School is in session; Orcas teachers sign contract down to the wire

Some of the teachers protesting on Sept. 3. - Cali Bagby/Staff Photo
Some of the teachers protesting on Sept. 3.
— image credit: Cali Bagby/Staff Photo

Orcas students will start their first day of school tomorrow as planned.

Public school teachers have been protesting a “lack of contract” and advocating for “fair pay and fair contracts.” Their primary concerns were salaries and the new evaluation criteria the board approved in July.

A huge group of teachers gathered in front of the school this morning and marched through town. After four days of what was described as “intense” negotiations, the Orcas Island Education Association and the school district tentatively agreed to a contract on the evening of Sept. 3.

This is the roughest thing for us,” said board member Tony Ghazel during the meeting. “We've never seen our teachers strike – it would have been one of those days the kids would never forget. We're happy the teachers accepted this. It showed enormous courage; I am sure they wanted more.”

The last time Orcas educators protested their contract was five years ago. That time around, negotiations went on several months into the school year.

The particulars of the contract will not be made public until everyone involved has signed on the dotted line. The teachers' current contract will be in effect until the new one becomes official.


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