirements for the year or will complete them by other means.

Reynolds teachers and the district began negotiations more than a year ago. The previous contract expired last July, but teachers have been working under its terms this school year.

The final mediation session between the union and the district started at noon May 25 and concluded just after 6 a.m. Saturday, May 26. Rosenau said the logjam broke because the session gave each side 'the chance to dialogue and find out concerns from each side.'

Bruce McCain, a school board member, said the end of the strike relieved all parties.

'I think we're relieved for the graduating seniors, who we were concerned would not have an enjoyable end to their high school career,' he added.

Board recall

The strike may be over, but its effects are apparently lingering, as evidenced by the creation of 'Reynolds Recall,' a group with a Facebook page seeking to recall board members it blames for causing the strike.

About 40 people reportedly attended an organizational meeting May 24, and the Facebook page states the group is not giving up its purpose despite the settlement.

'While the teacher's strike is now over, that does not mean that the need to reclaim the Reynolds School Board for the people is over,' a post on the page reads. 'The board's provocation of the strike is just a symptom of a much larger problem on the Reynolds School Board. People: We can reclaim our board. We can do better. We owe this to our children and to our community.'

McCain said recalls are time-consuming and expensive, and he believes voters who are discontent with the board will be able to vote out some of the members they don't like in May 2013, when the next school board election is held.

'Threats of recall are part and parcel of union strikes,' McCain said. 'But if it continues on after settlement, it's just picking at scabs and is just going to continue to disrupt the district.'