Letter to KEA Reporter

The following letter was published in the Saturday, Oct 31, 2009 edition of the Kent Reporter.  It was written by KEA Secretary-Treasurer Cindy Prescott, who is both a teacher and a taxpayer in the District.

October 26, 2009

To the Editor:

Last week, I attended the debate between the Kent mayoral candidates that this newspaper sponsored. Since Mr. Berrios is at the helm of the Kent School Board as its president, a question about the Kent teachers strike was asked. The question concerned whether there was a lack of transparency in the cancellation of a school board meeting during the strike. In response, Jim answered, paraphrasing, “I would answer that you just don’t know Jim Berrios.” He went on to detail conversations he had with teachers during the strike, inferring that he did his best to resolve the dispute quickly. Additionally, Mr. Berrios indicated that he has been “fiscally responsible” during his tenure on the school board.

As a teacher and a voter, I ask Mr. Berrios to think about how he could have used his position and influence to avoid this strike entirely, or at best, to resolve it well before almost three weeks had gone by. It is of some note that the Kent teachers have not gone on strike in thirty years. Furthermore, it is interesting to realize that Mr. Berrios’ “fiscal responsibility” has resulted in a district that has some of the highest class sizes in the Puget Sound (even after the new contract was negotiated) and has significant trouble retaining the very best and brightest teachers because pay is lower than in many surrounding districts (yes, even after the negotiations were finished.) Ending the year with a larger fund balance than the previous year, it would seem the Board’s spending priorities are suspect.

Recently, Mr. Berrios requested that Mayor Suzette Cook be more transparent in her budget figures. In my opinion, Mr. Berrios has been less than transparent, himself, in explaining to the citizens of Kent the part he played in causing teachers in this district to feel they had no recourse but to go on strike.

Cindy Prescott



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