Vancouver educators rally for safe schools, fair contract

Understaffed Educational Support Professionals working without contract demand action from Vancouver Public Schools


The following is from the Washington Education Association:

VANCOUVER, Wash. (Sept. 22, 2021) — Vancouver Public Schools leaders have put the health and safety of their staff and students at risk by refusing to offer fair compensation to classified school employees or fill dozens of empty positions in the district.

The district is trying to follow COVID protocols without proper staffing in schools across the district. Every single COVID Safety Room in the district has been left without assigned staff, despite students returning to school full time.

TAKE A STAND — Members of the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals (VAESP), who have been working without a contract since the start of the school year, will rally Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. at the Bates Center, 2921 Falk Road, to demand that Vancouver Public Schools offer a contract that will improve school safety while attracting and retaining the vital educators Vancouver students deserve.

Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Snell reported to the VPS school board on Sept. 14 that the biggest challenge to the new school year has been the inability to hire adequate staffing. Snell said that this was particularly hard on special education students supported by VAESP members.

“Having those positions posted, and not being able to fill those yet. It’s a real challenge right now,” Snell said to the school board.

While the district struggles to fill openings, Snell and School Board President Kyle Sproul are also forcing VAESP members to work without a contract and refusing bargaining demands for fair pay and safe staffing levels.

“The school board’s refusal to offer a fair wage or to have any urgency in filling vacancies has directly resulted in understaffed schools that put staff and students in unsafe conditions,” VAESP President Barb Plymate said. “Students are not getting the support they need and deserve, despite the district sitting on tens of millions of dollars in fund reserves and federal COVID relief.”

VPS and VAESP will continue negotiations on Sept. 22, along with a state-assigned mediator.

VAESP members are holding a rally today (Wednesday, Sept. 22) at 5 p.m. at the Bates Center, 2921 Falk Road, demanding VPS offer VAESP a contract that will attract and keep the vital educators Vancouver students deserve.

VAESP represents secretarial, technology support specialist, clerical, paraeducator, braille transcriber, and aquatics employees.

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