The Kennewick School Board will keep teacher contract negotiations closed to the public.
A proposal to open them up died at Wednesday's school board meeting for lack of enough support to vote on the issue.
Watch for a full update in Friday's paper.
The idea of making negotiations public first was proposed at a school board meeting in June — and it was controversial.
Officials said it could make the collective bargaining process more transparent and help the public stay up to date on developments.
However, the district's teachers union said it's an anti-union tactic that would hamper the process.
Before Wednesday's board meeting, teachers rallied at the district office and then many attended the session to hear the discussion. About nine teachers and community members spoke up during public comment — all against opening up negotiations.
They said it would limit candor in the bargaining process and hurt trust, among other issues.
"This proposal comes from groups outside of this community, which are anti-public education, anti-teacher and anti-student," said Janet Bell, president of the Kennewick Education Association, which represents about 1,200 teachers and other certificated workers.
"(The union's) goal is to develop a long-term, respectful and collaborative relationship. I hope the board realizes it is the teachers and other educational employees that are the face of this district to parents and students. If you chose to take actions that damage the relationship with the people on the front lines, you risk damaging your relationship with students, families and the public," she said.
Board member Ben Messinger, who proposed the idea, said it didn't come from outside groups, but from him.
"I'm not the puppet of some third party. I didn't consult with anybody about this. I honestly believe in transparency," he said. "My strongest impetus for this was speaking to teachers telling me, 'Well, these are the facts,' and knowing those were not the facts."
Other board members said they considered the idea as a way to deal with misinformation about the district's actions and motives.
"It was in large part because we believe this information should be made public if there's going to be misinformation and falsehoods that are used as weapons in the process," said Heather Kintzley, board vice president.
But, they ultimately decided it wasn't the right path.
When Messinger made a motion Wednesday to open up bargaining, no one seconded it and it died for lack of support.
Messinger said he respects the board's decision, and also the opinions shared during the meeting.
Board members seemed hopeful moving forward.
After the discussion at the meeting, "I'm encouraged to believe there's movement in a good direction. I'm encouraged to believe that the relationship will withstand this test," Kintzley told the crowd.
The district and union are in the midst of negotiations over pay.
The existing three-year teacher contract doesn't end until 2019. But the state Legislature has allocated about $1 billion more for teacher pay as part of an overhaul of public education funding in Washington, and the Kennewick Education Association is advocating for a salary adjustment.
Kennewick Education Association leaders have said the district has the money to pay teachers more, but district officials have said it's not that simple — that while the district is getting more money for teacher pay, it's also losing money because of a state-mandated levy cap.