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Teachers, school district reach labor contract agreement

The Estacada School Board approved a new labor contract between the Estacada teacher’s union and the school district that calls for teachers to get a 5 percent raise in this school year and a 2.5 percent raise in the 2016-17 school year.

“We are very happy (with this agreement),” said Sabrina La Londe, the district’s human resources coordinator. “There was a lot of give and take on both sides.”

The Estacada Education Association unanimously passed the new labor pact on Friday, Aug. 28, and then it was sent to the school board for their approval at the Wednesday, Sept. 9 meeting. They also approved it unanimously.

“It is a major win for the community that a contract was agreed to,” said Karen Spies, the Oregon Education Association’s consultant to the EEA. The agreement means there will be no teacher’s strike, as happened recently in Seattle, Wash. “The big win is for students.”

The salary boost will make Estacada more competitive in hiring and retaining teachers, Spies said.

Estacada’s teacher salaries are lower than those in the surrounding area, she explained. Estacada has been losing teachers.

The district hired 24 new teacher and specialists this year, with a few more job openings still to fill. That is triple the average of the last few years.

In 2014-15 the district hired 16, and seven in 2013-2014 and none in the 2012-2013 year.

The new labor agreement has multiple provisions.

The contract adds one school day per year, bringing the total to 191 days. The contract also boosts the number of “student contact days” to 180 from 176. “We all recognized the need for more instructional time,” Spies said.

Teachers also agreed to do five evening activities per year that benefit students. Those activities could include math nights or college nights or other events.

Elementary teachers also get 15 more minutes of class preparation time per week.

The district also increased its contribution to the teacher’s health insurance pool, so “no one will be paying out of pocket for their insurance,” Spies said.

“We created a mentor program for new teachers for up to two years,” La Londe said.

The starting salary for Estacada teachers is $42,489 a year, and that tops out at $70,815 per year.

The contract is a four-year agreement, but the new provisions are only for two years. Either side can reopen the negotiations in three or four years over the issue of salaries or insurance, Spies said. “There is a lot of uncertainty in our economy and in state school funding,” Spies said.

Said La Londe: “We’re all happy. We’re looking forward to a good year. Good things are happening in Estacada.”


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