Through its McCleary decision, the Washington State Supreme Court concluded that Washington state failed in its constitutionally mandated obligation to adequately fund K-12 education.
To ensure compliance, the state is providing around $1 billion to support raising teachers’ salaries throughout the state. This money is available now to be applied to increased salaries for our teachers for the school year 2018-19.
Legislators from the 38th legislative district in Snohomish County wrote to their constituents that, “Our most significant investment in 2018 was $1 billion additional dollars for public schools to fully fund (educator) salaries by the 2018-19 school year as ordered by the Supreme Court.”
Note that Washington state currently ranks 44th among the 50 states in its cost-of-living adjusted salaries for teachers, so such salary adjustments are long overdue.
I hope that the South Whidbey School District is planning on beginning the process of salary adjustment soon, so that our teachers and other K-12 staff can benefit from the increased funding as soon as possible.
Our teachers deserve higher salaries, in recognition of the critical role they play in educating our children, in recognition of the advanced degree required for teacher certification, and in support of the commitment and passion that makes our teachers great.
However, I have heard rumors that the South Whidbey and Coupeville school districts are considering delaying implementing increased salaries until the 2019-20 academic year, in effect, consigning our educators to yet another year of inadequate compensation.
The money is available; other school districts are actively working with the teacher’s union to negotiate new salary schedules, so I want to believe that our district is ready to negotiate with our teachers in good faith and with the intent of righting a wrong.
How insulting to our teachers to deny them the salary adjustment that Washington state and the state Supreme Court have determined to be both justified and legally required.
If we cannot support our teachers in this, then we are complicit in a system that gives lip service to the importance of teachers in our children’s lives but cannot pay them a living wage.
Parents and community members need to tell the school board and Superintendent Jo Moccia that our children’s education cannot be held hostage to whatever budget calculations are being used to justify postponing salary adjustments until next year.
Sarah P. Halsey