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Battle Ground schools avoid strike, though new contract still not signed
Battle Ground Public Schools started the 2023-24 school year on time Wednesday, Aug. 30, even though teacher contract negotiations continued through the week.
The Battle Ground Education Association voted not to strike the day before school was scheduled to begin. The school district’s current contract with the teachers union was set to expire Aug. 31, the second day of school.
BGPS and BGEA have been in contract negotiations since January, according to the district. Initially those negotiations centered around working conditions language that didn’t impact the district budget, BGPS spokesperson Amanda Richter said in an email.
Following the Washington State Legislature’s work on the state budget this spring, negotiations shifted to compensation, Richter said. The latest offer from the district would see compensation rise by 16.75% over three years.
Where the district and the union differ is on the first year’s increase. BGPS is offering 8.75% in the first year, while BGEA is seeking an 11.75% increase for the 2023-24 school year, according to information from BGPS.
Representatives of the Battle Ground Education Association did not respond to a request to comment as of press deadline.
While BGPS avoided a delay to its school start, to the south, Camas and Evergreen school district teachers unions moved to strike last week. Battle Ground experienced a 12-day strike in 2018, when teachers across North Clark County stood on picket lines over negotiations of how new state money would be dedicated.
As of Friday, the district and union were still in negotiations, a district statement read.
“Our board of directors and leadership team are committed to bargaining in good faith to provide staff with wages and working conditions that are comparable to surrounding districts and within the capacity of the district’s budget,” the statement read. “We appreciate our staff, families’ and community’s patience as we work through this process.”
As of press deadline, the next negotiations were scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5, according to Richter.