Negotiations Update Letter / November 6th, 2015

November 4, 2015

To Mr. Anderson and our School Board Directors, Mr. Hottowe and the District Negotiations Team, Parents, Families and Community members:

The educators of Battle Ground School District have been working without a contract since September 1st, 2015.  

BGEA began working on our contract language in March.  The Negotiations Team met and decided on several methods of informing, engaging and empowering our 825+ BGEA members.  We sent 2 surveys out to our members, and  the Negotiation Team  met with groups of individuals to seek their input and understanding of the current contract language.  Members of  the BGEA Negotiation Team attended coordinated bargaining meetings to look at other local districts and discuss the approach to Bargaining contracts.  

The results of our surveys and the meetings generated a list of priorities from  our educators for the BGEA Negotiation Team to take to the table.   The priorities included compensation, longevity, work load, class size, TPEP, professional development money ($200.00), and insurance pool increase.  

We first met with Mr. Hottowe and the District Negotiations Team on May 22nd, 2015 and presented our first proposal.  The Negotiations team has met with them 16 times since that first day.   We have also met many times  separately to prepare for the combined negotiation meetings.   On September 15th, 2015, BGEA received the first District Office counterproposal.

The BGEA Negotiation Team has continually communicated with our members, being mindful of the “confidentiality “agreement in our bargaining process.  The team has published and distributed school district compensation comparison charts to illustrate how Battle Ground School District educators are remarkably behind local districts in compensation.  We have gathered information on comparisons in the area of class size, professional development dollars and insurance pool increases as well.

District Office and BGEA agreed to apply for and received a mediator from PERC to aid in this challenging negotiations process. Although progress has been made in some areas, there is still so much work to be accomplished. BGEA has requested an additional mediator and a backup bargainer from WEA coming to assist in our continued negotiations process. We have also requested a Crisis Team from WEA to aid us moving forward.

The BGEA bargaining team will continue to fight for a contract that respects their members  work  and reflects their commitment to the Battle Ground students.  BGEA members stand with their team.


The BGEA Negotiations Team

Linda Peterson, Lynn Davidson, Sheryl Piper, Christy Sloan, Marina Schwartz, Eileen O’Connor,

Lorri Sibley, Jim Scheurman, Jamie Hurly

Columbian Article on BGEA Negotiations

Battle Ground teachers hope for pact

They’ve been working without contract since Sept. 1

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian staff writer

Published: November 11, 2015, 6:38 PM

Patience is taught in kindergarten, but it’s coming in handy at all ages.

Battle Ground teachers have been working without a contract since Sept. 1, and there is no end in sight as negotiations with the school district continue.

“You hold on to the hope that your employer will honor what the teachers have asked for,” said Battle Ground Education Association President Linda Peterson. “But it is a back-and-forth process.”

The association, which represents more than 825 teachers, started negotiating with the district in May and last month brought in a mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Commission.

The district made its latest offer Nov. 5 following three mediated bargaining sessions and more than a dozen previous meetings.

“There is no question that the overall compensation that our teachers receive is less than some of our neighboring districts, and yes they would like us to move closer to being comparable to those districts,” Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Mark Hottowe said.

However, details of the latest proposed contract were unavailable because of a confidentiality agreement, and neither side was forthcoming with the status of negotiations.

“At this time we’re not able to talk specifics about what the offer was, but only that we’ve made what we think is a fair offer,” said Hottowe, who started with the 13,000-student district in 2014.

A three-year contract expired at the start of the school year, though teachers continue to work while a new contract is getting hammered out.

Peterson wrote in an October BGEA newsletter that the union is “negotiating a new way with a superintendent of 15 months.”

“We recognized his potential to be a great superintendent,” she wrote. “As we move forward, we ask him to fairly compensate his employees.”

BGEA member surveys early this year showed that compensation, workload, class size and professional-development money were priorities to bring into negotiations, according to the union’s website.

Charts comparing compensation among neighboring districts have been circulated by the BGEA, and they show Battle Ground teachers lagging behind districts in several categories, especially professional-development money. Such payments are used for mandatory continued education.

“The educators in Battle Ground deserved to be part of the district budget,” Peterson wrote on the BGEA Facebook page. “We deserved to be considered a priority when determining where the dollars were spent.”

At the very least, both sides can agree on the need to reach an agreement and soon.

“It’s our hope we will continue to meet and work toward a center and get to a point in the near future where we get a tentative agreement and put this work behind us and concentrate on the work of helping kids to learn,” Hottowe said.

Peterson agreed.

“The bottom line on any of this is what is best for our students,” she said.

Brooks Johnson: 360-735-4547;;

BGEA Office Food Bank Open

There is food available for our BGEA members at the BGEA office. Our office is located at 10 SE 1st Street, Battle Ground.

You may call before you come to be sure I am at the office. I can always meet you here as well  / 360.608.2573

To all BGEA members, you may deliver food donations to the office or call so I can come by and pick up the donations in your building food buckets.