Bargaining Update, Friday, Sept. 16

The Ridgefield School District has been actively engaged in bargaining with the Ridgefield Education Association (REA). The bargaining teams met on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and are scheduled to meet again beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 18. The district continues to approach each bargaining session in good faith and remains hopeful for resolution through established bargaining practices, under the direction of a state mediator from the Public Employment Relations Committee.

The district has offered a financial package that includes increases to base salaries for every teacher, as well as the full Implicit Price Deflator Index, or IPD (also known as COLA) from the state. IPD is money provided to the district for staff salaries and benefits. The district’s proposal includes a financial package that is regionally competitive, fiscally responsible, and sustainable for the district.

The district believes that it has reached agreement on the majority of the outstanding issues, including:

  • Enhanced teacher salaries
  • A shortening of the salary scale by two years so teachers reach their maximum salaries more quickly
  • Reduced class sizes and caseloads for special education staff and programs
  • Increased overload pay
  • Increased stipends for extracurricular activities
  • Increased staffing hours
  • Removal of AM/PM supervision time (giving that time back to teachers for additional classroom planning and preparation time)

The REA is currently asking for new language in their contract regarding changes to “regionalization.” Legislative funding allocations to a school district are based on regional differences, as determined by the state.

Regionalization is stated as a factor with 1.0 being the base allocation. Certain districts receive a higher allocation (with factors such as 1.06, 1.12, 1.18, or 1.24) from the state in recognition of the varying costs of living in different cities and regions. These factors are multiplied by the minimum allocation figures to determine how much revenue school districts receive from the state. More funding is received by school districts with higher regionalization factors.

Consistent with RCW 28A.150.410, the regionalization factor for most school districts in Clark County, including Ridgefield, is 1.06 (Camas has a factor of 1.12). Beginning in 2023-24 (and every 4 years thereafter), regionalization factors must be reviewed and rebased by the state Legislature. This does not guarantee a change to a regionalization factor, but rather ensures a re-examination every 4 years.

Regionalization is a new provision that came about as a result of the McCleary decision. Since the next school year (2023-24) will be the first time the Legislature re-examines regionalization, it is unclear if associated Legislative guidelines will change. With this in mind, the Ridgefield School District has proposed a contract reopener clause for salaries (Article 4, Section 15). This allows the REA and the RSD to exercise the reopener clause to discuss regionalization, should there be a change.