By Paradise Afshar, CNN
Educators in a Washington state school district went on strike Friday because the teachers’ union and the Ridgefield School District (RSD) remain at loggerheads following months of collective bargaining negotiations.
It’s not the only school district in Washington state that went on strike this week. Seattle teachers also walked.
In separate statements, the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) and the RSD acknowledged that while progress was made in their talks, the parties ultimately couldn’t reach an agreement.
“The district and REA met in bargaining sessions on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this week,” the district said in their statement Thursday. “Despite making progress, we unfortunately did not come to an agreement on the terms of a new contract and have been informed by the teachers’ union that they will be going on strike starting tomorrow, Friday, September 9.”
Members of the REA voted on August 29, with 92% approval to authorize their executive board to call a strike if it was deemed necessary to reach an agreement, according to the union. On September 5, the REA executive board voted to begin striking if no deal was reached by September 9.
“While progress has been made toward an agreement, the RSD team has refused to use its available funding to provide more mental health supports, improvements for special education students and a better program for student interventions,” a media release from REA said. “District leaders can’t just talk about making these a priority; solutions must be in writing in our contract.”
All schools and offices in the RSD are currently closed, according to the district’s website, and meal services will also be suspended until the strike is resolved.
The school district, which has a current enrollment of approximately 3,850 students, sits about 15 miles north of Vancouver, Washington, near the Oregon border.
Bargaining teams met on Friday and are expected to continue negotiating through the weekend or until a tentative agreement has been reached.
The Seattle Education Association, which represents about 6,000 employees — including teachers and other school professionals — in the state’s largest public school district, began a strike on Wednesday.
Seattle Public Schools remained closed on Friday due to the strike.
The CNN Wire
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