The Longview School Board tied up loose ends from the educators’ strike by approving a revised 2018-19 school calendar and the last of three union contracts at a special meeting Thursday night.
The revised calendar ensures students will spend 180 days in classrooms, as required by the state. Eight school days were lost to the strike.
The district worked jointly with the teachers’ union to update the calendar. The goal was to keep graduation on the same date and complete the school year as close to the original end date as possible, said Tony VanderMaas, executive director of leadership and learning.
The new calendar eliminates a teacher in-service day on Oct. 12, shortens winter break by three days and removes non-school days planned as snow day makeups.
“We do know there are some families that have plans already made. ... Our administrators know we will excuse those absences and work with those families to make up those days,” VanderMaas said.
Makeup days were added for June 14-17 “on the back end” of the school year should a weather cancellation occur.
The calendar changes also push fall and spring conferences back one week.
Although the unions for secretaries and classified staff were not included in creating the calendar, Board President CJ Nickerson asked that the district discuss the changes with their union presidents.
“I think it would be a good courtesy to make sure at least the leadership knows and can convey that to their members,” Nickerson said.
The revised calendar will be sent to parents on Skyward and posted on the district’s website.
Also Thursday the board ratified a two-year contract with the Service Employees International Union, which represents classified staff.
The new contract gives classified staff — bus drivers, teaching aides, nutrition services, custodial worker and others — a 9.5 percent raise over the next two years, with 6.75 percent slated for the 2018-19 school year. They are expecting to receive another 2.75 percent raise in 2019-20, depending on inflation.
In the second year of the contract, employees who have served 10 or more years will get a salary “step” increase of 3 percent. This step is an addition to the previous SEIU salary schedules.
“A lot of the people (have) stuck by the district, and I feel very strongly that people who have been there that long deserve that,” said Goldie Valentine, president for the Longview chapter of Service Employees International Union 925. Valentine added that these employees did not receive raises from the state for six years.
Superintendent Dan Zorn said the new contract also adds a section ensuring SEIU has the opportunity to present about the union and the benefits of membership to new staff, in response to the United State Supreme Court’s Janus decision regarding compelled union fees.
Classified staff voted to strike in solidarity with Longview teachers on Aug. 27, four days after the teachers walkout began. It was the first strike for an SEIU 925 chapter since 2001. The chapter represents 30 local K-12 unions in Southwest Washington.
“I’m so proud of what we did, and I’m also very honored to be been a part of that,” Valentine said. “Driving down the street and seeing all those people and how the community came and supported us ... it just touches my heart.”
The tentative agreements were reached around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, less than two days after a judge had issued an injunction declaring the strike illegal. Teachers and secretaries voted to accept their contracts later that evening, and the board approved those agreements at Monday’s board meeting.
SEIU’s ratification vote came later on Wednesday evening due to scheduling requirements in the union’s bylaws. The SEIU contract was the final labor agreement needing board approval.
Zorn publicly thanked Valentine and her bargaining teams for their work to find a settlement. He also acknowledged the work of the district’s bargaining team, led by VanderMaas.
“There’s an incredible amount of work that went into this agreement,” Zorn said.
The board shared their support of the classified staff before voting unanimously to accept the contract.
“I really appreciate the SEIU workers. For me, they are the backbone of what we do,” said board member Jennifer Leach.
“It’s often forgotten what goes on to support the rest of the work in the schools,” said board member Phil Jurmu.