Gresham-Barlow and teachers agree on contract
The Gresham-Barlow School Board is expected to approve a new three-year contract with its teachers that will give educators modest raises through the next three years and addresses teachers' safety concerns.
"Overall it was a positive process that resulted in a fair contract without mediation," said Cyrus Harshfield, bargaining chairman for the Gresham-Barlow Education Association and a chemistry teacher at Gresham High School. The deal covers 602 teachers and other licensed staff such as counselors.
The 602 staff members will get a 1.5 percent cost of living raise in the 2017-18 and in 2018-19 school years and a 1 percent raise in the 2019-20 school year.
For the district's part, Deputy Superintendent James Hiu, who oversees the district's human resources department, said the district was "pleased" to reach the tentative agreement after nine months of bargaining.
There also are new provisions in the contract that require formation of a committee that would review student conduct that presents potential school safety concerns, and development of safety plans for seriously disruptive students. The plan would cover students who engage in physical or verbal abuse and intimidation. Teachers "have been cursed at, hit, kicked, bitten and had objects thrown at them," including books, computers and chairs, Harshfield said. The new contract requires that every building have a committee for student discipline and safety.
The district and union also agreed to collaborate when bad weather causes changes to the school calendar.
"Typically the school board adds days onto the end of the school year in June to make up the necessary instructional time lost because of inclement weather days. As a result of this new language, we have been discussing alternative options that would still meet the state requirements but not impact the summer break for students and teachers," Harshfield wrote in an email.
Harshfield said that although there was no new language regarding class size, "the district and superintendent (Katrise) Perera have expressed they wish to reduce class size in the coming school years."