State mediator called in for Port Angeles School District, paraeducators negotiations

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School District has secured a state mediator for negotiations with the Port Angeles Paraeducator Association.

The district enlisted the help of a mediator through the Public Employment Relations Commission, a sate agency with jurisdiction over public sector labor relations and collective bargaining.

At the last negotiations session Oct. 30, the district had offered the paraeducators a 3.5 percent pay increase, and the association countered with 22 percent. Paraeducators voted Nov. 6 to authorize a strike to begin Thursday if the school district does not make a “fair and equitable offer,” their lead negotiator Barbara Gapper has said.

“The district is dedicated to providing our students with a quality educational experience,” the district said in a statement. “We recognize that a strike would be disruptive to our district’s staff, students, school families and the community at large. For this reason, the district worked diligently to secure a mediator quickly and remains dedicated to resolving the issue in order to avoid a strike.”

Paraeducators are among the lowest paid employees in the Port Angeles School District. Base pay for a paraeducator is $15.68 per hour.

The school district said in a news release and on social media Friday that with a 3.5 percent raise paraeducators would be almost the best paid in the region.

The school district approved on Thursday a 4.1 percent raise for other classified staff.

Paraeducators work on a 183-day annual contract and are paid for 11 holidays.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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