First day of school in limbo until Kennewick educator's Monday vote

First day of school in limbo until Kennewick educator's Monday vote

After 16 hours of negotiations on Tuesday, the Kennewick Educators Association and Kennewick School District reached what they're calling a tentative agreement about salaries this upcoming school year.

They also agreed not to disclose the details of the agreement until the union votes on Monday.

Kennewick Education Association president Janet Bell said she's cautiously optimistic, but because she can't read minds she isn't sure how the union's 1,100 members will vote.

"We'll know when we get there, I guess. We'll do everything we can to communicate, and then we'll see what happens," she said before adding she's grateful there's something to vote on.

"We are, of course, hopeful it'll be acceptable to our members and that we can get it passed," she said. "But that's the fork in the road that's always been there: it's ratify [the agreement] or no-contract no-bargain."

Bell said the mediated meeting between union leaders and Kennewick Schools lasted until early Wednesday morning because educators deserve to know what they're working for.

Kennewick schools declined an interview but told Action News, but realeased a statement from Superintendent Dave Bond:

We are pleased to report that a tentative agreement has been reached between the Kennewick School District and the Kennewick Education Association on a new salary schedule for the last year of the current three-year contract. Both sides met from 9:30 a.m. to just after midnight, working with the help of PERC mediation, to come to an agreement on the new salary schedule. The membership of the Kennewick Education Association will vote to accept the proposed salary schedule Memo of Understanding (MOU) on Monday, August 20 at 4 p.m.

For now, Bell is planning to start school on time but she said union members are upset at how the district has handled things and could vote it down.

"If it comes to the worse outcome, it wasn't for any lack of us trying to get this to move forward," she said. "But we've had more obstacles thrown in our way than we could ever imagine for no good reason."

Bell said if members vote against ratifying the agreement they'd still have to vote for a strike.

Members of the Kennewick Education Association are scheduled to vote on the temporary agreement on Monday, August 20 at 4 p.m.

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