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Ridgefield school closure extended through Friday as teacher strike continues

The strike began Sept. 9 after negotiators failed to agree on a new contract ahead of a self-imposed union deadline. Bargaining has continued during the strike.
Credit: KGW
Ridgefield School District teachers and other faculty began a strike Sept. 9 amid ongoing union bargaining.

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. — Ridgefield schools will remain closed Friday, the Ridgefield School District announced Thursday evening. Friday will be the sixth missed school day since the district's teachers began striking late last week.

Negotiators from the district and the Ridgefield Education Association have met for bargaining sessions each day since the strike began, with a state mediator present for the proceedings.

The ongoing school closure has been extended on a day-by-day basis, with each day's closure usually announced by the district at around 5 p.m. the evening before.

The union issued a press release Wednesday evening declaring that its members had passed a symbolic vote of no confidence against Ridgefield superintendent Nathan McCann and two other senior administrators. 

"Union members have been surprised and disappointed with the district’s snail-like pace to come to the table prepared to work on creative solutions," the union wrote in the news release. 

RELATED: Ridgefield schools will stay closed Wednesday as teacher strike continues

The district issued its own press release Wednesday evening, declaring that it has offered "a fair and sustainable financial package" and outlining its proposed salary schedule and other proposed changes that it said were aimed at improving working conditions.

The union represents about 200 teachers and other staff in the district. Its previous three-year contract with the district expired just before the start of the current school year on Sept. 1. Bargaining for a new contract had been underway since June.

The district stated in Facebook posts throughout the week that schools would remain closed until the end of the strike, and missed days will need to be made up at the end of the year or during scheduled breaks, with the exact dates to be determined as part of bargaining.

RELATED: Teachers in the Ridgefield School District go on strike

When asked whether the strike would affect graduating seniors, the district replied that seniors are only required to have 175 days of instruction before graduating, rather than the 180 days per year required for other grade levels, but the graduation ceremony date won't be known until the strike ends.

Teacher pay, class sizes and special education support have all appeared to be sticking points in the negotiations. The district has posted a series of its own contract proposals publicly on its website since Aug. 29, some of which have added incrementally larger pay increases.

The union has highlighted those issues in multiple press releases both before and after the strike began, and the Wednesday press release also criticized the district for what the union characterized as an unwillingness to make improvements to its student intervention program.

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