Teachers' union says contract talks are at a standstill

Contract talks between the South Whidbey teachers' union and the school district have stalled, and union officials said they will ask a state mediator to step in.

The South Whidbey Education Association said it reached an impasse with the district on May 24, according to a news release issued by the union on Wednesday.

The union said it will ask the state Public Employment Relations Commission to provide a state mediator to help the association reach a new agreement with the school district. The commission is an independent state agency that resolves disputes involving public employers and their employees.

The South Whidbey Education Association represents roughly 129 teachers and certified staff. The current contract expires at the end of August.

Teachers had asked for two back-to-back 3 percent pay raises, and an increase of $120 per person per year in health insurance funding.

The South Whidbey School District proposed a pay increase of approximately .5 percent a year, according to the teachers' union, with no increases in health insurance. The union said the district also proposed more than 50 changes to the current contract that would "roll back" policies covering everything from academic freedom to teacher's planning time.

Union officials said the district can afford the proposals made by the association, and pointed to the estimated $1.1 million the district is expected to have in reserve at the end of the school year.

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