Archive for July, 2010

KEA Challenges Layoffs

July 22, 2010

The Kent Education Association has filed a grievance, asserting that the layoff of teachers and counselors was unnecessary and that it violated the contract between the union and the district. The contract allows the district to conduct a layoff only “by reason of financial necessity” (Article VII, Section 8.A.). The contract also states that the district is to minimize layoffs by reducing the General Fund balance, and through reductions in expenditures, and that they are not to reduce the levels of teachers beyond that which is necessary to remain within anticipated revenues.

The district is expected to end the 2009-10 school year with a General Fund balance of almost $22 million dollars, which is 8.3% of their total budget of $261.6M. The initial layoff in May included 24 KEA members, which would have created a savings of just $1.1M. The bulk of these educators have now been recalled, leaving just 6 people on layoff status from this year. Of these, some were only partially reduced, and the total remaining positions from the 2010 layoff is 4.6 FTE.

The teachers and counselors remaining on layoff could be restored to full employment for $299,000. That amount, less than one-third of a million dollars, is just 0.11% of the total district budget, and is only $59,000 more than Dr. Vargas’ annual compensation. Even so, the district is content to leave these people out in the cold, while the administration continues to sit on a huge rainy day fund. The district has not yet responded to KEA’s grievance.

Additionally, 4.4 FTE remain on layoff status from the 2009 layoffs. A grievance challenging that layoff is still going through the process, and a formal hearing will decide the matter this winter. One of the teachers who was laid off in 2009 was partially recalled to a 0.8 FTE position that June. Even though new teachers were soon hired in her subject area, the district “forgot” to first restore her to a full-time position. KEA recently became aware of that situation and was successful in having her placed in a full-time job for next year, and insisted that the district agree to pay her several thousand dollars in compensation for the salary and benefits she had wrongly been denied.

KEA believes that the district should stop making claims of a financial crisis when none exists. The Association believes that the administration should stop disrupting services to students through needless layoffs and the resulting transfers. Instead, the district should use the money entrusted to them by the taxpayers to invest in the education of the children of our community.