Evergreen Public Schools delays first day while teacher strike looms

File image - Evergreen Public Schools

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Evergreen Public Schools is delaying its first day of classes Tuesday while negotiations continue between the district and the Evergreen Education Association.

Teachers within the district voted Thursday that they would strike on the first day of school, Tuesday, Aug. 28, if they did not reach an agreement.

"We're concerned that the district has put it off for this long," said Bill Beville, president of the Evergreen Education Association which represents teachers in the district. "We got our first offer on August 15th and of course it's going to be difficult for us to get all the way to an agreement by now."

Since teachers and the district have not reached an agreement yet, Evergreen Public Schools will not open Tuesday. They plan to send families an update Tuesday about whether the school will open Wednesday.

The district says it will post daily updates on it's website. Click here to go to the website.

"Well you know, we actually haven't thought about that," said parent Sandy Montiel about the class cancellation. "I mean I do want my kids to start school, but, I mean, I also feel for the teachers. You know they do deserve to be getting what they are asking for."

Evergreen School District says all back-to-school activities scheduled for Monday are still expected to happen and middle school and high school athletics are continuing with scheduled practices, games, matches and meets because the coaches are covered under a separate contract.

Tuesday morning, all school buildings will be closed to the public and any staff not in paid status or scheduled to work. The district’s administrative service center will continue to be open and operate as normal.

The district and Evergreen Education Association currently are entering the third year of a valid contract. However, the district agreed, although not legally obligated to do so, to enter into discussions with EEA following the new state legislation regarding school funding.

The current offer on the table from the district includes all of the newly allocated funds provided by the state for teacher salaries (which is $69,129 per full-time teacher) plus an additional $10,264 per teacher beyond state funding from the local levy, for a total salary average of $79,393. The starting salary for a new teacher would be $50,687, while the most experienced teacher would receive $96,045, which includes an additional 2.0 percent longevity increase.

Presently, Evergreen’s teacher compensation is the highest in Southwest Washington, and with this proposal, will more than likely ensure it remains at the top, according to district officials.

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