Contract negotiations between teachers and the Bend-La Pine School District are taking a break while students are out of school on their winter holiday.
Both sides say negotiations were on a good trajectory leading up to the winter break. There were six full days of bargaining over the past two weeks.
Central Oregon Daily News spoke with representatives on both sides Monday. They are cautiously optimistic that an agreement might be reached early in the New Year.
“We would love to get an agreement on the table and get that ratified by our members. We were on a good trajectory before break,” said Sarah Barclay, Bend Education Association President.
“Over the past two weeks, we had six full days of bargaining and we got closer but we are still not done and will take a break for the holidays and will resume in January,” said Scott Maben, Bend La Pine Schools Communications Director.
The school district and the teachers union have yet to reach agreement on nine contract articles. Among them are association rights, professional improvement, leave time, work schedules, insurance benefits, and the big one: compensation.
“The district’s last proposal was to give our teachers and certified staff an increase of 5.5% this school year and 4% next school year. Plus adding another day of work to their contract year that and equates to roughly 1/2 of 1% pay increase,” Maben said.
The district’s last offer was for about a 10% increase in compensation over two years. The teachers are asking for 20% over the same timeframe, so there’s still some negotiating ahead.
“We have not received a cost of living adjustment, which means our folks are trying to manage their bills and their ability to live in Bend based on last year’s salary. There are certainly some impacts and some frustration,” Barclay said.
However, once a contract is reached, the district says it will be retroactive, paying teachers the new rate from when their contract expired six months ago.
“We are going to continue to bargain until we reach a fair arrangement,” Barclay said.
The school district presented a full package proposal during the last day of negotiations before winter break. Barclay says that “muddied” the back and forth negotiating procedure the teachers union had been pursuing.