MANASSAS, Va. (DC News Now) — At a Tuesday night school board meeting, Prince William County’s elected officials discussed the newly-unveiled draft collective bargaining resolution, which would allow teachers and other school workers to form a union.

Educators and advocates with the Prince William Education Association were pleased that two years after Virginia legislators voted to allow public employees to unionize, a proposal was in front of the school board. However, before a potential vote later this month, they hope for some clarifications and changes.

PWEA President Maggie Hansford said she hopes the board can figure a way to allow staff to unionize before the 2023-24 school year.

“What we would like to see is a pathway to be able to bargain next school year,” she said. “That means that we need to have a clear vision for how an election process can be handled and be completed this school year.”

The proposal presented to board members says that there are some constraints on collective bargaining due to state law. No resolution can “restrict the [school] board’s authority to establish budgets or appropriate funds” nor are employees allowed to strike. However, employees would be allowed to collectively bargain over wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

There would be two bargaining units: the first would consist of licensed staff including teachers, school counselors, and nurses. The second would include all other employees including bus drivers and teaching assistants.

Those not eligible to be part of collective bargaining include supervisors, human resources or finance employees, administrators, or temporary employees.

Discussions among school board members included questions about state law, and whether unionizing could solve — or at least help with — the teacher shortage.

Jerod Gay, a teacher in Prince William County Public Schools, says he supports the efforts because teachers have been getting less respect in recent years.

“I think teachers often don’t feel very respected when it comes to decisions that affect the conditions of our employment,” he said. “I think that we are seeing an unprecedented level of culture war conflicts surrounding education as a profession.”