West Shore reaches tentative agreement
The West Shore School District and the West Shore Education Association announced they had reached a tentative agreement for a new contract Monday evening.
The agreement comes after nearly three years without a teacher contract in the school district, which has been operating off the previous contract since it expired. Sticking points included health care, the so-called "Cadillac Tax" — which would be issued in 2020 if the federal government believes the health care benefits are excessive — and teacher salaries.
On Sept. 8, the school board held a meeting to update the public on the negotiations with the West Shore Education Association. Teachers, parents and community members turned out to demonstrate.
After the meeting, the association rejected the school board's proposal and authorized a strike, but one never occurred. Instead, according to a joint news release issued by the association and the school district, the two groups held a "lengthy bargaining meeting" Monday that resulted in a tentative agreement for a six-year contract.
West Shore school board President Ronald Candioto said in the release that he believes the tentative agreement is “good for all parties, including district residents, and will help to establish a foundation for long-term financial stability. With an agreement in place, we will be able to put all of our focus on the number one priority of educating our students and continuing our efforts to make West Shore the best district possible.”
Both the district and the association still need to vote to ratify the agreement. The school board will vote on the contract at its meeting Nov. 10. The West Shore Education Association members also will meet on that day to review the agreement before they vote Nov. 14.
Kevin Downs, president of the association and a middle school science teacher, has been vocal about the union's frustration with the negotiations. In the news release, he expressed relief at the tentative agreement.
“We hope that we can now move forward, so that we can continue providing the best education for West Shore’s students,” Downs said. “We believe we’ve negotiated a reasonable contract that was a fair compromise between the education association and the school district."
Neither Downs nor a school representative immediately returned a request to comment.