The Aberdeen School District and the Aberdeen Education Association reached a mediated, tentative agreement on a contract at 1:40 a.m. September 6th, after a meeting that started at 5 PM the following evening.

The Aberdeen Education Association bargaining team has told the District that the tentative agreement will be presented to its membership after school today, Sept. 6th.
Details of the proposal will be made available after it has been ratified by the teachers.

A large group of teachers, supporters, family, and friends gathered in front of the administration building yesterday before the negotiations began. The street in front of the administration building was lined with red-shirt wearing supporters waving signs at passing cars who honked in support.

“We have unions here all the way from Portland Oregon that came up to support our teachers. That says something.” Union President Michelle Reed said yesterday, “You not only have your community members, parents here, other locals, but people coming all the way from Portland on their own personal time to support our teachers. That’s a statement, and I think that’s a statement that the school district needs to take a hard look at.”

Reed said yesterday, “Today is a rally to support teachers in their quest to get the McCleary dollars which has been deemed under the supreme court of the state of Washington, the legislature, and the voters, to pay our teachers fair wages to make up for the stagnant wages that we’ve had for the past few years, and to attract and retain quality professionals that our children deserve.

The district goes through this process annually, but Reed explained what’s different this year, “How the district chose to handle negotiations from the beginning.” In the past the union and the district would talk behind closed doors, Reed added, “Yes, doing just what Hoquiam is doing. Bargaining at the table behind closed doors where it should be done.”

Aberdeen School District Superintendent Alicia Henderson said in an overnight press release, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement without disruption to our families, staff and students,” Henderson added, “We all want the best education possible for our students.”

Aberdeen teachers ratified a three-year agreement with the School District at a general membership meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Superintendent Alicia Henderson said she is pleased the District was able to reach agreement with the teachers in time to keep the school running smoothly.

“This is a stretch contract for us, but we’re happy to have an agreement with our teachers that achieves our shared goal of establishing a competitive salary schedule,” Dr. Henderson said. “We are looking forward to a great school year.”

The median salary for a teacher in the Aberdeen School District will be $70,030 under the new agreement. The median household income in Washington State was $68,550 last year, and on Grays Harbor it was $48,517, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management. “It was very important to the District that we offer a competitive salary that allows us to attract and retain quality teachers for our children,” Dr. Henderson said.

The basic contract is for 180 days plus three days for professional development. The agreement establishes salary increases of at least 3 percent in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. There are no other changes to the previous contract that expired on August 31. There are 238 teachers and staff represented by the Aberdeen Education Association.

The contract will be presented to the Aberdeen School Board for approval at the next regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Dr. Henderson added that the state’s new funding model is very complicated, but one thing is very clear: “The Legislature’s McCleary Solution does not fully fund education as promised.” Instead, the Legislature has created huge inequities across the state. “Aberdeen is among the districts that is not adequately funded by the state,” the superintendent added. “As a result, we are reviewing all of our expenditures to identify where we can achieve increased efficiencies and potential reorganizations.”

“We will continue to manage our district responsibly with the funds available while advocating for equitable funding for schools on Grays Harbor,” she added. “Our students deserve the same opportunities the state provides elsewhere.”