Central Valley School District, union try to find common ground in salary talks

Central Valley School District, union try to find common ground in salary talks

The Central Valley Education Association’s bargaining team and representatives from the Central Valley School District spent Labor Day negotiating higher pay. The two sides met once again Monday to negotiate pay raises.

The district told KXLY4 the state supreme court’s McCleary decision set aside $6.4 million for education funding in Central Valley. Teachers are not satisfied with the district’s latest offer of $6.5 million for salaries.

Central Valley schools are supposed to start class Wednesday and that’s still the plan. If the district and the union cannot come to an agreement Monday, they’ll bring in a mediator, which has never been done before in district history. The district said the historic move to bring in a mediator wouldn’t necessarily be a bad sign.

“This is kind of unprecedented, but not necessarily unexpected with the change in the funding model that we currently have for education,” said Marla Nunberg, a spokesperson for the district.

CVEA president Wally Watson said the union is keeping a close eye on other districts in the area, as Mead teachers received 16 percent raises and Spokane teachers recently agreed to average 13 percent raises. Watson is concerned if CVSD educators don’t see similar pay raises, they could move elsewhere.

“My members have student loans, they have children they’d like to send to college and you have to be competitive,” Watson said. “The fear is we’re going to start losing teachers to go to a higher paying job. If you only have to drive 10 or 15 more minutes for 10,000 dollars more, it’s an easy decision.”

While the district’s latest offer isn’t cutting it for Central Valley educators, Watson said a strike isn’t on the table just yet.

“That’s a membership decision that has not been talked about at this point,” Watson said.

Watson said if the two sides cannot come to an agreement, a strike isn’t the only option. Teachers will be back in their classrooms Tuesday for the district’s orientation day. The first day of school is scheduled for Wednesday.