School year starts with teacher strikes in Camas and other districts

The first day of school in Camas was disrupted by a teacher strike on Monday, as the Camas Education Association (CEA) and the Camas School District (CSD) failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. The CEA, which represents about 450 teachers, voted to authorize a strike last week, citing issues such as class size, special education support, and salary cuts.

Why are Camas teachers striking?

The CEA and the CSD have been negotiating since January, but have not been able to resolve their differences. The CEA claims that the district’s latest offer would effectively reduce teachers’ pay by increasing their workload and reducing their planning time. The CEA also says that the district has not addressed the needs of students with special needs, who require more individualized attention and resources.

School year starts with teacher strikes in Camas and other districts
School year starts with teacher strikes in Camas and other districts

The CSD, on the other hand, says that its offer is fair and competitive, and that it includes a 4.95% raise for the upcoming school year. The district also says that it has made progress on several issues, such as staff schedules and funding for music and library programs. The district says that it is facing financial challenges due to declining enrollment and rising costs.

How are students and parents affected?

The strike has forced the district to cancel classes for about 7,000 students in Camas, who were supposed to start school on Monday. The district has not announced when school will resume, and has advised parents to check its website for updates. The district has also said that it will not provide transportation, meals, or childcare services during the strike.

Many parents have expressed frustration and disappointment with the situation, as they have to find alternative arrangements for their children or take time off work. Some parents have also expressed support for the teachers, saying that they deserve better working conditions and compensation. Some students have also joined the picket lines to show solidarity with their teachers.

What is happening in other districts?

Camas is not the only district in Clark County that is facing labor disputes with its teachers. Evergreen Public Schools, the largest district in the county with over 1,500 teachers, also voted to authorize a strike last week, if a deal is not reached by Aug. 31. Evergreen teachers are asking for more support for special education students, cost-of-living increases, and a solution to the shortage of substitute teachers.

Battle Ground Public Schools, another large district with over 800 teachers, is also in negotiations with its union, which has scheduled a membership meeting for Friday to decide on possible actions. Battle Ground teachers are seeking smaller class sizes, more planning time, and competitive salaries.

All three districts are scheduled to start school on Aug. 30, but that could change depending on the outcome of the negotiations.

What are the next steps?

The CEA and the CSD are expected to resume talks on Monday evening, with the help of a state mediator. Both sides say that they are willing to continue bargaining until a resolution is reached. However, they also say that they are prepared for a prolonged strike if necessary.

The CEA says that it will not return to work until it has a fair contract that meets the needs of its members and students. The CSD says that it will do everything possible to avoid further disruption of the school year and to reach an agreement that is affordable and sustainable.

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