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Salem-Keizer Public Schools Calls For Union Leaders To Remain At The Bargaining Table After Union Declares Impasse

SKEA declares impasse SKPS calls for union leaders to stay bargaining table

Salem-Keizer Public Schools Calls For Union Leaders To Remain At The Bargaining Table After Union Declares Impasse

On the seventh day of mediation between Salem-Keizer Public Schools and the Salem Keizer Education Association, the licensed association declared impasse, making the first move toward a possible strike. The district is committed to remaining at the bargaining table to avoid a strike by licensed employees.

In the event of a strike, all schools in Salem-Keizer would close schools.

“When we shared our offer with the licensed association, we were clear that this is all we could offer - anything more will do lasting harm to our schools,” said SKPS Superintendent Andrea Castañeda. “They rejected our maximum offer and declared impasse, functionally abandoning the bargaining process. But we aren’t giving up because we know that a strike will hurt students and our community.”

The district’s latest offer to teachers and licensed educators includes a 9.5% raise over two years, increased insurance benefits, a $5,000 retention and recognition bonus and additional teacher prep time at the elementary level. The total value of the offer is over $37 million and includes the largest year-over-year increases in memory.

A sticking point since bargaining began in April of 2023 has been around class size. The district is already facing an over $30 million budget gap and will need to reduce hundreds of staff to balance the budget for next year. The school district has very real constraints and cannot hire more staff to reduce class size, while also making staff reductions.

“The licensed association has presented a mathematically impossible demand,” said Castañeda. “We would love to pay our staff even more, hire more teachers, and have smaller class sizes — but the reality is that our district, like the districts around us, has to close a budget gap. We cannot pay people more, layoff staff and reduce class size. It is mathematically impossible because everything is a tradeoff.”

The district has been navigating a difficult budget situation as the true cost of running schools continues to rise.

“We value and respect our staff. We’ve already offered more than we can afford, and it is still less than they deserve,” said Castañeda. “The state funding formula is falling short for Salem-Keizer, for our students and our staff. We are committed to continue bargaining with union leaders to reach a fair contract and we are committed to supporting school funding reform on behalf of all students across our state.”

Watch the full statement from Superintendent Castañeda on SKPS YouTube in English or on SKPS YouTube in Spanish.