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Teacher Anja Felton meets with the girls before they run, jog, or walk the track, working toward their own personal fitness goals
Teacher Anja Felton meets with the girls before they run, jog, or walk the track, working toward their own personal fitness goals
Girls Run the World in Ridgefield School District (Photo) - 10/06/22

Twice a week after school, the View Ridge Middle School track fills with girls walking, jogging, and running toward achieving their personal goals. The now-familiar scene is part of Ridgefield School District’s community education class, “Girls Run the World.” Teacher Anja Felton designed the class to empower girls by helping them build confidence and strength—both mentally and physically.

Girls Run the World doesn’t require that participants run, but they do have to keep moving. While the class does involve exercise, it also offers Ridgefield fifth-through-eighth graders a broader definition of health and fitness. 

Before the students step on the track, they start in the classroom with an idea or activity that might help guide them toward positive change. Previous lessons have included nutrition, self-care, journaling, and the potential impacts of social media on self-esteem. Felton hopes the students will learn to feel good about themselves and how to handle stress and anxiety in healthy ways. “I want to give them more tools in their toolbox to deal with the things that impact girls this age,” Felton said. 

Today’s class activity is yoga, led by Mandy DeBord of MK Elevate. The class is punctuated with giggles and off-balance wobbles as students work their way through a yoga flow. But when they close their eyes and breathe at the end, the students all seem to concentrate fully on DeBord’s questions. “What do we want to get out of our run today? Are there positive thoughts that made you happy today?” 

Once out on the track, there is a momentary distraction when one of the girls finds a salamander. Seventh grader Olivia Bergeron lets the tiny creature walk across her hands. With a camera focusing on the salamander, it looks up, bright-eyed and alert. “Look, he’s posing!” Bergeron says, delighted. A few girls take their new friend to the nearby grass so it won’t get injured, then jog over to the starting line to join the rest of the group.

Felton asks how many of them plan to walk today. A few hands go up. “Make sure you’re not just sauntering,” she reminds them. “Try to get your heart rate going.” 

Most of the class decides to combine running and walking, and a few students want to run the entire time. It’s not a competition, but rather about allowing students to be wherever they are on their personal fitness journeys and setting goals to improve from there. Felton reminds them to think about their goals as they walk or run. “Work toward those,” she says, “so that at the end of class, you can feel good about what you’ve accomplished.”

Felton started running cross country when she was about the same age as her students, and it has become a lifelong practice. “I really love running,” she said, “and I want to share that with these girls.” But she also wants them to know that it’s not an all-or-nothing commitment. “Sometimes I run, and sometimes I don’t. But I always feel better after I’ve gone for a run. And I want them to know what that’s like.”

It seems that the students are well on their way. When they joined Girls Run the World, each student set a personal goal. Seventh grader Ciana Latocki has run races before and says she wants to win one someday. 

Seventh grader Juniper Estrada wants to be able to run three miles so she can take part in the Turkey Trot, the annual fundraising run/walk benefiting the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation. 

So far, all of the girls are making progress toward their goals. “I did almost two miles today,” Estrada said with a smile. 

As Felton walks the track, she explains to a few students how running has helped her in her own life. “It has helped me with anxiety and stress. You can feel better about yourself.” And that really is the goal of the class, she says. “I want these girls to know how good it feels when you accomplish some running. I want them to feel good in their own skin.” 

Ridgefield School District refinances bonds, saving taxpayers $2.5 million - 09/22/22

Ridgefield School District has successfully taken advantage of current low bond interest rates to save taxpayers more than $2.5 million over the next 10 years. A sale of bonds authorized by the district’s Board of Directors will refinance bonds issued in 2012 that financed renovations and an expansion at Ridgefield High School and expansions at the district’s two elementary schools, Union Ridge and South Ridge elementary schools. The overall borrowing rate for the new bonds sold on September 20 is 3.08%, compared to the previous rate of 4.52%.

“This is a great opportunity to save our taxpayers a significant amount of money,” said Superintendent Dr. Nathan McCann. He emphasized that the anticipated savings will go directly to taxpayers through lower future tax collections. “This money will now stay in our community and local economy rather than pay interest on bonds.”

Although there has been substantial volatility in the bond market over the past couple of months, the interest rates on these types of bonds are still relatively low, which allowed the refinancing to exceed the board’s savings target, according to Paula McCoy, the District’s Executive Director of Business Services. “We have been monitoring the market closely over the past year to identify the best opportunity to refinance the district’s 2012 bonds. We are very happy to be able to provide significant savings to the district taxpayers,” McCoy said. 

As part of the sale, the district received a strong credit rating of “Aa3” from Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s noted the district’s voter support for operating levies among credit strengths, but also noted the recent bond measure failures “have the potential to escalate as a credit issue given the rapid student enrollment growth and facility needs.”

“This refinancing is one more way to demonstrate to our community our commitment to fiscal stewardship of the funds entrusted to us,” said Joe Vance, President of RSD’s Board of Directors.  “We want our community to know that we do everything we can to minimize the costs of our bonds.”


 

Tentative agreement reached, school is back in session on Monday, Sept. 19 - 09/18/22

The Ridgefield Education Association (REA) and Ridgefield School District (RSD) have come to a tentative agreement on a new teachers’ contract. The 2022-2023 school year will recommence with a regular attendance day at all district schools (including the Early Learning Center) on Monday, September 19. 


As part of the final negotiations, an amended academic calendar will be finalized and emailed to parents, as well as posted on our school and district websites. School closures caused by a strike are much like weather-related school closures, and those dates must be made up. Students will receive 180 days of quality instruction regardless of any delays to the school year. 

Bargaining update for Friday, Sept. 16 - 09/16/22

The Ridgefield School District has been actively engaged in bargaining with the Ridgefield Education Association (REA). The bargaining teams met on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and are scheduled to meet again beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 18. The district continues to approach each bargaining session in good faith and remains hopeful for resolution through established bargaining practices, under the direction of a state mediator from the Public Employment Relations Committee.

The district has offered a financial package that includes increases to base salaries for every teacher, as well as the full Implicit Price Deflator Index, or IPD (also known as COLA) from the state. IPD is money provided to the district for staff salaries and benefits. The district’s proposal includes a financial package that is regionally competitive, fiscally responsible, and sustainable for the district.

The district believes that it has reached agreement on the majority of the outstanding issues, including: 

  • Enhanced teacher salaries
  • A shortening of the salary scale by two years so teachers reach their maximum salaries more quickly
  • Reduced class sizes and caseloads for special education staff and programs
  • Increased overload pay
  • Increased stipends for extracurricular activities 
  • Increased staffing hours
  • Removal of AM/PM supervision time (giving that time back to teachers for additional classroom planning and preparation time)

The REA is currently asking for new language in their contract regarding changes to “regionalization.” Legislative funding allocations to a school district are based on regional differences, as determined by the state. 

Regionalization is stated as a factor, with 1.0 being the base allocation. Certain districts receive a higher allocation (with factors such as 1.06, 1.12, 1.18, or 1.24) from the state in recognition of the varying costs of living in different cities and regions. These factors are multiplied by the minimum allocation figures to determine how much revenue school districts receive from the state. More funding is received by school districts with higher regionalization factors. 

Consistent with RCW 28A.150.410, the regionalization factor for most school districts in Clark County, including Ridgefield, is 1.06 (Camas has a factor of 1.12). Beginning in 2023-24 (and every 4 years thereafter), regionalization factors must be reviewed and rebased by the state Legislature. This does not guarantee a change to a regionalization factor, but rather ensures a re-examination every 4 years. 

Regionalization is a new provision that came about as a result of the McCleary decision. Since the next school year (2023-24) will be the first time the Legislature re-examines regionalization, it is unclear if associated Legislative guidelines will change. With this in mind, the Ridgefield School District has proposed a contract reopener clause for salaries (Article 4, Section 15). This allows the REA and the RSD to exercise the reopener clause to discuss regionalization, should there be a change.  

Summaries and complete package proposals from the district are available on our website at https://www.ridgefieldsd.org/page/bargaining-update.

Ridgefield School District offers enhanced pay, improved working conditions - 09/14/22

The Ridgefield School District has been actively engaged in bargaining with the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) since June 2022. The district first requested to initiate bargaining in February 2022, but waited until REA leadership was available to come to the bargaining table. To date, the district and REA have participated in 20 negotiation sessions.

To help support the process of reaching a tentative agreement with REA, the parties agreed to request mediation from the Public Employees Relation Commission (PERC). The RSD and REA began negotiations with the mediator on Saturday, September 9. The district continues to approach each bargaining session in good faith and remains hopeful for resolution through established bargaining practices, under the direction of the PERC mediator.

Since August 29, the district has posted its complete package proposals and summaries, as well as a strike FAQ on its website at www.ridgefieldsd.org/page/bargaining-update. The district has offered a fair and sustainable financial package that includes the full Implicit Price Deflator Index, or IPD (also known as COLA) in accordance with Washington State law. 

The district’s financial offer includes the following enhancements:

  • Increased certificated staff base salaries by 6.5% in 2022-2023
  • Increased salary by at least 4.5% or IPD (whichever is higher) in 2023-2024
  • Increased salary by at least 3.0% or IPD (whichever is higher) 2024-2025
  • Increased TRI (Time, Responsibility, and Incentive) pay 2%
  • Compressed the salary schedule by 2 steps (teachers will max out on the salary scale two years sooner)
  • Salary schedule compressed laterally by 2 columns creating higher starting salary for beginning teachers
  • Increased extra-curricular stipends by 6.5%, 4.5%, and 3% over next 3 years
  • Increased extra-curricular assistants pay to 75%
  • Enhanced stipend for various positions (robotics, etc.)
  • Overload pay increased to $7, doubling to $14 at the 3rd student

For illustration purposes, see the table below which shows approximate salary increases (including TRI) for three different employee types, entry level, 10 years of service, and 20 years of service

School Year

BA 0

(0 years of service)

BA 90

(10 years of service)

MA 90

(20 years of service)

2021-2022$51,789 (0 years of service)$73,893 (10 years of service)$102,610 (20 years of service)
2022-2023$60,809 (1 year of service)$82,181 (11 years of service)$111,335 (21 years of service)
2023-2024$66,763 (2 years of service)$90,227 (12 years of service)$116,345 (22 years of service)
2024-2025$72,247 (3 years of service)$97,638 (13 years of service)$119,836 (23 years of service)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The district has a long history of fiscal responsibility, meeting the needs of both students and staff while planning for anticipated district needs and considering legislative and fiscal changes. The district utilizes transparent budget processes which are reflected in public presentations and demonstrated by the receipt of the State Auditor’s Financial Stewardship Award, a recognition granted to schools for meeting high standards for budget planning and public communication.

In addition to the financial enhancements being offered to help attract and retain highly-qualified and skilled educators, the district has also proposed many solutions to improve working conditions for our staff.

Proposed improvements to working conditions include:

  • Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, teachers would not be assigned to AM/PM supervision duties providing for more classroom planning and preparation time to enhance student achievement
  • Providing de-escalation training to promote a safer school environment
  • Lowered Special Education caseload for every Special Education professional
  • Increased compensation for every Special Education professional
  • Increased Special Education program staffing
  • Increased Special Education staffing hours

The district will continue to bargain in good faith with the REA and collaborate as negotiations continue with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable contract agreement. We look forward to continuing the school year once the teacher strike has concluded. 
 

Ridgefield School District makes updated offer to the teacher's union (REA) - 09/07/22

The Ridgefield School District and the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) have been negotiating for several months, exchanging many proposals in an attempt to resolve a successor collective bargaining agreement. The district and REA met in a bargaining session on Wednesday, September 7. 

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, September 8 at 4:30 p.m. The district is hopeful to reach a resolution. Should an agreement not be reached, the district will keep the community informed of the status of negotiations. 

We want our community to be aware of the current status of bargaining. You can review the district's proposals and a summary on our Bargaining Updates page at www.ridgefieldsd.org/page/bargaining-update. Please note that the most recent district proposal posted online includes portions of the REA’s most recent proposal within the document.

The district’s offer includes a minimum 8.5% wage increase in overall compensation to all employees for the current 2022-23 school year; a minimum 4.5% wage increase for the next school year (2023-24); and a minimum 3% wage increase for the following school year (2024-25). Additionally, eligible employees will receive an annual 2.5% step increase until reaching the top of the salary scale. 

Additionally, the district has a 20-year salary scale with each year of service equating to one step. Each step is valued at 2.5% more than the previous step. For school year 2023-2024, the district will adjust to a 19-year scale by removing the first step, resulting in all employees on the salary scale moving up by one step, for an additional 2.5% increase (unless already maximized on the salary scale).

Similarly, for school year 2024-2025, the district will adjust to an 18-year scale by again removing the first step, resulting in all employees on the salary scale moving up by one step, for an additional 2.5% increase (unless already maximized on the salary scale).

The district’s proposal represents an approximate 3-year compensation package of at least 16% with eligible employees seeing up to 28.5% increases. Funding for these proposals includes additional state revenue of 5.5% (the value of the State of Washington’s Implicit Price Deflator Index, or IPD) this year and projected increases of 2.0% and 2.1% in the following years.