Negotiating teams for Hockinson School District and the Hockinson Education Association (HEA) are working into the night with a mediator from the state Public Employees Resource Commission (PERC).
They engaged in mediation Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, from 9 a.m. until midnight. Negotiations resumed at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27. The District is willing to stay at the table for as long as it takes to reach a tentative agreement on a new contract. HSD is striving to provide its staff with competitive compensation while ensuring contracts are affordable and sustainable for the District.
The goal remains to start school on time, Wednesday, Aug. 29.
The District appreciates the hard work of members of both negotiating teams and extends its thanks to its entire staff, and students and families for their patience. This is a difficult time for everyone who works, studies and plays in Hockinson’s schools. However, we believe in the integrity of this system, which gives us an opportunity to share our concerns and work together for what we trust will be a positive outcome.
HSD is not alone in facing challenging negotiations. According to today’s Columbian, six Clark County school districts have requested mediation, and 21 school districts statewide have submitted requests to PERC for mediation assistance. The same article says 255 certificated and classified contracts were opened this summer statewide, and 200 have yet to be settled, according to the Washington Education Association, the statewide teachers union.
Much of this turbulence is due to education funding changes made in 2018 by the state Legislature. In response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, the Legislature adopted a complex new funding model that has brought a new system of inequity to the state’s educational system. Although new money was added to the state’s education budget, the criteria the Legislature established to distribute it have created new inequities that have led to this exceptionally challenging season of negotiations—one that is dividing communities statewide.
Families of Hockinson students are encouraged to have alternative plans in place, in case a work stoppage delays the start of the 2018-19 school year. Sports practices for Hockinson High School and Middle School teams will continue as scheduled.
Updates will be posted on the District’s Labor Relations webpage and at 360-448-6401.