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District, union reach agreement
The Issaquah School District and the Educational Assistants have reached an agreement on their contract. The union, SCIU 925, voted to agree to the terms during its meeting Tuesday night. “This contract might not have been the easiest to get to,” Spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said. “But they did good work to get one that serves everybody.” The E.A.s and the district have been in dispute, and the 285 E.A.s in the district have been working without a contract since Aug. 31. One of the sticking points in the contract negotiations had been the wording in the contract that would allow them to opt out of working with students whose behavior poses a safety threat. The district felt that teachers and aides shouldn’t choose who they work with, while E.A.s wanted the option of not working with a student they felt might be a danger. An arbitrator had to be brought into the negotiations, and ruled with the E.A.s last week. For the most part the district hires a “unique-needs specialist,” someone who is assigned to work one-on-one with certain special needs students. However, when unique needs specialists are on vacation or unavailable, the student still needs a one-on-one person, at which point the E.A.s are called upon. Under the new contract, in this instance a volunteer would be asked for. If no E.A. volunteers, then the district can select the least senior E.A. to serve. “This is a system that respects the safety of the E.A.s and allows the district to make sure that someone is serving these special kids,” Niegowski said. Other items in the contract include: •The district raising wages .5 percent above the state cost of living estimates. •The ability to cash out leave. •Longevity pay is $.10 per hour increase for 15 years of service and $.20 per hour increase for 20 years of service.