From Bad to …Bad

KEA’s bargaining team met with district bargainers Tuesday and the outlook remains grim.

The good news – and that’s a charitable description – is that administrators pulled one of their most heinous suggestions off the table, officially ending their demand to roll back our already dismal salaries by paying us for seven fewer days. The bad news: the district is now demanding to freeze our pay while continuing to freeze or dismantle other contract provisions and ensuing administrators remain free to continue to increase our workload.

The district’s plan to cut pay was a non-starter at bargaining table and never would have been seriously entertained by our bargaining team. But administrators tried to frame Tuesday’s withdrawal of their proposal as a significant concession that should be rewarded by our acceptance of a slew of other bad proposals.

In exchange for the prize of a pay freeze, the district is insisting on a package deal that includes linking our evaluations to School Improvement Plans and student WASL scores. Additionally, the district rejected all major Association proposals related to Time, Workload, and Compensation. The district rejected limits on class size and case load. The district rejected limits on faculty meetings. The district rejected expansion of Early Release/Late Start. The district rejected clear layoff language. And the district rejected equal pay and national board recognition for our ESA members.

Even in withdrawing their salary rollback, we still manage to move backward. Instituting a pay freeze will lock Kent teachers in the cellar for area salaries. Even Tahoma will get a small raise next year, leaving Kent solidly in last place in compensation

Rejected, neglected but certainly not dejected

While the administration’s vocabulary was essentially limited to a single word — No — KEA bargaining team members were positively effusive. We explained research showing that class size is one of the few variables that districts can actually control to improve student learning. We reminded administrators that students are individuals who do not all have the same skills and needs, and that some students need more time and help. We shared research detailing how successful “professional learning communities” require an actual investment of employee time. Seemingly, if our proposal is good for students, the district’s answer Tuesday was no. If it is good for staff, the district’s answer was no. If our proposal costs money, the district’s answer was no. If our proposal could be adopted without cost, the district’s answer was … that’s right: No.

So what can we do?

Remind the district that our contract proposals grew from three years of listening to our members. Show unity at every opportunity and remind the district that KEA members are standing together to do what’s right. Most importantly, come to the KEA General Membership meeting at 5 p.m. June 15 at Kent-Meridian High School. We’ll provide a detailed assessment of where we’re at, and talk about the steps we’re willing to take to win a fair contract. The end of the school year is near, but our voice is being blatantly ignored in negotiations. We can give up, or we can stand up. Join us June 15 to decide the shape of our future.

Give your Building Reps a hand!

KEA reps are talking with all members to make sure we have current home e-mail address and phone numbers, and to do a quick pulse check of how you’re feeling about our current stalemate in negotiations. If your Building Reps haven’t yet contacted you, please find them so that our information is accurate.

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3 Responses to “From Bad to …Bad”

  1. Frustrated in Kent Says:

    It is sad that our district doesnt see what we do day in and day out to produce quality schools! It is time that our voices be heard, our actions be taken seriously and that things get done for us. If not now then WHEN? Never is a good time to regress! We must move forward!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Some people have a serious misconception about the public and the community in Kent. We have more supporters than we realize; who believe teachers are overworked and underpaid in the KSD.

    What do we tell our community members when teachers are asking for fair pay and better benefits? We tell them that KSD has about $19 million in the bank (the citizens’ of Kent, tax dollars). We tell them that that money should be used to retain and attract quality teachers to Kent. We tell them that KSD has 20 administrators making over $100,000/yr EACH.

    Don’t lay it on the teachers and the teachers of Kent, should not allow this to happen! Cast the blame where it truly belongs. You can fill in the blanks yourself.

  3. Proud of Our KEA Members Says:

    Hooray! Today’s rally generated an abundance of support from the community. We were standing on busy street corners holding signs, and the amount of citizens honking and waving our way, reinforced my commitment to continue spreading the word to the community, that KEA supports a quality education for their children.

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