Washougal, WA — The Washougal School Board approved a new, two-year contract with the Washougal Association of Educators at its Tuesday, August 25 board meeting.
The contract puts equity, diversity, and inclusion front and center for the district, with a major investment in teacher training on equity this coming school year. The district is excited to be partnering with the Washougal Association of Educators (WAE) as well as the statewide Washington Education Association to provide culturally responsive practices training for all teaching staff. The contract includes new language around inclusive practices, and language to remove barriers to student participation that are created through discipline processes. This work will help both groups work to eliminate the achievement gaps for our diverse learners, as school leaders and teachers work together to authentically know all learners, nurture relationships that build common understanding, and challenge each of us to disrupt systemic racism in our society.
The contract also features an investment in additional teacher training focused on technology to build skills and to ensure quality implementation of the new impactED remote learning model.
“Our vision to know, nurture and challenge all students to rise remains in place,” said WSD Superintendent, Mary Templeton. “This training will help our teachers deliver positive and engaging learning experiences for our students.”
The contract includes a state provided increase in compensation across two years, along with additional paid training time.
“This keeps the district’s overall compensation in alignment with our region, so that we can continue to attract and retain great teachers,” said Aaron Hansen, Assistant Superintendent of HR & Student Support.
“WAE are happy to have the contract in place for the next two years,” said Eric Engebretson, WAE President. “It is one less item on teachers’ plates.”
This agreement makes changes to Special Education language that provides more equity to Special Education teachers as compared to general education teachers.
Other contract features are additional non-discrimination language, changes in leave provisions, creation of a guest teacher (substitute) handbook, and more structure for teacher involvement in equity and school building leadership teams.
“This was an unusual bargaining process for many reasons,” said Hansen. “We held about 18 bargaining sessions; all were done over Zoom. Both sides worked extremely hard to listen, to seek common ground, and to collaborate as we solved issues in the contract. It is the first time in quite a while we’ve settled a contract without support from a mediator.” Engebretson added “I think that this is one of the earliest contracts to be settled between WAE and WSD. We appreciate the work the Union and District did together to come to an agreement.”
The tentative agreement was reached at the bargaining table July 29. WAE membership ratified it in a general meeting on August 21, and the WSD Board approved it at the August 25 board meeting.