Negotiations between the Astoria School District and its classified employees – bus drivers, cooks, secretaries, etc. – started March 1. At its Wednesday meeting, the Astoria School Board finalized a three-year contract with them.

Superintendent Craig Hoppes said some of the more sticky points the parties had to work through included the language of layoff and recall, which he said the district has had to use quite a bit in recent history. He added that the language was a bit too general, so the parties had to work out specifics on how the practices work.

Another issue was summer employment opportunities and who has a right to those positions. Hoppes said the district does not have to hire people for summer work based on seniority. Otherwise, he added, it was one of the more pleasant negotiation sessions he’s been a part of.

Teachers have one year left on their contracts, at which point the district will start negotiating for a new one. Hoppes said Astoria has avoided some of the conflicts facing districts in the Willamette Valley by regularly communicating the district’s financial position.

In deference to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the district will also increase the price of paid lunches at its elementary schools by 10 cents starting next year to comply with the new equity in pricing requirements of the National School Lunch Program.

The act established $2.35 as the price for lunches. Currently, the district overall averages $2.18 for the price of a lunch. Raising the price of lunches at the elementary level to $2.15 – the elementary schools serve a significantly higher volume of the lunches – will increase its average price to comply with the law.

“What they’re saying is that since the National School Lunch Program is paying for the reduced (cost) and free lunch programs, we should be funding the paid school lunches,” said Louise Kallstrom, the district’s budget officer.

In other actions, the board:

• Officially approved Chad Madsen, a math instructor at Astoria High School, as the new vice principal, effective July 1.

• Accepted the resignations of special education instructor Sandra McCollum and instructional assistant Hannah Alley.

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