Talks Continue, KEA Members Show Strength

Despite the fact that Friday was not a scheduled work day, over 1,300 KEA members, supporters, and their families converged on the Kent School District Administrative Offices from 11am – 1pm on Friday to show their collective strength and resolve during this difficult time.  Holding signs and waving at supporters in passing cars, they sent a powerful message to the District that they demand their voices be heard, and this strike be resolved at the bargaining table.  “I really want this thing to be over so I can get to work helping kids, but we can’t do that until the District realizes that our issues are important and must be addressed now,” said one teacher, “Let’s hope they get the message.”  This sentiment was expressed across the picket line Friday.

Talks continued Friday and Saturday between the KEA and KSD, but no major developments have occured thus far.  If no agreement is reached by noon Sunday, KEA will not be able to gather members together to vote on any tentative settlement.  As a result, school would not start on Monday as scheduled. 

In the event that the noon deadline passes without a tentative agreement, KEA members will gather at 8pm on Sunday evening at the ShoWare Center in Kent for a Candlelight Vigil.  KEA members and others who wish to show their support are asked to bring their own candles and carpool to the event.  (PLEASE NOTE THE LOCATION CHANGE TO ShoWare Center!) 

Additionally, KEA members will report to their regular work locations Monday morning to resume picketing if no agreement is reached.

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16 Responses to “Talks Continue, KEA Members Show Strength”

  1. ksdteachermom Says:

    I have mentioned this in earlier postings, as have a few others, but I feel strongly that having a “candlelight vigil” just is not appropriate for this type of gathering. I have been to too many vigils for students, teachers, friends, and relatives who have passed away. Please reconsider the title and the activity planned for this event. Thank you.

  2. Very Frustrated Says:

    I know this has been talked about in the last post but could we modify tomorrow away from the Candlelight Vigil? They are so often about a tragedy in regards to a death or act of violence it seems disrespectful to do it in regards to an unfair contract.

  3. Barbara Says:

    I just wanted to make mention that I too checked my class sizes on the “new and improved” KSD page. Mine are wrong. I think more teachers should be checking to prove the disparity. Mine were off by 2 in almost every period (in the districts favor). How can they publish these numbers and be proud of it. They are flat out lying! (again)…Maybe if Becky Hanks told me that was what I had in 3rd period last year, it would match all her other lies…but to actually send parents to the website? Just another slap in the face towards the hardworking teachers in Kent.

    • Check the fine print Says:

      The district pulled those numbers from the end of the semester. In their words, “We have chosen this period becuase it is generally a good measure of average student enrollment.”

      In my experience, my class sizes at the secondary level are at their very smallest at the end of the semester. By that point, many kids have realized they aren’t going to get the help and assistance they need to be successful and they have already thrown in the towel. Why bother staying enrolled if you’ve already failed?

      That the district would call this “generally a good measure” is a load of garbage. It doesn’t take a mathematician to tell you that the lowest number out of a set of numbers is a poor indicator of the average value of those numbers. This is just more smoke that the district is trying to blow up the public’s collective skirts.

      The district is content to reduce our kids to numbers that are averaged out across a teacher’s entire work load. But that ignores the fact that some kids require a lot more assistance and support than others. If you put a high needs student, or an ELL student, in an over-crowded classroom, they will not receive the kind of support they need to be successful.

      When will the district stop treating our students like numbers and start treating them like human beings? I’m sick of this district having it’s priorities in the wrong place! Kids first now!

    • teachers are not the enemy Says:

      I, too, actually had less kids than what the site says. Did they use the day many kids were gone for Take Your Kid to Work day??!!

  4. Tegar Says:

    Reducing class size by one student would cost the district $2.7 million. (Correction would cost the District taxpayer)
    Source: http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/KSD/CR/Budget/budget_negotiations/

    2009-2010 enrollment of 26,342 pupils and 1,687 teachers.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Tegar,

      Your posts are getting repetitive, and they are missing the point. Allow me to help you see the light.

      KEA is not asking for an increase in taxes of any sort during this bargain. The School Board, on the other hand, has been actively complaining that they don’t have enough money because Kent’s property tax lid isn’t as high as other districts. We are asking that the existing budget of KSD be spent on kids and their classrooms, not Administrators or their pet projects.

      Taxpayers should be angry that the District’s priorities are out of whack. Taxpayers should be angry that Kent’s teachers are the lowest paid in the Puget Sound Region, which means that when the economy improves, there will be a mass exodus of teachers from Kent. They should be angry that KSD Administrators are among the best paid in the region. They should be angry that the ratio of Administrators to teachers is lower than the ratio of Students to Teachers– as though teachers need more supervision than students. They should be angry that their tax money is being put in a District General Reserve Fund that is twice that of the KSD Board’s Policy, rather than being spent on kids and learning. They should be angry that their tax money is being spent on consultants, lawyers, and bargainers from outside the District when there are already over 20 Administrators making $100,000 or more whose jobs these consultants are doing. They should be angry that Kent spends over $400 less per student than comparable Districts. As a defender of the taxpayer, you should focus your anger, distrust, and energy on a District that has mismanaged your tax money and lost track of its primary mission: the education of the kids in the Kent community.

  5. Tegar Says:

    Kent largest Employer happens to be the Kent School District. It was once Boeing, but seven years ago, Boeing pulled 90% of its manufacturing out of South King County and moved those jobs overseas.

    Top 5 employers that support School Districts in their communties:

    Bellevue/Redmond – Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Coca-Cola, Bellevue Community College, Puget Sound Energy

    Renton – Renton College, Valley Medical Center, Kennworth/Paccar, The Federal Aviation Adminstration, and Boeing.

    Kent – Kent School District, REI, Oberto Sausage Co, Fed Ex, and Boeing

    Auburn – Muckleshoot Casino, Emerald Downs, Green River College, Comcast, Auburn Regional Medical Center

  6. Tegar Says:

    KEA,
    Check your facts, every dime the school disctrict gets comes from taxpayers. The District asked taxpayers to pay for maintenance/improvmeent bonds just a few years ago. Now KEA is asking for raises and smaller class sizes, these cost will raise the General Fund requirments, which intern will be passed to us Taxpayers to pay. I can guarantee that is what will happen.

    No, I am not anti-Union, Boeing built this community many years ago, and the Union did some good, but one negative thing that the Union did, is that when a strike was called by its membership for reason X, the Union would always seek to negoitiate X + pay raises. Union’s will always seek payraises if a strike is called. The problem with that, in Boeing’s case is that they drove up inflation in the South King County Area, and then seven years ago, they decided to move their manufacturing overseas, vacating 90% of their operation in South King County, leaving the KSD as the largest employer. And since the KSD does not generate money, it just spends money, that’s a problem. As far as spending money that was appropriated for Bond issue that passed a few years back by voters, that money barely covers the cost of repair and maintenance need for the Kent Schools, plus there would probably be some legal issues involved since Voters approve that money for that specific reason.

    Comparing the KSD to smaller school districts that have a higher wage employment infulstructure is not an accurate picture. Think about it, who are the major employers of Kent? KSD, Oberto Sausage Co., Maybe the Kent Boeing, Kent mainly has a bunch of small companies, that don’t pay high wages. Compare that with Auburn – Emerald Downs, Muckelshoot Casino, Green River College, Aburn Regional Medical Center, maybe Boeing. It would be more accurate if the KEA compared their wages with School Districts that are about the same size, such as Tacoma, Spokane, Lake Washington, Federal Way, Edmonds, Vancouver

    I will not argue the point that some of the High Schools are overcrowded, they are. But there is a cost for new teachers plus benefits, and new facilities that would be required for these teachers. But that is not the only issue on the board, now is it? No Wages increases are also there, all of which will require an increase in property taxes to inflate the general fund, at a time when there is high unemployment in the Kent Area, for that matter all across the country. And I can’t help but wonder if some of these students can’t be transferred over to other schools to try and even out the headcount?

    This Country is plagued with CEO’s, CFO’s, Administrators, etc. making 3 to 4 times that of what ordinary workers are making, its not right, and it is hurting this country, but what can you do? Most corporations are in the buisness of making money, but KSD is not. Every dime a KSD adminstrator makes, comes from the taxpayer. The biggest chunk in our property taxes go to the school district. If an Adminstrator is only making 100K a year that sound’s reasonable as the +25 year teachers are making 64K a year. The real question is, do they really need 20 Adminstrators?

  7. kmteacher Says:

    i agree that a candlelight vigil is inappropriate for this issue. no one has died. this is sad, and a mess, and unpleasant. it is not a tragedy.

    although i support the strike because the district has screwed up priorities, i do not trust the kea leadership either. i feel that both ksd and kea have been intransigent, stubborn, adversarial, and immature. both sides seem to be digging in their heels at the expense of teachers, students and parents.

    both sides need to stop being ego-driven and confrontational and COMPROMISE to get us back in school! PLEASE!!!!

  8. Concerned Says:

    As a parent and employee–I am discouraged. All I hear from the KEA leadership is snide remarks about the district negotiationg team and inflammatory statements about the Superintendent. I hear on the district side of things that they have made adjustments to their original proposal–which I can read online. I thought I heard that KEA had also made some adjustments to their proposal. What were those and where can we view the KEA bargaining proposal? I have attended several community events in the past three days and am not hearing a lot of support for teachers.

  9. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    As a parent that is “probably not aware….” I’m trying to understand the class size issue. I keep hearing that large class sizes are counterproductive, but how large is large? And what research is there that can be reference that shows what an ideal class size is and where the tipping point is? And is class size a systemic problem across all grade levels, k-12? Or is it more pronounced at certain grade levels, or even at one school vs another?
    Finally, lets say you succeed in winning the class size issue. How to you the resolution that being carried out? Say the district agrees to, oh I dunno, 25 student per class. Won’t the students in larger classes have to be put in NEW class rooms? If so, who do you see the physical problem being solved? And won’t that also mean additional teachers need to be hired, thus making a pay raise more problematic to resolve….because how will the district pay for it? They can’t go to the tax payer and say “higher taxes…….tomorrow! No I mean tomorrow literally”
    In short how do you see the class size issue being resolved to everyone’s satisfaction?

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      Hey, Jimmy, these are good questions. I don’t have any real answers for you, except to say that I think this is where the word, “compromise” comes into play. Whenever I go into a situation where I am negotiating for something I want, I usually go in asking for absolutely everything I want if I lived in a perfect world, and then I remain willing to compromise and come to agreement somewhere in the middle.

      Here’s what I think is reasonable, but I’m not an expert on the financial stuff, so please take this with a grain of salt. I think it would be reasonable to change the language in the contract to have specific class size goals, with a maximum number that can’t be exceeded. Several surrounding districts do this. For example, the cap for a high school class might be 30, not to exceed 33 (I’m making numbers up, but you get the idea). I think it’s reasonable to expect that it may take two to three years to get there. I would think that if we were to propose a relatively higher class size cap for year one, and then reduce the number down by 1 student every year with a set target (let’s say 2013 the caps reach the final goal) that this could be a goal that the district would be able to meet because it gives them time to work out some logistics like staffing and space. It doesn’t slam them with a huge reduction all at once, although we shouldn’t be naive and think that this wouldn’t be a major adjustment for the district even in the first year.

      I have to say that it may be that there may need to be a compromise on compensation in order to meet the class size issue first. Personally, I’m not on the picket line because of compensation. My response to poor pay is to look for a job in another district, and that’s what I will continue to do. I came very close to escaping this mess entirely this summer. Anyway, the compromise may have to be that teachers either forgo a cost of living adjustment or take such a small one that it would be basically meaningless. I don’t know. I’m sure there are some people at KEA that are peeing their pants that I would say that, but I think it is realistic. We can’t get everything we’re asking for unless the district is willing to overhaul the amount of money they spend on central administration. Do we really think they’re going to cut their own paychecks or jobs? Uh, no. They should, but they won’t. Unfortunately for the city of Kent, this district has gained the power to spend more than a quarter of it’s budget on administration, and you know they aren’t going to concede any of that power unless something major happens. In a perfect world, the teachers would win absolutely everything they’re asking for, which would force the district to redesign how it spends money and be more fiscally responsible. In reality, the people with the power will choose to stick it to someone that has less power rather than make major cuts at the top levels of administration. They are enjoying those cushy paid vacations and padded paychecks. I wish my vacations were paid!

      Reminder, this is not a KEA position, nor is it a strategy our bargaining team is using (actually, I have no idea what strategy they’re using). This is just what I would be willing to do if I were negotiating. I would probably hold firm on the class size issue and be willing to compromise somewhat on the compensation issue.

  10. Teacher Gal Says:

    The KEA proposal has finally been put on the KSD website alongside of their own proposal. A good way to see the differences. I especially appreciate the clear cut class size (by teacher!) proposal by KEA, as compared to the complicated formula (by school) in the KSD paperwork.

    The reports of inaccurate data contained in the class size listings are accurate. I expect that corrections will be made, I just wonder if the district will own up to errors or just make the corrections and see if anyone takes note?

    As far as salaries, those numbers are available for 2007 (latest available) from The NewsTribune.com at http://wwwb.thenewstribune.com/databases/state_pay/

    The HR negotiator made $132, 610 in the fall of 2007. Think that went down or up since then!?

  11. mytmel Says:

    kenteducationassociation,

    Why do you keep insisting you know what everyone SHOULD feel? Do you see how condescending you come across? Perhaps you SHOULD allow that some folks have an IQ above room temperature, have read up on both sides, and still disagree with this stirke.

    Maybe you SHOULD consider that what you folks are doing is contradictory to what you are saying. So many times I’ve read complaints, some on this very forum, about free & reduced lunch students causing extra work & how many more of those you’ve all had to handle in recent years. Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t one have to have low income to qualify for that? Isn’t there a logical nexus then – that if there are increasing numbers of folks in low-income situations – there will be a smaller $ base to pull from?

    As a Kent parent, I’m mad at the administration & I’m mad at you. Period. Both sides are screwing the kids right now along with all of the families who are unexpectedly up against more expenses than anticipated.

    Please spare me the “we are not your daycare” speach. I don’t have daycare age children anymore – so I don’t need to hear it.

    But you don’t seem to hear, or care, about the single mothers or other low-income families that reasonably expected their childcare costs to drop once school opeend – who are now struggling horribly – if not completely sunk – by the unexpected output. Marysville sunk me financially a few years ago, in the same situation, and the economy was BETTER than it is now. Don’t delude yourselves – you are not hurting the district nearly as much as the children you claim to care about.

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