Teachers and the Kent School District are no closer to resolving a dispute over salaries.
Christie Padilla, president of the Kent Education Association, said Tuesday that no progress has been made in negotiations between the teachers union and school district officials. The talks have necessitated mediation.
Which is worrisome for teachers who are hoping to open their classrooms to students on Aug. 30.
Kent teachers voted Aug. 14 to authorize a strike if the KEA’s bargaining team and school district cannot come to a tentative agreement on a new teacher salary schedule by Aug. 29, the day before school is set to start.
More than 700 of the KEA’s 1,500 members who attended the Aug. 14 meeting, with 97.2 percent voting in favor of a motion to authorize the KEA bargaining team to strike if an agreement is not reached before the first day of school.
“KEA intends to bargain every single day that the district will agree to meet with us,” Padilla said. “We absolutely do not want to strike. We need to keep the best teachers in the district because that’s what’s best for kids. Competitive salaries is one way to ensure we keep the best teachers.”
Kent teachers want better pay, more than an allowable 3.1 percent cost-of-living bump, but the district hasn’t offered more, union leaders said.
The school district is just one of many statewide districts renegotiating teacher salaries after the recent McCleary Supreme Court ruling guaranteed about $1 billion toward teacher wages. KEA members say that money is intended for teacher salaries, not bail out the district’s financial plight. The Kent School District ended the 2016-17 school year with a $5.6 million deficit.
The Kent Association of Paraeducators is holding a rally Wednesday outside the Kent School District Office, 12033 SE 256th St.
The rally runs 6 to 7 p.m., prior to the Kent School District board meeting.
Members and supporters are urged to wear red and participate as the union seeks better pay for paras. Members and supporters are asked to meet at the Valley View Christian Church parking lot, 25605 124th Ave. SE, Kent, for sign pickup.