Letter: Teachers deserve excellent, salaries, sustainable ones

Editor,

The South Whidbey School District is currently bargaining with its teachers. The school board is the fiscal agent of the district, and the superintendent is directed by the board.

The board directs bargaining and asked for administration to make sure that we bargain to ensure a sustainable future for the district.

This is crucial because our students depend on it. This has been the driver for the district. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has provided guidance indicating that districts must bargain an affordable and sustainable agreement.

We are all taxpayers, and all of our taxes have increased this past year. The budget revenue is made up of state dollars provided through the state allocation, which is based upon student enrollment and the “prototypical model” for staffing, and local levy dollars now meant for enrichment.

The McCleary lawsuit, which was settled in 2012, recognized that the state had a “paramount duty…to make ample provision for the education of all children….in the state of Washington.”

On June 7, 2018, the Supreme Court of Washington confirmed that the “legislature enacted measures to fully implement the new salary allocation model by the 2018-2019 school year.”

Allocation refers to how districts are funded, not how its teachers are provided a salary. We spent several weeks in June in public meetings outlining this information regarding why all of us are paying more property taxes for schools to the state, how schools are allocated funding and how the district budget is created. Please look at the website for detailed information on this, current bargaining and frequently asked questions (FAQs). www.sw.wednet.edu

The board takes its role very seriously and is working to prioritize teacher salary and also maintain a sustainable future. This could mean reprioritizing other uses of funding.

In recent years we have been improving programs for our students by adding to it.

A few examples include adding art back into the program, increasing music and the garden program, continuing outdoor education and adding it as an opportunity for all students at eighth grade.

We have reduced class sizes at K-3 and want to go lower.

We sought and adopted a K-12 math curriculum, a $200,000 investment in materials and training. The last time we adopted curriculum of any kind was in 2010. We are hoping to do the same with English/Language Arts this year. We increased our professional development funds to help train teachers. Last year, in particular, we added teachers to address the significant behavioral challenges some students are experiencing. If we had not allocated a fund balance (savings account), we would have been unable to address these needs. We also added administrative support to special education and the K-6 program.

We are proud of our program and our teachers and believe in what we are doing. Reprioritizing the way we use our dollars will impact if and how our programs move forward.

Our current two-year proposal provided in bargaining Aug. 21 prioritizes teacher salaries. Everything we do, from custodial improvements to curriculum comes from the same total budget.

We value our students and all of the staff who work tirelessly to educate them, transport them, feed them and keep them safe.

Our teachers deserve an excellent salary, one that is sustainable and affordable for our students. We believe we have provided this in the latest district proposal.

Dr. Jo Moccia, superintendent

Linda Racicot, board chairwoman

Langley

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