August 30, 2016
- All certificated staff will meet to either vote on a settlement, vote to work without a contract, or strike.
August 31, 2016
- It’s the first day of school for K-12 students.
- Our teaching contract, our bargaining agreement ends.
It’s not the way to begin school. We have been bargaining since last winter. In our state, we have a statewide salary schedule, so we can’t really bargain for salary. Instead we bargain Time-Responsibility-Incentive (TRI) and we can ask the district to put money toward our health benefits (of which the state gives us $780 per month).
After interviewing almost every certificated teacher in preparation for the bargain, the team came up with these five areas:
- Our counseling and other special services need to be appropriately staffed and better supported so that our children are ready to learn.
*Students deserve access to a counselor. Currently, the student/counselor ratio does not allow counselors to support students one on one.
- More supports need to be provided for special needs children so we can adequately educate them in the classroom.
*Our special education students deserve sufficient teaching and paraprofessional staff to provide 1-1 help. Currently, EPS does not fund appropriate staffing levels and curriculum to ensure this happens. (SpEd programs & staff to help kids have been cut over the years rather than supported)
- The jobs we do must be more satisfying and less overwhelming for all our members as a result of this bargain.
*Students deserve to learn in classrooms that have up-to-date curriculum and supplies, no matter the zip code. Evergreen teachers need the basic materials, curriculum, and instructional time to teach our children.
- Create incentives to bring more substitute teachers to our District.
*Our students deserve access to librarians, music, PE, and the arts. Right now, students suffer as these specialists are pulled to cover sub shortages. The District must do everything possible to secure adequate substitute staffing. (This means ourstudents lose out on our curriculum)
- Evergreen Education Association Members need to be compensated at a rate commensurate with the TEN largest school Districts in the state of Washington. (We are the 4th largest district in the state)
*The District must do everything possible to maintain the best and brightest educators by paying competitive salaries and benefits, especially during this time of a teacher shortages.
I should be planning for the year and I feel hijacked by the bargain and all the activities that go along with putting pressure on the district to settle. Last week, I greeted both district and our bargainers as the entered the session on Thursday. On Friday, I held a sign and waved at cars on the corner of a busy intersection. Tonight I will be at the school board meeting with my sign, tomorrow and Thursday I will walk in with the other staff as a way to demonstrate solidarity. And on Friday, there will be more sign waving.
This is the second time in my career that the bargaining has been so intense. It happened in 1981.
Yep, that was me and it was in the local newspaper. That year, we fought for class loads. and the district locked us out.
Such a different time: no cell phones, no social media, and the only “live” coverage was that of the television stations. There wasn’t a letter to parents put on the web page on a Friday night that basically blamed the teachers for the lack of a settlement. The wasn’t someone posting on the district Facebook page a link that shows our salaries (granted it is public information but still…)
This weekend, I had to literally not look at Facebook and other social media. I felt so distracted by all the noise and chatter of our current bargain.
I hope that the pressure building in the community will bring about a settlement. It’s time to focus on the work for the year and not be watching a deadline loom.