Contracted: School district, teachers agree

February 2020 Posted in News, School

By Brenna Wiegand

It took eight months, but Silver Falls School District and Silver Falls Education Association have shaken hands on a contract.

The school board ratified a three-year contract Feb. 3. Silver Falls School District Assistant Superintendent Dan Busch said the administration made a special effort to get teachers their retroactive pay, providing educators the reimbursement along with their paychecks for February.

“That was something that the district really wanted to be able to do for our teachers,” Busch said. “As bargaining was winding down, we made a verbal commitment to provide that retroactive check within 30 days.”

“We think it’s pretty cool, too,” Michelle Stadeli, Silver Falls Education Association President said. “We appreciate their willingness to pay us in a lump sum; we’re all looking forward to that February check for sure.”

The current year’s compensation schedule includes a 6 percent increase: a 3 percent one-time market adjustment and a 3 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

The 2020-21 salary schedule will include a 3 percent COLA, and in 2021-22 a 4 percent COLA will be applied.

“I’m glad we were able to invest in our teachers’ salaries because they work really hard,” Busch said.

This year the teacher’s union pushed for extensive language and policy changes providing teachers with greater protection in areas that include teacher evaluations, grading disputes and involuntary transfers.

Other revisions include more funds for personal development, three rather than two personal leave days and a guaranteed prep period.

“We feel like with the things that were most important to us, as far as the language pieces go, we were able to get some stronger language in there that will offer important protections for our teachers,” Stadeli said.

“While this process took longer than either side would have liked it to, I really feel like both sides were trying to listen and understand each other’s perspectives,” Busch said. “The relationship between the teachers’ association and school district leadership is going to be reliant on keeping communication open and working to solve problems before they become bigger issues.”

“It was a long haul for sure,” Stadeli said. “We’re very happy with the outcome of the contract; we really got everything that we needed. It was a lot of back and forth and trying to be responsive to what we were hearing but also sticking with what we needed for our members.

“There’s always an aspect of bargaining that feels adversarial because you’re both fighting for different outcomes,” Stadeli said. “I really do believe that with our contract being closed we can start looking at what it means to move forward.”

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