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CV school district, union still far apart on salary negotiations

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash - Unable to come to an agreement on salaries, the Central Valley School District and the Central Valley Education Association are entering mediation, the district said in a letter to the community Friday.

It's an issue facing school districts across Washington, in the wake of the state supreme court's McCleary decision regarding the funding of basic education.

According to the letter, the school district is receiving more money from the state, but is also facing the loss of local levy dollars. 

The district said it offered the CVEA a little over $6.5 million, which "includes all the McCleary money designated for certificated salaries." The district said the money requested by the union "far exceeds" the McCleary allocation. 

The parties have been negotiating for weeks, but agreed to enter into mediation as the two sides are still too far apart.

School is scheduled to begin next Wednesday, September 5th. 

On its Facebook page Friday, the CVEA said it's working on a response to the district's email.

Here is the full letter, sent from Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small.

Dear Central Valley Community:

I wanted to provide an update to our community regarding the conversations underway between Central Valley Education Association (CVEA) and Central Valley School District (CVSD).

First, I want to say how much we appreciate the long standing, positive relationships we have with our local unions.  We are in partnership to serve our students and our community.  Our team - from certificated staff, classified staff, coaches and administration - are truly the heart of the district.

This is a year of change.  As our state funding model for education has drastically changed, districts all over the state are adapting to what this will mean-both in the short and long term.  While every district faces this challenge, it is uniquely different from one district to the next causing districts to bargain compensation models with their local unions.  One of the most significant changes is that, while we receive more money from the state, we also are facing the fact that we will receive much less money (54% less) from local levy dollars.  Over the past few weeks, CVEA and CVSD have been engaged in bargaining to address these challenges. 

With the changes in the funding structure in education, CVEA has expressed both publicly and at the bargaining table their desires to capture the new funding dollars for salary-known as McCleary dollars.  This new funding for certificated instructional staff in our School District is a little over 6.4 million dollars.  As of Wednesday, August 29th, we met what we thought the CVEA said was their request by proposing an offer totaling a little over 6.5 million dollars.  That's an offer by the district that includes all of the McCleary money designated for certificated salaries.   While we believe there has been hard work on both sides, the requests from CVEA far exceed this new McCleary allocation from the state.  Therefore, the parties have jointly filed for mediation with the Public Employee Relations Committee (PERC) to assist with this important work. 

We have a long-standing commitment to fiscal responsibility and sustainability for the benefit of our community, parents and students.  We are committed to being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and community support.  As we navigate the changes in how the district is now funded, it will be important for us to work together to ensure that the investments we make for our students are sustainable.  Given the significant loss in levy dollars we will experience, we will need to consider these thoughtful financial commitments each year to sustain programs and services to students and staff in our district. 

While there are many things to consider, we also recognize the need to be competitive with salaries in this ever changing market and funding structure.  With the most current offer put forth to CVEA, we would be the top paying district in the valley and in the top three of the districts in our region.  The top two districts in the region receive 6% more in state funding for certificated salaries.  Furthermore, we have different challenges than other school districts with enrollment growth and the need to open new schools. 

We feel confident that by working together, we will continue to build upon our commitment to high quality learning and teaching.  As we progress through this changing time, we will do our best to keep all of you apprised of our progress. 

We are excited to a start of a new year and happy to be part of this CVSD community.  Sincerely, Ben Small


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