"For those of you who know me, you know that I am a person and a leader who believes in working together to do the best we can to improve our schools and profession.
I, along with your IEA leadership believed that with the Supreme Court on our side, with state voters supporting a law to lower class sizes K through 12, and with a growing economic base, the State Legislature and Governor would step up and fully fund our public schools. Although we knew we would not get everything that we believe is needed, lawmakers’ proposals for school funding are more alarming and raise far greater concerns than we had anticipated.
On Sunday [April 26], the 105 day Legislative session ended. In that time, lawmakers demonstrated they are not interested in finding the way to fully fund public education. As they move into “overtime” this Wednesday, for a “special session” to finish the job, we need to be sure that you, the members, know what is at stake. To put it bluntly, many of their budget proposals would harm the members of the Issaquah Education Association. A review of the budget proposals shows:
- None meets the requirements set by the Supreme Court in the McCleary Decision.
- After 6 years of no State pay increases and no state COLA, the best proposal on the table is a 4.8% increase over two years. (Note: We lost 13% to inflation during those six years, and an 11.2% raise is being discussed for the Legislature this year);
- The Senate Republicans (Senate Bill 6109) propose to eliminate or limit the COLA;
- Almost all the proposals (House Democrats, Senate Republicans) limit our ability to bargain additional Time, Responsibility and Incentive pay (TRI pay), such as our ARC, tech stipends, etc.;
- One proposal would require working longer hours in the day and more days in the year for TRI pay. Under this plan, it appears our ARC compensation would not be allowed;
- The Senate Republicans propose a mandatory State salary schedule for all teachers and certificated staff, requiring negotiating with the State for pay increases;
- Some proposals eliminate the use of credits and degrees on the salary schedule, and create a new schedule with the highest lane reserved for staff with Professional /Continuing Certificates and National Board Certification. It appears this would require NBCT to renew every five years, to stay at the top of the salary schedule and avoid a cut in salary. (Currently, NBC teachers are paid a separate stipend; NBCT status, and retaining NBCT status, do not dictate placement on the salary schedule or overall compensation.)
- Almost all proposals cap local levies at 10%, which will limit our ability to bargain local dollars and make us more dependent on compensation increases coming only from the State.
- The Senate Republican and OSPI proposals want to eliminate our right to bargain health insurance at the local level. All school employees would be part of a state-run system, with insurance plans, rates and who is eligible for insurance all negotiated at the State level;
- The Senate proposal adds no more money to pay for our monthly insurance premiums – it continues funding our insurance at the same level that has been frozen since 2010-11;
Class Size, Staffing Levels & I-1351
- Not one of the budgets proposed by the Governor, Senate Republicans, or House Democrats fully funds I-1351 to reduce class sizes in all grades, K-12. All but one proposal limits class size reductions to grades K -3;
- The Senate Republican budget goes even further and eliminates the additional staffing support in high poverty schools for grades K-3, and sends the class size issue back to the voters;
- The best proposal phases in 1351 class size and staffing levels over the next 7 years (rather than over 4 years as provided in the law);
- Some proposals also limit a school district’s ability, with local funds, to lower class size or offer more staffing support than what the State deems is appropriate.
Test Scores and Evaluation
- Currently, none of the bills tie your students’ standardized test scores to your performance evaluation, however, many lawmakers support this policy and can be expected to raise it again as lawmakers hammer out the final details of a budget deal.
Levies and “Levy Swap”
- The “Levy Swap” concept is still alive in proposals in both houses. This “shell game” for funding education could mean we end up with “more state” funding yet “less money” for Issaquah schools. (Read the article by the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition about Senate Bill 6109; the link is below.)
- Washington Tax Fairness Coalition and their article about Senate Bill 6109: http://washingtontaxfairnesscoalition.org/latest-news/15-five-drawbacks-of-dammeier-senate-bill-6109-robbing-peter-to-pay-peter#
4,000 WEA members, administrators, parents, students, and other education supporters rallied in Olympia this past weekend. Almost 20 IEA members were there. We rallied to support full funding, and listened to the Governor tell us that 4.8% over 2 years is the best we might get. Today, I am coming to you to ask you, is that enough? Are you and your fellow members willing to accept that and the other budget proposals summarized here? Soon, they could become law. If not, what should we - together – do, to let lawmakers know these proposals are unacceptable?
President Issaquah Education Association"