While late negotiations between the Camas Education Association (CEA) and Camas School District (CSD) bargaining teams continue, educators and community members rallied Friday at 11:30 am for about 45 minutes to have their voices heard. Both sides are working today to iron out a tentative agreement that would avoid a teacher’s strike on Monday, August 28, the first day of the new school year.
Rally supporters heard from CEA President Marci Zabel, the union’s Vice President, Michael Sanchez, as well as among others. Lacamas Magazine also spoke to former CEA President Shelly Lee.
The CEA voted this week to authorize a strike if a tentative agreement isn’t reached by August 28, which is the first day of school.
“Both CEA and our district negotiation teams are hard at work finding solutions that provide needed supports for students and staff, as well as competitive, sustainable compensation. It is our fervent hope that we can solidify an agreement as soon as possible,” said Dr. John Anzalone, Camas Superintendent.
The CEA claims the District is holding $16 million in reserves that aren’t being used to help students. Earlier this year, the Camas School Board voted to use $8.5 million in reserve funding, which helped offset Spring layoffs.
So, how much reserves does CSD have?
The $8.5 million spend down of reserves started this year:
- 2022-23: $3.0M
- 2023-24: $2.7M
- 2024-25: $2.8M, with an anticipated 8% minimum fund balance.
CSD will end the current fiscal year on August 31, 2023, with a fund balance of 10.3 percent ($12.8M). And, many teachers who were laid off were able to be hired back.
“Most of the teachers who received reduction in force notices (RIF) in the spring shifted to other positions in the district based on seniority and teaching endorsements,” said Doreen McKercher, CSD Communications Director. “We then hired a few positions back after the legislative session was completed, and we were allocated additional funding.”
FRIDAY’S VIDEO REPORT: https://youtu.be/SYCSgkfeeUw?si=mN8k9LiWLF0gJnxe
CEA seeks the following:
Lower Class Sizes: Proposing lower class sizes in key areas, such as Kindergarten. The CEA says Camas School District (CSD) returned their proposal by suggesting schools raise class numbers for grades 4 and 5. CEA is proposing teachers get compensated for exceptionally large classes at all secondary levels in order to discourage creating huge classes.
Camas High School teacher, Tom Sawyer, says his classes are typically 38-40 students, which he says is “hard to manage.”
Cost of Living Allowance, or COLA: CEA wants CSD to honor the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has been in their contract for three years, and was bargained for in 2020. CEA says “… the District wants to switch to the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD). Last year, CPI (5%) was lower than IPD (5.5%) and CEA didn’t push back.”
CSD is offering a 4.7% COLA at this time. CEA is asking for more (an exact amount has not been given).
McKercher confirmed: “It is 4.7% on salary, increased Professional Development, and an extra ½ day for training on Qmlative. (Qmlativ is the student information system that is replacing Skyward next summer.)”
Consistent Language around Work Hours: CEA wants their contract to include clarity around fundamental information such as work day start and end times. CEA says “This would also help to ensure equitable experiences across all of our buildings. Having reasonable and realistic start and ending times supports effective collaboration and preparation for our students.”
Manageable Student Caseloads: CEA proposes caseloads that allow Special Education teams to effectively provide student support and additional inclusive opportunities.
Protect Curriculum Planning Time: CEA says CSD wants to take away several additional Wednesday planning periods.
“No, our District has proposed giving teachers more prep and collaboration time, and the parties have reached a tentative agreement on this issue,” said McKercher.
CEA says: “While this impacts all members, it comes at the highest cost to our elementary members. Our highly educated and experienced educators need time to plan, create essential lessons, and collaborate with peers to best serve all students they serve.”
Equitable Funds for Student Resources: CEA says CSD has an obligation to invest in student programs, but they’re leaving distribution of funds for music, library, and PE at principals’ discretion. That means students have wildly different experiences in these classes. CEA wants these funds to be distributed equitably among buildings and programs.
The general fund budget for the District is $119.9 million for the 2023-24 school year.
Lacamas Magazine will provide updates as these negotations continue.