LOUD AND PROUD — District teachers gathered in front of Jefferson Elementary on May 16 to picket.

After entering into mediation, Cloverdale teachers reached a three-year contract agreement. The agreed upon contract outlines 2% on-schedule salary increases for the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, as well as a 2% increase each year in the form of four professional development days.

Ratifying the agreement passed by a 4% margin, Teachers Association of Cloverdale (TAC) President Erika Sauder said, meaning that 55% of the association was in favor.

When asked to explain the biggest difference between the adopted agreement and the ones requested by TAC earlier in the negotiation process, Sauder said that the biggest difference is that teachers work more days.

“We had originally asked for a higher salary increase to try and offset those days,” she said, adding that TAC’s goal is to eventually decrease the amount of professional development days, while increasing the on-schedule salary increase. “The district in the past has considered that a raise and we don’t because we’re working. Unfortunately the district wasn’t willing in the last offer to see us there, so we’re back to working 189 days and we have a 2% salary increase.”

For Sauder, the biggest improvement in the approved contract is an increase to the district benefit cap. Per the adopted contract, which was worked out during a mediation process on Aug. 30, the benefit cap will increase 0.75% retroactively for the 2018-19 school year to a cap of $8,400. For 2019-20, the cap will increase 1% to $9,400 and for 2020-21 it will increase 0.5% to $9,900.

Another change from year’s past is the implementation of a three-year agreement rather than a one-year, retroactive agreement. Initially, the teachers were “shocked” by the district bringing forth a three-year agreement because they feared it would be limiting, Sauder said. However, the teachers viewed it as amicable after hearing that other local districts were adopting three-year contracts as well.

In a May interview with the Reveille, Superintendent Jeremy Decker said that the move to a three-year agreement was presented as a way to “allow the district time to realize the increase in enrollment that we are hoping to see based on the construction planned to take place in Cloverdale, our newly approved independent study option at CHS and online academy that will be coming online in the fall of the 2019-20 school year.”

After three negotiation meetings between April and May of last school year, members of TAC joined other teachers throughout the county in pursuing the declaration of a negotiation impasse. Prior to an impasse being officially declared, TAC had to prepare and submit paperwork to the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB), who then determined that the negotiating parties had reached the point of needing help to make a deal. From there, PERB assigned a mediator to the negotiations, after which this agreement was reached.

While the negotiation process between the district and TAC is over until 2021, Sauder said that the teachers are still looking to make some changes when it comes to contract language.

“There are still things that we’re hoping to get accomplished,” she said. “We can’t open salary or benefits until the end of this contract, but there are still some other things, some contract language, that we’re looking to negotiate. We’re already looking to sunshine a few things.” 

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