Why are we bargaining?
Community members may be wondering why the Kent School District is negotiating new salaries with its teachers after a two-year contract last year.
I am going into my fifth year at Lake Youngs Elementary (17th in education). In all my years in education, I have never been in a district that so poorly compensates its teachers. I work hard year-round to make sure that my students are getting the best education possible. Bargaining for fair compensation is incredibly important to me.
Negotiations are necessary because the Legislature just changed the way teachers get paid in 2017 and just this year increased the amount of money this year to meet the state Supreme Court’s mandate to fund education, including teacher’s salaries.
Other districts have already completed this process such as Leavenworth, which is giving teachers an 18 percent raise, while Lake Washington teachers will see a 15 percent raise and educators in Ocean Beach will see 21 percent bumps. Kent teachers haven’t received a raise since 2013 while districts all around us received raises last year.
With the new funding coming to the district, do taxpayers want the money to fund competitive salaries so we can keep great teachers, or do they want the money to go to administrative whims? If we do not end up with competitive salaries, we will lose many great teachers who will flock to other districts that will pay us what we’re worth.
For me, I will have to consider moving to another district. I have a son in daycare, where the price per week just increased by a considerable amount, and we need to make sure he is taken care of. We also live in Kent, and our property taxes just increased. In order to offset this cost, I need to bring in more money.
We are professionals and should be treated as such. Fair compensation will keep the great teachers we already have and attract more great ones from other districts. This will only serve to benefit our students! As my colleague says, we can’t put our students first, if we put our teachers last.
Investing in teachers is an investment in students. By paying them fairly, not only are taxpayers acknowledging their value to our children but to our society.
– Adrienne Adzanku