Longview teachers say they’re puzzled as to why the district hasn’t hired more teachers to ease middle and high school crowding and that they’ll bring more class size proposals to the next round of bargaining sessions.
The next meeting between union negotiators and the Longview School District will be Wednesday.
District spokeswoman Sandy Catt said Thursday that the district and the union are “continuing to work together toward a resolution.”
She said, “We also believe in investing in our classrooms and are continuing to work hard to use the district’s resources wisely in the best interest of our students.”
Teachers rejected a contract Sept. 5, citing crowded classrooms as a major concern. They’ve held informational pickets at several school board meetings but remain on the job. The district subsequently hired 14 teachers to ease crowding in elementary schools, but teachers are still concerned about the secondary level, said Ray Clift, bargaining spokesman for the Longview Education Association.
The teachers praised the elementary hires but “it remains a mystery to teachers why the district is unwilling to make a similar investment in the secondary level,” according to a LEA press release.
Clift said there are high school physical education classes with more than 40 students. There also are large science classrooms and several crowded classroom on the middle school level, he said.
“They’re really pressed up against the limits,” he said. “And middle school crowding is the primary reason the contract wasn’t ratified.”
The district “is fortunate to have ample resources to make substantial improvements on class size,” the LEA press release states.
The union and district met for five hours Wednesday but were unable to reach an agreement, Clift said.
While they’re working without a contract, Clift said the teachers have not taken a strike authorization vote, nor does he expect one at this point.
“We really aren’t contemplating a strike at this point,” he said. “That would really be a long way down the road, and there would be a lot more talking before that would happen.”