Bargaining Update July 22nd

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] []
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 6:29 AM
Subject: Bargaining Update July 22nd

Helping the district understand our priorities … again

Tuesday was another short day of bargaining, with the district’s team calling for a recess after only 90 minutes at the table to work on contract language they’ll present Wednesday.

“We don’t understand what your priorities are,” the district’s team complained.

In bargaining shorthand, our administration is suggesting, “We want teachers to start giving up some of the things you want, to start bargaining against yourself. Then we won’t even have to address many of your concerns.”

We’ve told the district again and again. We’re not giving up this year on what our teachers need. Our students have concerns that must be addressed. We’re hanging in there until their bargaining team truly listens and responds. We’re not giving up and going back to the old way, just because Supt. Saundra Hill chooses to ignore us.

So what are our priorities?

Our students. Our profession. Our lives.

What are our priorities?

Righting the wrong of our administration for reaching deep into the wallets of our community to take their tax money in the name of better schools — and then not using it for schools. Our priority is using that money — for our community’s students and teachers and classrooms — instead of deliberately wasting it in trumped-up reserve accounts to make it off-limits for our students’ needs.

Teachers hate to say our priority is money. We’re not in this profession to get rich or to be demanding. But we know we need to keep great teachers in Pasco, and we’re watching them leave in droves. We need enough hope for our future that we can afford to stay in here, and in teaching. We need curriculum, supplies and materials for our students. We need lower class sizes. We need adequate caseloads in special-ed and for counselors and specialists. We need work hours that allow us a bit of time off on nights and weekends to still see our families, which means we need more frontline teachers and paras to share the additional work. And yes, that costs money.

It’s obscene that our district sits on more than $30 million dollars and won’t spend it on our students, especially when administrators know the district will get more than $14 million in new money this year. It’s insulting that our bargaining team has repeatedly shared our members’ concerns and needs and frustrations — a list that is long and deep because we’ve made do for years by going without — and the district team’s reply is to say they don’t understand what we need.

What are Saundra Hill’s priorities? We can only guess based on her behavior. It appears Hill prefers to push our community into a strike instead of helping our students learn. It appears that hoarding tax money as a way to hang onto a personal sense of power is more important than helping teachers and students. It appears watching great teachers leave is less of an issue for Hill than offering professional wages, even when plenty of money is available.

What are our priorities? We want Pasco to once again be a district where we can be proud to work, and where we know our students get the best education we can give. We want an administration that sets aside its self-interest and excuses. We want a return to doing what’s right. We need an understanding when you ask our community for money for schools but refuse to spend it, that that leads us to believe that Saundra Hill is, at best, guilty of perpetuating a bait-and-switch on taxpayers, or at worst, orchestrating a financial fraud on our community.

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