Letter: The Coupeville School board needs greater transparency

Editor,

Coupeville School District has an opportunity to set a new standard for teacher and support staff compensation, a fair and competitive standard. A standard that recognizes the role educators and support staff play in developing the youth of our community into contributing members of society.

How the school district handles the wage-bargaining process and the outcome of that process is a direct reflection of the priority and value they place on our children’s education and safety.

Greater transparency of the decision-making process of the school board as well as an effort to connect with the parents of Coupeville School District is needed. We’d like to see the board members active inside the boardroom as well as at school activities as a show of interest and commitment to the decisions they are making that effect our students.

My husband and I have two elementary-age children in the Coupeville School District. Greenbank is our forever home. We love Whidbey Island and how the community is so supportive.

As parents, we’d like to see the school district show an equal amount of support to teachers and support staff as the community does with the students. The McCleary Decision was a milestone for educational programs offered in Washington state, but it’s putting the cart before the horse if we don’t have quality teaching and support staff to lead them.

The need to attract and retain high quality educators and staff should be of primary importance. Offering wages on par with competing urban and suburban school districts should be a given. Our rural community does not have the amenities and conveniences of larger population centers to appeal to teaching applicants.

A competitive wage is how we can leverage for the best teachers and support staff to apply to our schools and retain our current amazing staff. Our teachers and support personnel deserve and have earned comparable and competitive wages to their urban peers.

We all want our kids to graduate as knowledgeable, compassionate, contributing members of the community. We recognize that teachers and school staff are one of the primary influencers in making that happen.

Sure, as parents, we try to foster a love for learning. But, here’s the reality: our kids spend over six hours on most days of the week in school, travelling to school or participating in school activities.

On those days, teaching and support staff spend more waking hours with our kids than we do! For this reason alone, we want our kids to have the best.

Our kids are young, and we’re still learning about the educational process. Our understanding is that the opportunity to set new pay and benefit standards could have been settled months ago.

Yet, here we are, with a new school year right around the corner, with no answers, poised to continue undervaluing our present teaching and support staff talent and not maximizing the school district’s ability to attract new candidates of the highest quality.

Why?

Sherry Phay,

Greenbank

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