After full day of negotiating on Monday, the Bend-La Pine School District and the Bend Educators Association (BEA) came closer to a contract agreement.
“We’re making good progress during these full day sessions. For example, on Monday we discussed eight different topics and we reached agreement on several articles and are close on several more,” school district Chief Human Resources Officer Steve Herron said.
While some agreements have been made, negotiations over key issues are still ongoing. According to the district, the BEA’s current demands total $35.4 million with compensation being the union’s biggest request in negotiations.
The union’s current demands:
- Pay increase of 12.26%= $16.7 million for all employees
- An insurance cap increase= $11.8 million
- Additional planning days and holiday pay= $3.1 million
- Additional teachers (adding just one teacher per building)= $3.8 million
Union President Sarah Barclay says the issue of class size is a main priority and that adding more teachers would help reduce the number of students in classrooms.
The district say the union’s current request would do the opposite and could lead to layoffs.
“The legislature funded schools during the pandemic. That will run out next year. So the district has already been preparing to make those reductions. If we make commitments to negotiations that exceed our budget, naturally there would have to be additional reductions,” Herron said.
When asked if these demands could backfire and actually make class sizes larger due to shorter staffing, Barclay said, “What I’ll say to that is we haven’t even talked about class size at the bargaining table yet. It’s in our proposal and we haven’t found Bend-La Pine interested in having a conversation around it.”
While there are still several articles yet to be agreed on, both sides say they are optimistic a strike will be avoided.