Daunting details: Teachers’ union, district, continue discussions

October 2019 Posted in Community, People, School

By Brenna Wiegand

Contract negotiations between Silver Falls School District and the Silver Falls Education Association resumed Sept. 24 after the union, frustrated, walked out of the Aug. 5 bargaining session.

More than 100 educators and community members turned out in red to support the teachers’ union Sept. 24.

Negotiations officially began May 15; the last contract expired in July. Negotiations can go on long as both sides feel progress is being made. After 150 days, either side can request mediation.

Another meeting was scheduled for Oct. 9, after press deadline for this edition of Our Town.

Sept. 24’s session centered around contract verbiage and compensation, the two most important issues for the union – as well as this year’s key sticking points.

“Most of our proposals have to do with language changes that stem from the actions taken against the teachers which led to the recent arbitration cases,” SFEA President Michelle Stadeli said. “Two of the biggest issues are surrounding Evaluation and Grading Practices. The current language is too generic and needs to be strengthened to offer more protections for teachers.”

This, she said, is where they’ve seen the least movement from administration.

“The volume of language changes has been the most difficult aspect,” Silver Falls School District Assistant Superintendent Dan Busch said later. “I do not think there is any one issue, but there are a lot.”

Progress was made on, among other things, parts of the contract having to do with the handling of in-service, snow days and parts of teacher evaluation proceedings. Later in the evening the union turned to salaries.

The union presentation compared Silverton’s teacher salaries with those of others and ultimately found SFSD’s rate of pay at least eight percent below average of “most other school districts of comparable size and within reasonable driving distance.”

Ten of the educators in attendance gave personal testimony as to what their salary would be at other given districts.

Stadeli said their request is to be brought up to average.

“It is always a balance of trying to pay teachers what they deserve, be competitive with other districts, and make sure we can pay for all the other costs associated with running a school district,” Busch said subsequent to the meeting.
Our Town will report on the Oct. 9 meeting in our Nov. 1 issue.

Negotiations continue
The public is welcome to attend the next open bargaining session between Silver Falls School District and the Silver Falls Education Association, 4-6 p.m. Oct. 28 in the SHS choir room.

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