Bargaining Update July 28

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] [mailto:LUnseth@WashingtonEA.org]
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 12:16 PM
Subject: Bargaining Update July 28

What’s at stake?

Pasco’s teachers are in the midst of contentious contract negotiations that, depending on events, could potentially interrupt back-to-school plans this September. Here’s a look at what’s at stake:

Great teachers are leaving and not enough new teachers find our district an attractive place to work.

· Veteran educators and newcomers are leaving Pasco in droves. The reasons? Low pay, a lack of critical supplies and materials, a culture of distrust by administrators toward staff, and poor leadership or administrative blunders that force teachers too often work nights and weekends just to keep schools running. Combine that with constant flavor-of-the-month directives from out-of-touch administrators, and Pasco’s teachers are saying something must change.

Our administration has lost sight of what’s important: supporting teachers and helping students learn.

· The budget facts are clear: Educators are told to try to teach without enough basic supplies: white board markers, text books, curriculum, and computers, in part because district leaders tell the community they will spend millions of dollars more on teaching and teaching support that they actually do. Without the proper tools, we’re less successful as teachers, and our students suffer as a result.

· Too much testing is robbing us of our time to teach. Parents recognize that testing mania is popular among politicians and bureaucrats, but it hurts our students.

· While district leaders tell the community that the Pasco’s greatest spending growth will be for teaching and teaching support, in reality during the past five years, the greatest percentage growth in spending has been for even more administration, a 20 percent increase. Despite the growing ranks of bureaucrats, district leaders are failing in their basic duties, including not supplying basic curriculum in many classrooms, and failing to smoothly plan for new schools.

Hard-earned tax dollars are being squandered by an administration that seems unable or unwilling to manage our schools competently.

· District leaders continually argue that no money is available, but the reality is that district leaders are blocking tens of millions of dollars from ever reaching students.

· The $30+ million currently stashed away unspent is money that our local farmers, business owners, church congregations and parents paid in hard-earned taxes to provide quality schools.

· After criticism arose, Supt. Saundra Hill issued a memo explaining that at least $29 million would remain off-limits from helping students: Instead, Hill said her priority is to set aside multi-million reserves for topics as nebulous as an “encumbrance carryover,” “reserve for other carryover,” “interfund loan receivable,” and, despite that it’s now mid-2015, a $1.7 million “reserve for FY (fiscal year) 13-14 Net Rev./Exp./Transfers Out.”

What can you do?

Teachers work one-on-one with students every day, and see the problems that result from our district leaders’ misplaced priorities. Parents know to trust our opinions.

Spread the word by explaining to friends why these issues matter. Use social media, or quick chats in grocery store checkout lines, or in email letters-to-the-editor to the local paper. Put a “We Support Our Teachers!” sign in the window of your business, or car window. When asked, “What do teachers want?” Be clear: “We want kids in our community to get a great education!”

Most importantly, put Aug. 12 on your calendar. It’s critical that all PAE members attend our general membership meeting, 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at 1328 N. Road 28, in Pasco, the Steamfitters’ union hall. We’ll let you know whether a resolution is in sight, and discuss what next steps PAE members want to take, up to and including a possible strike if our contract issues remain unresolved. Please mark your calendars for this very important meeting.

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