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D21 agreements reached

— It came down to the eleventh hour, but bargaining teams for North Wasco County School District 21 and its employees have come to an agreement about contracts for teachers and education support professionals during their final bargaining session of the school year.

The agreements still have to be ratified by the respective associations and approved by the school board, so bargaining parties were hesitant to discuss details of the contract, but both sides said they were pleased to have a completed contract to present for a vote.

“It’s very exciting to have that, and to be at that point,” Superintendent Candy Armstrong said.

Lance Masters, president of the District 21 Education Association, said that he was very pleased with the district’s willingness to work together with the teachers to come to an agreement.

“Any time you have negotiations like this there’s give and take, there’s compromise and neither side ends up with everything they hoped for in the beginning,” he said.

“It’s a good sign for the progress of the school district that we were able to work through our differences.”

He said there were a lot of people to thank for making that happen, including the bargaining teams, members of the association, the teachers and classified staff who showed up in support and Armstrong.

Kim Birge, co-president of the North Wasco Education Support Professionals, said the association was “ecstatic” to reach a tentative agreement with district leadership.

“I feel like we all pulled together to get what’s best for our members,” she said.

She said that the support and collaboration between teachers and education support professionals as they simultaneously negotiated their contracts this year was very helpful. Both Birge and Masters also said they were excited that administrators were willing to listen to some new ideas and that some of those ideas survived in the final version of the contract.

Final points haggled over during the May 31 bargaining session included issues related to preparation time, compensation for required overtime, reduction in force procedures, professional development, PERS and insurance.

The contract is slated to come before the school board during its June 11 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Wahtonka campus.

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