Tuesday evening the Reynolds School District’s Bargaining Team once again disrespected educators and threatened to further harm students. Instead of making an offer in Article 22 (compensation) to move the needle for Reynolds out of the metro cellar (14th out of 14 districts), RSD low-balled educators with a three year offer of 3%, 2.5% and 2%. RSD’s offer would guarantee that RSD educators remain at the bottom of the barrel in the greater Portland area for the foreseeable future. Worse, the offer does not even keep up with inflation. Ultimately, RSD’s offer hurts Reynolds’ students as it makes retaining highly qualified staff more difficult. The end result is greater staff turn-over, creating a loss of institutional knowledge and more inconsistency for students, all of which goes against the district’s own Strategic Plan.
This year alone the district lost over 100 educators, many of whom took jobs with neighboring districts where they could make $5-10,000 more per year. This brain drain has been going on for many years but went from a trickle to a torrent this year. Veteran educators who dedicated tens of years to Reynolds students left to go to Portland, Parkrose, Centennial, David Douglas, and Beaverton. Young BIPOC educators have declined offers and gone elsewhere. Building hiring committees are having to keep interviewing as candidates take jobs in other districts, often finding no candidates to interview, thus leaving many positions unfilled across the district. There is a national teacher shortage and substitute teachers are scarce as hen’s teeth. Offering last place salaries will doom our students to last place support.
Your REA bargaining team is holding firm to our last offer of 7.5%, 5.5%, and 4% over three years. This offer would move Reynolds salaries to the middle of the metro 14 by the third year, assuming other districts keep pace with inflation. These are not outrageous numbers and the district has the money. By holding onto the money, the district believes it is being financially prudent. What is happening is that RSD is continuing to gut the viability and quality of our educator staff. This hurts our kids.
In Article 23 (Benefits) the district and REA have found some common ground, but that ground was given by REA in order to facilitate gains in Article 22. Without significant movement by RSD in Article 22, the agreements in 23 mean little. REA is submitting 22 & 23 as a package deal.
In Article 26 (Student Services) RSD and REA have found agreement for language regarding Special Education (26-A) and English Language Learners (26-B). The district is refusing language proposed by REA for 26-C (Social Workers, Counselors, and MTSS staff). REA is simply asking for a work group to be formed comprised of RSD administrators and REA members to collaborate on issues important to the work of these specialized staff. RSD says, “No.” RSD says, “It is covered in the Strategic Plan.” REA argues that strategic plans come and go with the administrators and board members who initiate them. RSD’s Bargaining Chair could not recollect the number of different strategic plans seen in his tenure. REA believes the work of these special groups needs lasting representation and accountability in the contract.
RSD and REA have agreed to hold a side bar to discuss elements of Article 27 (Class Size & Work Load) and Article 25 (Reduction In Force). A side bar is a closed meeting between a few members of each side’s bargaining team. It is used to share information and clear obstacles or misunderstandings that prevent agreement in open negotiations. Both articles are impacted by new Oregon laws. Article 27 is impacted by Senate Bill 280 which takes effect 1/1/22. Article 25 is impacted by House Bill 2001 which takes effect now. Hopefully the side bar will get the two teams on the same page and lead to agreements in open sessions.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday, 10/5/21, from 5:00PM to 8:00PM. Please look for the zoom link coming to your calendar soon. In the meantime, please look for ways to actively support a fair and equitable bargain for the welfare and future of our students and staff.
Your REA Bargain Team:
Molly Frye, Brian Jay, Bruce Marsh, and Joyce Rosenau
Visit here for the latest bargaining updates from your union.