Bargaining Suspended; KSD Can’t Justify Own Numbers

Following Monday’s vote by KEA members to remain on strike, both bargaining teams returned to the bargaining table for a marathon session from approximately 9:30 pm Monday night until 6:00 am Tuesday morning.  Additional proposals were shared, but KEA pointed out that the District’s most recent proposal was basically unchanged from their previous ones.  At that point, the mediator chossuggested that mediation be temporarily suspended until further notice.   Bargaining is on hold until either side is willing to provide a new proposal.  Thursday’s court hearing on the injunction order will probably influence the next move of both sides.  

Additionally, at about midnight, representatives from KEA’s bargaining team met with KSD’s Executive Director of Finance, John Knutsen, as well as the mediators.  During that meeting, Mike McNett from KEA presented a variety of spreadsheets related to KEA’s class size and caseload proposals.  Mr. McNett and the KEA team proceded to walk Mr. Knutson through their source data, calculations, and methodology to show how KEA’s class size and caseload proposals were created, and where KEA’s projections for the cost of these proposals came from.  Mr. Knutson, however, brought only a few papers to justify the claims made by KSD about how much these proposals will cost.  He was unable to provide any specifics about how KSD arrived at their cost and staffing calculations, nor could he outline the source of their data, their calculations, or their methodology as KEA had done.  It is the belief of the KEA Bargaining Team, therefore, that the numbers that the Kent School District has claimed in the press about the financial impact of KEA’s proposals are suspect at best, and fabricated at worst. 

Subsequently, KEA has sent a request for information to Dr. Vargas, John Knutson, and KSD’s Chief Bargainer, Dave Alfred, asking that they provide KEA with any documents that might justify their cost and staffing numbers.  KEA hopes that a further discussion of the numbers each side uses, and how they arrived at those numbers, may help to resolve the current impasse.  Unfortunately, the Kent School District has in the past frequently refused or has been slow to provide documents requested by KEA, despite the fact that it is legally obligated to make all District documents a matter of public record.  (This is one of the formal complaints in the Unfair Labor Practice that KEA has already filed against the District.  The ULP hearings will begin on September 21st.) 

We hope that KSD provides any documents related to their calculations in a timely manner as a show of good faith bargaining.  Hopefully this does not become yet another example of KSD dragging its feet in the hopes of delaying active and productive bargaining.


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93 Responses to “Bargaining Suspended; KSD Can’t Justify Own Numbers”

  1. question Says:

    so what does KEA’s proposal cost and what will be the reduction in class size it would accomplish?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Watch for articles on these issues in the next few days. Please keep in mind that bargaining is a fluid process and proposals may change rapidly.

      • non-essential staff Says:

        Please also keep in mind that the schools are not only a source of education. For many children the strike is costing them a well balanced breakfast and lunch. We are not only feeding the mind here folks.

  2. The Hammer Says:

    District credibility? This new information is actually what many of us have suspected all along. The fact that the bean counters at the KSD are having difficulty producing concrete evidence to support numerous claims relating to dollars and numbers further demonstrates their character, or lack thereof.

    District credibility? The Kent School District canceled the September 9 school board meeting without explanation on the very day of the meeting. Now, more than ever do we need to meet. Preventing people from voicing their concerns is counter-productive to finding a resolution. Transparency? No. Fear? Yes.

    District credibility? The biased robocalls have resurfaced. Supt. Vargas’ voice no longer graces the robocalls, but the message still remains one-sided. The basic gist of the message was that there would be no school until further notice, due to the continuation of the teacher strike. Yes, it is a true statement, but insinuates that teachers are causing the delay of school. During last Friday’s meetings with a select number of teachers and parents, Jim Berrios and Supt. Vargas appeared to be genuinely listening to the concerns and issues. Supt. Vargas even made a quick phone call to order the immediate removal of negative messages on the reader boards. Many were impressed by his quick and dramatic action. The latest robocall should have reflected this new understanding. It did not. How about this for an unbiased example? “The KSD and the KEA continue to work together to reach an agreement that will benefit all students. School is cancelled until further notice. Thank you for your support and patience.” Yes, that sounds fair and balanced, and it was easy to compose.

    District credibility? Becky Hanks’ comments on yesterday’s news alluded to the urgency for KEA union members to know the exact details of what is offered in order to make an informed decision. This was yet another attempt to chip away at the unity that has been our number one strength. If everybody continues to attend all meetings, show up for picket duty, check out rumors, and keep current on the KEA website, we will all be equipped with everything necessary to make an informed decision. We already know that KSD’s reality is much different than KEA’s.

    We must not allow the district to chip away at our unity. We’re stronger and smarter than that. We can’t go wrong if we subscribe to the idea of watching what they do vs. listening to what they say. We’ve come so far, let’s continue to fight the good fight and let’s stick together.

    • IP Advocate Says:

      District Credibility? Shortly after 4:00 today (9/9/09), KSD e- mail to staff from Larry Miner says that the buildings are open and that teachers who cross the line will receive “Special Projects” pay!!! What part of the budget does this money come from?? Is this the definition of a “Rainy Day” according to administration?? This seems like an unfair labor practice to me!! But, I’m guessing that it is just another old school strategy from the Strikebreaker’s Handbook and that L.M. did not come up with the idea through his own thinking. Actually, this is probably not a new and novel strategy…just another way to try to divide us and the empowerment we have as long as we remain united!!

      nothing new and novel

    • A Parent Says:

      It’s Hammer Time!!! Couldn’t agree with you more!!!

    • KentMom Says:

      “The basic gist of the message was that there would be no school until further notice, due to the continuation of the teacher strike. Yes, it is a true statement, but insinuates that teachers are causing the delay of school. ”

      I must be getting another message because I am not getting that insinuation at all. I’m getting an informative message without bias. Both sides, KSD and KEA, are delaying the start of school because neither side seems willing to compromise.

  3. Kent Citizen Says:

    Oh, that’s good. Bury the district in ULP filings and hearings. That will get school started soon.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      If they break the law and our contract, that is unfortunately one of the only avenues we have for redress of grievances. These ULP’s were filled last December. We offered the District mediation, but they refused, preferring instead to hire lawyers and fight us. This is symptomatic of the underlying problems that KEA is fighting to change.

      • JLR Says:

        And if your union breaks the law by ignoring the judge’s ruling, what avenue do we as taxpayers and parents in the district have for redress of grievances? Can I file a ULP against you?

      • concerned parent Says:

        Yeah, what JLR said. What is our redress of greivances? Oh, wait — students, parents and taxpayers are just screwed.

    • Carefully Weighing the Issues Says:

      You need to stop blaming or insinuating that teachers are the fall guy here. That “blame the victim” type of thinking is what fuels the fire of any bully (KSD) and prolongs this strike. We will continue to fight for justice, so the most helpful thing the community can do (and the most productive thing) is to attend S.Board meetings and demand that they meet with our bargainers to end this strike. The teachers are only asking for things that Auburn and other area districts offer their teachers. The compensation Kent teachers seek will only keep us in 80th place. Wow, what a nice thing for parents to brag about with their friends. Parents should be outraged that the people who touch their children’s lives are being painted with a scarlet letter, rather than listened to and respected for their professional wisdom. We know our jobs and we know what our students need!!! What’s that? An environment conducive to learning that does not have children sitting on the floor due to overcrowding (yes, this happens in some classrooms), that does not have students’ safety at risk because 39 students in a science lab are elbow to elbow with chemicals surrounding them as well as other hazardous materials.

      Stop fighting against us, fight with us and this shall be over and we will be back to teach your children!!

      • Another Kent Parent Says:

        I don’t blame teachers….I blame certain members of the district and I blame your union leaders. My grandfather was a mediator for most of his life, he worked for unions. I understand why Unions exist, don’t always agree with them, but understand what their need was. Personally, I would never want to give a union the power they have over your career. In my opinion it is like giving power of attorney over your job, I wouldn’t give anyone that.

        The district, while they are in for the kids are also a business. That is why they are called administrators. They handle the business portion of education. Business/Workers…same battles. The little guy always feels that the big man up in the office is scheming to make his life miserable. I’ve heard more nasty, unneccesary comments about Dr. Vargas, comments about his salary, comments about where his kids went to school, comments about the kind of car he drives, one man even tried to bring in reasoning that Vargas makes more than the Vice-President (Which is true to a point — gentleman must not realize that the VP has many expense accounts not associated with his annual salary). None of these arguments helps solve this strike, and to be honest when we start complaining about his salary while stating that it’s not about the money, my brain says hogwash. It’s all about the money. I wrote to the district….I asked them to offer smaller class sizes in exchange for the 4.5 salary increase and to see if the Union accepted it. Doubt they will do that, because they know that parents are getting angry and blame is starting to shift to teachers, I also requested that over the next two contracts they try and budget to give teachers a salary increase, while keeping classrooms smaller. I also encouraged them to continue with the lawsuit against the state to have more funding for education so that they have a greater ability to fund our teachers salaries to the level they deserve, while offering our children small class sizes. I will try and support my childrens teachers…as every year my children form a bond with their teacher and grow to love them, they are helping me to form them into the best people we can. But, the name calling really needs to stop, it’s childish, it accomplishes nothing, and it is beneath an educator…after all I remember my second grade teacher telling me if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  4. non-essential staff Says:

    As a para who works directly with students I am doing my best to be supportive of the teachers I work with and respect. I am not going to discuss the bills I will be unable to pay this month, I wish I got strike pay and when I drive by teachers out waving and smiling it does annoy me, last week the kids and I saw teachers at Sawyer Woods bowling in front of the school. That did not go over big with parents or kids.
    What I really want to post is:
    Eventually I will be working again and hopefully we can become a “family” again.
    I am beginning to hear comments from parents about “can’t we just fire the teachers”, “holding my child hostage”, “what is it they want anyway?”. I am doing my best to not engage as when we get back to work any resentment I could build up will affect my work with the children and teachers. I am also hearing children say things like “I don’t want to do my chores, I am going to strike”. This is getting ugly folks, please do not assume the hundred or so folks who show up at GR are what the parents are really feeling out there. Animosity is building towards teachers and distrust toward the district, as someone who works in the classroom I know how important parent support is to a teacher…the district could care less about distrust. Please lets get these kids back in school before our relationship with the parents and each other is damaged more than it is.

    • Justice Says:

      As the “non essential staff” you ARE essential. You can be just as bulllied as the rest of us. I know, because I’ve heard that sentiment from other “non essential staff”.

      You understand what teachers are up against? Then, join them and help end this strike. If you are riding the fence, you are helping the District to stonewall.

      Teachers cannot help what children are saying with their parents at home about chores. That’s a parent’s raise their own children, so let’s not lay that at a teacher’s doorstep or conscience, okay?

      You get unemployment checks and should file soon. WE do not get unemployment. Your comments could be construed as divisive. If you worked in my building, I would certainly take the time to educate you further.

    • kent teacher Says:

      Since you are a para and in the classroom with kids I am shocked and disappointed by your comments. I am sorry that you are having trouble paying your bills and just to set the record straight….we DO NOT get strike pay. We also have bills and are worried about how everything will turn out. I am very frustrated by all of the blame for the school delay being placed on the teachers. The Kent School District is the one stalling, cancelling board meetings, locking parents out, putting false statements and outdated information on their website and refusing to bargin with KEA in good faith. As for kids saying they want to “go on strike” because they don’t want to do chores…whatever! I am quite sure that when parents hear that, they are smart enough to know how to talk to their own kids. I am wondering about what kind of educator you are that you have not allowed yourself to be informed. As a part of your school “family” you should know without a doubt how painful and sad this is for your teachers. This is not fun for anyone and if you really cared about “what they want anyway” you would ask them. What we want is reasonable class sizes so that we can actually teach…hey what a concept! Just fire us? great…you really are out of touch and I sure hope you are not part of my school family.

      • non-essential staff Says:

        Perhaps if you read my post again you will see that I am not against the teachers. Of course I see the overcrowding. I actually CHOOSE to work in a school that is struggling. Oviously it was poorly worded because the attacks on my post were a surprise.

        MY teachers that I work with know me for my commitment to the students, my respect and support for their teaching goals and my commitment to my school. I feel comfortable in saying the teachers I work with are glad to have me in their classes. Again, I love working with the kids, respect my teachers and am perhaps the most dependable Para you ever met. Please do not twist that around. This posting issue is an example of what I am concerned about.

        Example of the support for the teachers; trying to explain what the teachers are trying to accomplish. To various people who know I work for the school district I tell them “the teachers want what is best for your children”, I ask them “who is your child’s teacher and do you trust that person?”, “would that person take advantage of you?” I also point out the deviousness of the district and all the calls they are getting, how the parents were blindsided by saying that school will start on the 9th when all of us knew that was not very likely.

        Believe me I DO support the teachers. But I also have a growing concern about the lack of information you are putting out about what you/we want as opposed to the robot-calls from the district that are able to reach every household in the district.

        As far as the parents teaching the children what is right…not all parents are created equal. Some are that explaining you are working for a better education for them; some are saying you are breaking the law.
        I also am curious what you plan on telling the children when they come back, hopefully to your smaller classroom. I am concerned about parent support. We know the parent that decides to get back at US by not giving little Johnny his medication before school as payback for all the $ he/she had to dole out for extra daycare. Many parents think of teachers as baby sitters. That is the mentality out there also. I just really want the teachers to be planning how to deal with possible fall out, that will affect ALL of us who work in the schools when we go back…hopefully to smaller classes, less meetings and more respect. Hmmm, even for other peoples opinions maybe.

        Good luck in your school, again I hope it isn’t mine as from your tone you may think of Para educators as “non-essential”, but If you are a teacher in my school and I am your Para educator you can count on me to be an asset to your class and do the very best for you and the children when we go back.

    • Resolute Says:

      Just to clarify, we are not getting strike pay and while we will work the 180 days if this goes on much longer we won’t be paid for that time until we eventually work those days.

    • Mom Irate with the District Says:

      I would certainly hope the district would care about distrust. They can be fired (or recalled) too, you know!

    • teachersarenottheenemy Says:

      Teachers do not get strike pay.
      Have you applied for unemployment? I know it isn’t a whole paycheck, but at least it’s some money coming in. I know of a few Paraeducators who are collecting unemployment.

    • veryconflicted Says:

      I just would like to clarify – teacher’s are NOT receiving “strike pay.” We risk not paying bills very soon as a result of all this, too.

    • teacher ad parent Says:

      The teachers do not get strike pay.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        No strike pay? Well, then. Let the bowling and partying continue. Carry on.

        I agree with “non-essential”…the amount of community support the KEA “thinks” they have is not even close to being reality. The KEA screwed themselves of future support.

        Oh! And any future bonds or levies? Kiss those goodbye. Way to shoot yourself in the foot.

        The first order of business to save your organization if any credibility is to fire your union rep. She appears to be incompetent.

      • teacher Says:

        Jimmy…jimmy…I see your posts all over the blog, I am so glad you are getting your monthly internet fee’s worth of entertainment. You seem intent on ridiculing and belittling anyone with whom you don’t agree.
        Do you have children in the district? Do you even LIVE in Kent?
        The union rep doesn’t need to be fired for credibility, the numbers speak for themselves. She has nothing to do with the fact that this is an issue of employees who are extremely tired of being bullied and lied to by their employer, plain and simple.
        Bonds and levies rarely, if ever, end up in the pocket of the teacher. So not passing them would be shooting the kids’ feet, so to speak.
        Think up another argument.

    • teacher Says:

      non-essential staff ARE essential. You are just as important as the teachers are. We all have our roles to play in student’s lives.

    • GuestTeacher Says:

      Not a single person in a school building is “non-essential.” I have seen the work you do in the special ed and ELL students both in the general education class as push-in support and as pull out support. Paras are vital to the success of our students.

  5. Grandma Sherry Says:

    What time is the court hearing on Thursday? Another good time for concerned citizens to show support for the KEA.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      1 pm. Please be respectful and understand that it is not necessarily a good forum for you to express your opinions on this issue. We’d rather everyone put their focus on Mr. Berrios and the School Board and Dr. Vargas.

      • Grandma Sherry Says:

        I have wrote several emails to Dr. Vargas and Mr. Berrios as well as the other members of the school board. Dr. Vargas (or someone from his office ) has replied but his replies were not directed to the questions that I had asked. I have not heard from any of the school board members.

        I read in your blog that some are getting tired of the strike and are encouraging the teachers to get back in the classroom. I too want my grandson to go back to school but I want what is best for his education. He is going into the 5th grade and I can’t emphaize enough the importance of quality as well as quantity time he needs with his teacher. If he should have a problem understanding an assignment, I want him to be able to go to his teacher and have one on one. This can’t be done if the teacher is in OVERLOAD status. Whether it is from too many students, too little time or meetings, the teachers need to be available to the students and parents when the need arises. I was educated in the Kent Schools as was my daughter and I have never been more proud of our teachers as I am now. I wish I could do more than write letters even though they don’t get answered.

      • teacher Says:


  6. frustrated Says:

    Why why why would bargaining be suspended until after the court hearing? What a waste of precious time. It drives me crazy to think that NOTHING is happening today or tomorrow.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      From what I understand, this happens when one side isn’t moving much, to try to get them to break the impasse. Guess which side is stalling? Last night, one member of the KSD’s Bargaining Team even sent a letter to the PTSA of the school he is principal at in which he claimed that he believed that the injunction penalties would force teachers to accept a settlement and come back to work. They would rather stall than bargain. Plain and simple.

      • Kent Citizen Says:

        Are you claiming that the KSD hasn’t moved much? Please provide evidence of where the KEA has moved (besides the ridiculous 10% pay increase request) off of their initial stance. Negotiations are a two-way street – where are you willing to compromise to get this settled?

    • KSDParent Says:

      Well, I decided to look at the proposals given the cease in negotiations to see if both sides are making strides. While the district hasn’t budged a lot, KEA is actually dropping their numbers the longer negotiation goes on. No wonder we are getting nowhere! You can’t keep asking for more because then you will never actually meet in the middle! Please correct me if I’m wrong: In an older KSD proposal, overload status was 26, 29, 149 and 159 in K-3, 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12 respectively. KSD’s proposed cap was 31, 34, 160 and 170 in that same order. KEA’s proposal was overload at 24, 29, 145 and 155 with caps at 29, 34, 160 and 170. Now as of 9/7, the current overload numbers from KSD are 26, 29, 149 and 159 and caps are 29, 32, 160 and 170. KEA’s current overload numbers are 24, 28, 145 and 155 and caps at 28, 31, 155 and 165. I know, my head is spinning too!

      • Another Parent Says:

        Correct me I’m wrong, teachers, but from what I understand, the biggest issue in KSD’s proposals is that they contain language that invalidates the stated targets and caps under certain budgetary conditions. Because several of those invalidating conditions are expected for the duration of the contract, it means that any numbers offered are merely smoke and mirrors. This is the “poison pill” clause.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Bearing in mind that specific contract language is constantly changing as bargaining occurs, I can tell you what the District’s proposals as of Tuesday said.

        The short answer to your question is that you are basically right about the poison pill clause, but there’s more to it than that. Add to that the fact that the District refuses to accept any language that would require them to resolve over crowded classrooms. Instead, they offer a long, drawn out bureaucratic process to request relief, with no provisions to hold Administrators accountable for actually solving the problem. Additionally, the District believes that placing an Instructional Assistant in an overcrowded classroom for a brief time is a solution that is more satisfactory than having a cap on classes. An additional body in an overcrowded classroom is, in general, not a solution. What is a solution is redistributing students to classrooms that are less crowded, adding additional sections of a course, or hiring more teachers.

      • KSDParent Says:

        They are not proposing an IA in lieu of a cap. They are proposing an IA when a class hits overload status, just like the KEA contract proposes. But, a major difference is that the KEA contract also gives the teacher the option of choosing the IA or geting paid $10 this year and $15 next year to the teacher every day. How is that considered a solution? I don’t mind you stating that the District’s solution of an IA is less than satisfactory, but how about seeing some creative solutions suggested by the teachers? How about taking that $10-$15 daily incentive/fine and putting it towards additional buildings or teachers instead of diminishing its effectiveness by spreading into a bunch of different pockets. I just don’t see anything being offered by the KEA that makes any true difference in class size.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        You are referring to the District’s posting of a proposal from almost two weeks ago. The pay option you outline for overcrowded classes was dropped over a week ago by KEA. This is why we keep saying that you have to be careful about what you are seeing posted on the District website. They are not able to post every proposal on the table and keep it current because bargaining is a fluid process. We are very reluctant to post specific contract language here or on because of that fact. We have posted our latest proposal at today because we believe it represents the most compromise we are willing to accept from our original position at this point.

      • Question Says:

        To KEA:
        Today on the Kent Web site is a proposal dated 09/11/2009. It is new as of today. Do you know when KEA received this one? Can you give me any information about it?

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I’m not sure. I’ll try to find out. I’m not in the office today.

      • PLU 92 Says:

        I got the pay option idea in writing just last Thursday (Sept 10th!) in a flyer (not very well done in my opinion) from a teacher asking me to support teachers. I did NOT get that info from the district. Do your teachers even know what is going on? The are handing out the wrong information…

  7. Proud to be in Teacher's Union Says:

    The Seattle Times ran an editorial in the Wed., Sept. 9th paper. I am going to have to cancel my subscription. If their coverage of this issue throughout this strike is an indication of how other issues are covered, then I know I am not getting factual coverage from my newspaper. Here is my response to the Times:

    “Where is MY newspaper? Who on the editorial board is best friends with the KSD administration, school board or superintendent? Why will our newspaper not really try to get the facts out to the public?

    Why have you inserted just part of the facts, leaving out most of the information about that topic? It completely changes things to tell the public only pieces of information.

    On the Tuesday after Labor Day, you wrote this editorial….when most schools are just starting the year. Have the Kent students really been harmed by starting school after Labor Day? The students will get all of their school days- just not on the dates of the original calendar. Please place the blame on KSD also, not just teachers, since KSD has not tried to bargain in good faith since last April!

    Of course, in bargaining, the teachers’ team asked for more than they expected to get—the 10%. That leaves room for compromise. You left out the fact that Kent teachers have the lowest wages in the area! You have not seen the accounting because KSD is not making that public to anyone and cannot support their claims about their spending.

    How do you POSSIBLY know that the district negotiators have done the math correctly? Why are you not mentioning the KSD surplus–they are making a profit each year instead of spending taxpaper money on the students. The district has the highest salaries for administrators but the lowest for teachers AND the largest class sizes allowed for students!

    Why have you left out the fact that other districts have found ways to pay teachers better and also have caps on class sizes for kids? Why should Kent students suffer and why do you expect the teachers to stand by and allow it to happen?”

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Seattle Times’ editorial board is notoriously anti-union and anti-public education.

      • what is wrong with you Says:

        this is your opinion. as you said in an earlier post:
        1 pm. Please be respectful and understand that it is not necessarily a good forum for you to express your opinions on this issue. We’d rather everyone put their focus on Mr. Berrios and the School Board and Dr. Vargas.

        Please keep your opinions to yourself and give us the facts.

      • JLR Says:

        kenteducationassociation –
        You are kidding me…The Seattle Times is anti-public education! That is the most ignorant statement I’ve seen from your union! Better have the KEA spin doctors take another look at that.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        What Seattle Times have you been reading? “anti-union” and “anti-public education”??? Don’t just read the comics in the paper. Read the whole thing. This is a paper that is pretty much straight ticket endorsers of any Democratic candidate. I hardly think then, that they would be anti-union or ant-public education.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        What is printed througout the rest of the paper is different from the editorial board, which has consistently written articles in recent years attacking teachers and the teachers union with many of the same arguments that you have been making, my friend.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Links, please

    • Got Tape? Says:

      Thank you!

    • concerned parent Says:

      Oh, for crying out loud! A newspaper doesn’t support your side — and you’re breaking the law here, remember that little fact? — and it’s automatically “anti-public education” and “anti-union”? You are clueless. I know of what I speak, and that paper falls into neither of the above categories. The editorial you mentioned said that teachers should obey the court order because it is sending kids the wrong message. Actually, that’s not Earth-shattering; it’s just a fact. My child’s friends have gotten together and decieded that if they don’t like what a teacher says, they’re going to defy that teacher. Way to go, KEA! You’ve built yourself a house of cards.

  8. fairwoodelementaryparent Says:

    “We hope that the KEA and its members” will soon see the writing on the wall and get back to work. In this economy, your decision to hold out for pay increases and “smaller class sizes”, and your subsequent decision to hold our children’s education hostage has damaged your credibility for years and years to come. Your too blinded by your own self-righteous anger to see it though…

    • tammy2shoes Says:

      Would you say this about Martin Luther King Jr.? Did Martin Luther King Jr. damage his credibility? He also defied a judge’s order and stood up for what he believed in.
      Sometimes the law does not dictate what is right….

    • Split/Combo Grade Reality Says:

      I’m saddened to hear your feelings. There is NEVER a good time to strike. We were backed into a corner to strike since the district refused to bargain in good faith. The district has consistently, since last spring, not taken us seriously on negotiating a contract- one that will allow us to improve your child’s education: lowered class/case load size, more time to plan for our students instead of spending our time in needless meetings, and yes, increased pay to keep great teachers and attract quality ones- we are the 4th largest district but pay our administrators the highest, teachers are among the lowest paid, and we have the highest class sizes!).
      Our goal with this strike is to leave a legacy for your child: An enriched, quality educational experience. One that offers at least the same as neighboring districts. When this strike is over, your child will still receive 180 days of school and our hope is he/she will learn that without his teachers standing up for him, he’d be stuck in a class of 33 or more students, have a frequently missing teacher who has to attend a meeting, and/or see a great teacher leave for another district that valued child centered priorities more than Kent.

    • Mom Irate with the District Says:

      I don’t want the teachers to get back to work until they’ve achieved what they’re fighting for–the future of our children. Make no mistake, these issues are affecting the classrooms across our district now and will for years to come unless something is done about them. The teachers are the only ones standing up for our children. We need to support them and put pressure on THE DISTRICT to get this resolved. Why should my friend in Bonney Lake get to have her son in a kindergarten class of 21 while my child will have to be in a class of 29? Why should her son’s teachers be paid thousands more than the teachers of my son? Why would the good teachers stay here in Kent to put up with this? The answer is they won’t.

      Yes, be angry. But be angry at the ridiculous bureaucracy that has caused this mess. Then, make sure you vote!

    • fairwoodelementaryteacher Says:

      Teachers are NOT holding your child’s education hostage. Your child will be provided with every one of the 180 school days that have made up EVERY other school year.

      In this economy there is NO WAY we would have gone on strike soley for a pay increase.

      Have you been to the school to volunteer lately? Have you seen how some classes are very full? Is it okay with you that your child will not get all of the benefits of a high quality education because his/her teacher is trying to teach a large class with many different needs and several new curriculum programs?

      I am a teacher, not a super hero. I am a pretty good teacher with 31 students, but I am an excellent teacher with 23. The fact is, KSD has the money to support lower class size.

      If smaller districts, like Auburn, can have lower caps on class size and spend tax payer dollars on the kids (like is expected) instead of the administration, then so can KSD!

      That’s what we are holding out for…a higher quality education for your children and mine. So, does expecting my taxes to provide our children with the best education possible make me self- righteous??? Not in my book.

      • J Says:

        Parents ARE being held hostage. Yes, the kids will get their 180 days, well into summer. Our district already seems to get out the latest of any district I know, including most other states. Parents are being held hostage because we have no say in the outcome. You decide how long to battle and we pay the price for it, in terms of lost vacation and summer.

    • FWTeacher Says:

      Just so you know, if the class size numbers don’t pass, our current configuration of 5th and 6th grade classes at Fairwood WILL change. Instead of five classes of about 25 each, we most likely will have two 5th grade classes and two 6th grade classes.

      I don’t know if you have a sixth-grader this year, however, if the district changes the configuration to 4 classes instead of 5, come the October 1st count, the 6th grade will have 34 students in each class.

      We’ve been lucky at Fairwood. For the most part, our class sizes have been reasonable. We haven’t had to deal with a lot of split classes. Just becuase we haven’t had very many class size issues at Fairwood doesn’t mean that we are immune from these problems.

      Every single teacher at Fairwood knows how blessed we are to have a supportive and involved parent community. But we cannot forget we are part of the larger Kent community either. I am not just taking a stand for Fairwood, but for the kindergarten at Panther Lake that has 31 children, or the Geometry class at KR that has 40 kids and 3 of the students didn’t even have a desk, much less any chance to get the individual attention they needed from a teacher.

      Going on strike and defying the court injunction was not an easy decision for any of us. We would all rather be back in the classrooms, doing what we love to do: TEACH. Your children will still get their 180 days of education this year. With smaller classes we will be able to provide more quality and individual attention.

  9. Mother of two in Kent Says:

    Obviously the Kent School District needs to take a look at the facts. I believe the teachers have every right to strike without a signed contract.
    Yes, we are in a recession but the District needs a wake up call.
    It’s not fair to our kids to have teachers overloaded with work. Not to mention juggling the diverse ethnic backgrounds. How can a teacher be effective at their job with overloaded class rooms and kids who need help with the English language.

    The Kent School District needs to take their blinders off and see how close they are to an agreement. Please listen to our teachers, after all they are in the battle fields.

  10. Lola Says:

    Enough already, can you explain to me how badmouthing the district that employs all of your members is conducive to settling a dispute? Why don’t you quit spending so much time and energy spreading false information and get your members back to work where they belong. The longer this goes on, the more damage is done. How many classified employees are going to lose their paychecks and benefits? Do you even know? How many parents are losing pay or having to quit their jobs because they can’t afford daycare? Do you even know? Easy for Mr. McNett to sit in his comfy chair pulling in over 100K a year and dictate to you the teachers what is right for you…think about it, you are puppets on a string, and you are doing exactly what he wants you to do, what district will it be next year?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Reporting how the District is avoiding bargaining or negotiating in bad faith, how they are unable to justify their numbers, how they are abusive to staff in this District and have carried that over to the bargaining table, how they have broken both the contract and state and federal labor law, etc. is badmouthing the District? What information you see here is false? What is your proof? Mike McNett is doing his job– he is defending the current contract language and bargaining for an improvement to our wages, salaries, and working conditions. He is the leader of a bargaining team made up of teachers, but he is not their boss. Your fantasies about how things are working are just that, fantasies.

      • Lola Says:

        Fantasies? Come on really. I work in a building where the union rep started pushing for a strike at the beginning of last year. This has been building for an entire year. You leave stuff on my front porch telling me that the district has only agreed to 17 items so far. If they weren’t important to you then why were they there in the first place? You are now in a desparate situation to try to get public support for a blatant disrespect of the law. If the students were first on your agenda, the students would be in school while the contract was being worked on. Funny thing too that the athletes are still continuing to practice and have their events. We wouldn’t want the coaches egos to suffer the embarrasement of not being able to compete now would we?!

      • KSD Grad Says:

        Mike McNett is pulling a large salary to “represent” you. Whether or not you are willing to admit it, and just because there are teachers on the bargaining team doesn’t mean you are all well represented. Each and every teacher needs to see the black and white details of the proposal in order to make an informed decision. KEA accuses us parent of getting angry when we “don’t know all the facts” but yet you all are taking the word of the team. Without reading the proposals for yourselves, do you know all the facts. I would bet that if teachers were willing to see these proposals, the support percentage would drop.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I read the most recent proposals by the District and KEA today, as a matter of fact. They contained precisely what Mr. McNett and the bargaining team has been saying. By the time we were to post them on this blog or another website, they will almost immediately become outdated as new proposals are traded back and forth.

        I am tired of these insinuations about Mike McNett and his character from people who know nothing about him. Mr. McNett is a former band teacher from Oregon who got into union work because of his belief that the union can and should protect teachers’ rights and because he believes it is the best way for teachers to improve public education. Mr. McNett works an unbelievable number of hours during the school year in an attempt to enforce the contract and protect members’ rights to due process under the contract and the law. He routinely answers emails or phone calls at all hours of the day or night to help members with their issues, questions, or concerns. He is widely regarded throughout the nation as an expert on many aspects of labor organizing and relations, and has even taught classes and seminars to other unions around the country on these issues. He has done more in the past two years (over 60 grievances for District violations of the contract) than his predecessor did in 10. Through his efforts, the District has begun to follow the contract and respect our rights– which it never did before Mike came along. Now Mr. McNett is working almost 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week to find a solution to this crisis. Those of us that know Mike well would take a bullet for him, and know he would do the same for us. His character is beyond reproach. You can continue to insinuate about Mike out of ignorance, but people in the know understand that Mike is the best weapon we have against the unchecked power and tyranny of the KSD.

      • JLR Says:

        Wait a second kenteducationassociation…where are your numbers regarding how much your proposals will cost? Are they really changing that often that you can’t post them on your web site?

  11. AngryParent Says:

    Please just go back to work. You need to hire a new PR lady because you can’t get your facts straight. The KSD has openly posted their proposals yet you refuse to post your requests. You need to figure it out before you are all replaced by teachers willing to work.

  12. what is wrong with you Says:

    Comment deleted for violation of blog policy against personal attacks and name callling. Your cute spelling of people’s names is not going to be tolerated. If you want to engage in a respectful critique and discussion, I will be happy to post your comments.

  13. what is wrong with you Says:

    Comment deleted for violation of blog policy against personal attacks and name callling.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    It just baffles me how the KSD continues to look like the good guy and the teachers continue to be thought of as the side that is delaying school. Yes, the district has posted their proposals, but I guess unless you work for the district or have family members that work for the district, it is so easy to see the vagueness in the district’s proposals. They are SO not for kids! The teachers are the true crusaders for the students. I am getting so frustrated with the parents that just “want kids back in school!” Do you really just want them off your backs and in school despite the poor learning conditions they will continue to endure if the teachers back down under the rude and hurtful comments? Teachers do know WHAT IS BEST for KIDS within the school setting. Many of the parents “badmouthing” the teachers often do nothing more than drop their kids off at the school door and pick them up after school expecting their children to be educated, safe, and happy. It is getting harder and harder to do this with the conditions that the KSD is allowing. I respect those parents supporting the teachers. They know that this short-term inconvenience will have tremendous long-term results. Giving in now only ensures the status quo.

  15. ticked parent Says:

    you talk about the bad behavior of the district/board…how about the teachers who are jeering and flipping people off when no support is shown?
    What is THAT teaching our kids?
    Go back to work, there is no support from this family at all!

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      If this behavior that you describe is happening on one of our picket lines, KEA wants to know where and when. We will not tolerate this type of behavior on the picket lines, no matter how frustrated or upset people are.

  16. Long time Parent volunteer Says:

    To the Para who calls him/herself “non-essential staff”:

    The teachers and other staff truly wish there was relief for the paras and other staff who are not working at this time. They talk about you often. It has been the understanding that you are all eligible for unemployment pay and that your union has let you know about that possible means to help you a little.

    The teachers do not get strike pay of any kind. The teachers are not smiling because they are glad to be out of school—ALL would rather be in the classroom with the students. They might be smiling because they are pleased to be working together with the other teachers and staff to try for real solutions for their students and, for many of them, their own children. They are possibly smiling because of the many parents who continue to bring food and messages of support. They might be smiling because they are staying united. They know that is the only way to fight against the bullies in administration who don’t think they need to listen to the concerns of teachers and other staff.

    But mostly, the teachers are probably smiling because they are trying to make the best of a situation they didn’t want in the first place. The teachers wanted to district to make some reasonable changes during bargaining and to make it before school started. The teachers are trying to stay strong in spite of desparately wanting to be back to work and in spite of realizing that the district does not care about the students enough to help ensure that a solution is reached quickly.

    The district appears to think that the teachers and their concerns are not worthy of respect. The only way to get back in school is going to be for the district to truly know that the teachers will not just give in and forget that the students of KSD deserve more.

    Math whizzes have worked on the numbers and can’t come up with the figures that KSD has invented. Para, please believe that the money is available to the district and that they simply need to know that they must use it where it belongs: on the students and on those who work directly with them—you and the teachers!

    And thanks to Mike McNett for doing a tough job and doing it well. It appears that he is a reasonable, well spoken leader asking for reasonable solutions from a district which appears unwilling to be reasonable or fair or respectful of their employees.

  17. Confused about class size?? Says:

    Since KSD posted an extensive database as proof that they have already lowered class sizes, then why are they so hesitant to put it in the contract?

    • teachersarenottheenemy Says:

      THe reason KSD is reluctant to put class size language in the contract is because the class numbers the KSD posted are not all accurate. My class was off by 2 kids. Many others were off by 2-3 students…one by 5.
      Somehow, the district has “lost” several children. HMMM….I am sure the district rec’d funding for those “lost kids”.

  18. irritatedparent Says:

    Seriously both sides are acting childish and selfish and the only ones being hurt are the kids losing their education. You may think you can make this up but it will be tough. My kids go see their father on their breaks and now they won’t be able to do that with the year all messed up, we already have plane tickets purchased. I took a $300 a week pay cut this year I don’t have the money to throw away on the change ticket charges. The Para above that posted can’t even pay her bills. How about you start giving her some help. Give a raise to all the other KSD employees you are keeping from earning their pay.

    What if it floods this winter like is being said in the news? That will cancel school even more. As soon is school is out it will be time to start again. I don’t care what you say this is hurting the kids and it makes me sick.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Kids are losing their education? Will you join me this year in protest when my students take a week off of school to visit Disneyland, and want me to provide homework so they can keep up? How about if they travel to a foreign country for a month in the middle of school? Will you stand with me and say, “Please don’t go during the school year, you will miss things you cannot duplicate with make up work.” Those actions hurt kids, but nobody ever seems to complain to the parents that allow their kids to miss 30 or more days in a 90 day semester. Instead, those parents attack teachers when their child earns an “F”. Soon after, businesses complain to school districts that employees entering the work force are often late or abuse the use of sick leave.

      This is a thankless job. We must be on strike for a significant and meaningful reason, don’t you think?

      We feel for other KSD employees, but we also know that the strength of our contract will determine the strength of theirs. Even Adminsitrators will benefit, as their contract includes “me, too” clauses that mean that when teachers get a raise in Kent, so do they.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        kenteducationassociation, when I choose to take MY child out for ANYTHING I danq well please, I have done, and continue to do everything you suggest. I know my example is anecdotal and not a benchmark, but nevertheless, you rant falls on deaf ears for me.

        Now when the school year ends up extending past the 4th of July, will you explain to my kid why his summer was shortened by weeks Why he didn’t get to that camp he wanted to attend? I’m sure then he hears the teachers were just like MLK and “fought against an ‘injustice'”, he will feel much better that he helped….er….I mean..that he contributed to the…..uh…hmmmm…what exactly is he supposed to feel good about?

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        How do the administrators benefit from a “me too” lower class size? Afterall, we keep hearing it’s “not about the money”, so how are all these other people going to benefit if the issue is class size?

        Will the KEA forego a raise to pay for lower class sizes? I’ve not heard them being willing to do that. So, if you do, what “me too” benefit is there?

      • Another Kent Parent Says:

        I have to agree with Hoffa on this one. Teachers get personal days…why then should you be the only ones that get these. Why should parents never get to take theirs. Why do you get to take a day here and there, but we should only be allowed to take our kids out when there is a break….I seem to remember something in the contract about you being allowed more personal days.

        My brother is getting married next week, in AZ. I had no control over the date of his wedding, are you suggesting that my children and I not attend his wedding because it coincides with school, family comes first and unfortunately it looks like my kids will miss their first day of school while we are in AZ attending the wedding (Then again with the current bargaining trend….we may make it back in time)… kids had plenty of subs last year, how is that not disruptive to their learning. Please don’t lecture parents about taking their kids out of school. We have jobs and lives too….and unfortunatley many of us don’t get the amount of vacation time that the schools do. We have to take it when our job allows, my husband has not had a vacation in over a year, because of his job demands…so this is not a great topic to get into an argument over. He also works 12 to 13 hour days and many weekends and holidays. He doesn’t have a union to scream and yell for him when he feels he’s being treated unfairly. They keep firing/laying off people so he’s working twice as hard to keep his job. So when the time is right for him to take a vacation…we will and I’ll be damned if someone is going to critize my decision to pull my kids out of school for it. Not to mention kids need personal days too!

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        No, you have the right to take your kids out when you wish. The point I was making was that this argument that kids are irrepairably damaged by missing a total of 8 days of school when other schools have not even started makes this argument ridiculous. We have the right to take two days of personal leave each year, and can carry one over to the following year if it goes unused. This is not uncommon in many professions outside of teaching. If you don’t have this benefit, perhaps you should join a union to get this for yourself.

      • Lech Walesa Says:

        Hey! How ’bout that? And in Arizona some districts go year round. What’s your point? My kids don’t go to those other districts that start later. What those other districts do is irrelevant to KSD. Stop deflecting and stay on point.

      • PLU 92 Says:

        Well said “Another kent parent”! Please let’s get back to school. So-called adults, grow up and get an agreement done…

  19. Bawbert Says:

    King 5 just reported that KSD has announced that our benefits will be cut off as of September 15 if we don’t go back to work… Can they do that? Just an example of more bullying

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      You currently don’t have a contact. Why should they pay benefits to people who are not under contract…and on top of that…not working!!!!

    • Kent Citizen Says:

      It’s not bullying. It’s law. If you are not in paid status, your benefits run out at the end of the month. True for everyone, not just teachers. You could always sign up for COBRA.

  20. genie Says:

    WHat is the current reserve of the district as a % of their total budget? What does KEA think is a reasonable reserve? why does it matter since stripping the reserve is a short term remedy?

    What is the anticipated total operating revenues of KSD? How much of that does KSD propose spending based on their last offer? what is KEA proposal? What % of last year’s operating budget was payroll and all HR expenses? What portion of that is certficated teachers?

    IF the basic equation is how much each teacher is paid multiplied by number of teachers why isn’t it a matter of just deciding how much you want to be paid versus how small you want the class size? I realize that specialists, non-employee costs, non-teachers, and to a lesser extent admin affect the total revenues available, but is it that much? What would the KEA like to have? No specialists, no admin, no sports? How much would that raise as a % of certificated total payroll expenses?

    What does the average teacher cost the district in total? Is being the lowest in the area, if true, a reason for striking? By definition someone has to be lowest, right?

    what practices would you suggest KSD AND KEA could have and should now implement to avoid what is a painful and difficult situation for all concerned?

    i am frustrated by all the analysis about “we’re happy with the pay, we just don’t like the class size” as if those two were not hand in hand in determining your total costs. I mean, both sides have to face teh reality that there is only so much money right? And if revenues are down, hand the state has given a genereous COLA (but does not fund it for M&O staff), how could KSD afford to give even more of a raise AND lower class size. DOes not seem to make sense. What am I missing? I know that school budgeting is complex so there must be many things I am in fact missing.

    Finally, if I drop my kid off to join the picket line, can I go to work and pick them up around 3? I’ll leave my cell phone number so you can call me if they start deploying tear gas, rubber bullets, etc. “Hey you might want to come get Johnny. This field trip’s getting hairy.”


    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      I can’t answer all these questions in a comment response, but you raise some great points that we will do our best to answer here and on as soon as possible. We will try to have as much financial and contract proposal data up in the next few days as we can. Hopefully that will cover most of what you are looking for. It’s really hard to gather reams of data and present it in a way that stands alone for the layman to read without explanation, so I hope you understand that not everthing can be answered to your full satisfaction because KEA’s resources are already stretched pretty thin.

      If you want to see the latest budget numbers from KSD, remember that they are public record. You can check their own budget reports here:

      You’ll see that they are consistently spending less than they are budgeting, which is how their reserve fund balance has grown so high. If you are wondering why the July and August numbers aren’t posted yet, join the club………

  21. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    “6:00 am in the morning”???? as opposed to..6:00 pm in the morning?

  22. The Hammer Says:

    Oh, Irritated parent, you say this strike is “hurting the kids?” I have read your blog several times and have yet to find any reasons (not personal) why this strike is truly hurting the kids. You say your kids cannot visit their father in the summer, you already bought the plane tickets, you don’t have the money to make changes on the tickets, you took a $300 pay cut, the kids will be losing their education (they will still get their 180 days), there might be a flood, paras won’t get paid, and as soon as school ends it will be time to start again. Where’s the beef? Furthermore, your suggestion to pay the paras more money stymies me. I am waiting for some tangible examples to support your claim. Let’s see, maybe you can start with lowering class size and more teacher time with students. I’m just saying.

  23. J Says:

    What does “Thursday’s court hearing on the injunction ” mean? I haven’t been able to find out what this is about. Is there a second injunction?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      When the District’s lawyer, Chuck Lind, filed the initial injunction, he forgot to include any specific remedy (meaning penalties that would be imposed if we defied the strike.) Today’s hearing, therefore, will allow him to suggest penalties. At that point, the judge will order fines, jail time, or provide another penalty for us refusing to comply with the injunction order.

  24. fairwoodelementaryparent Says:


    You should only be so lucky to have parents who put in as many volunteer days per year as my wife and I put in. That may drop after this fiasco, certainly for me. I’m tired of the belly-aching. I’m doing the jobs of three people at my company right now and for about 20% less pay than I made last year. And I don’t want to hear about class sizes at Fairwood because in three years my son hasn’t seen a class over 27, one as few as 20 students, and there is almost always 1, sometimes 2 volunteers per day.

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