We can sum up the bargaining process in one word. FRUSTRATING.
Last week, our update included a revised salary proposal, class size language, and school safety protocols. The district came back today with an ridiculous salary proposal, language that would increase our current class sizes, and nothing new regarding the safety of students and staff. All of this while KSD is sitting on a $50-million surplus, and a $7.5 million CARES Act stimulus from the federal government. KEA has been ready to bargain in good faith since May, and we are no closer now, than we were in May. KSD has openly admitted to a large ending fund balance, and a recognition that our salaries fall below our neighboring districts. In the end, KEA tried to come up with a creative salary package to make it easier on the district, and we were met with a regressive bargaining allegation, a retaliation accusation, and the threat of an unfair labor practice. To say that things are not going well, would be an understatement.
There is absolutely no urgency on the district's part to get a contract finalized by the beginning of the school year, but KEA will keep trying our best. Speaking of the beginning of the school year...
First Day of School
Some building principals sent out a message to their staff and school community that the first day of school is August 27. However, many people have looked on Board Docs and noticed that the first day of school is September 3rd. The discrepancy is due to KSD proposing a plan without bargaining the plan to completion. Consequently, the rumor mill is moving strong. Once something is finalized, we will send you an update. Everything on social media is just a rumor. The calendar is a mandatory subject of bargaining and eight KSD labor unions must have input. Feel free to email if you have any questions.
We have agreement that secondary schedules will be an A/B schedule, rather than three classes a quarter. That is good news for many of our math, science, AP, and yearbook classes. Elementary schedules are still being discussed. It appears that a remedy for split classes is being discussed. KEA suggested that Vice Principals take a class since they will not be dealing with discipline, but that idea was not well received by the district. Stay tuned.
Canvas appears to be the district's platform of choice. KSD has purchased the rights to Canvas for grades 7-12, but nothing has been purchased for elementary schools yet. KEA has learned that our neighboring districts, including Highline, is allowing elementary teachers to use SeeSaw. KEA has begged and pleaded with anyone who will listen at the district level to allow our elementary teachers this choice as well - especially since some of our principals offered the training to their staff. At this point, we are suggesting that anyone interested to please write to the school board. We can forward the letters written to us as well if you give us permission. I think that the school board is our only hope at this point.
Huge rumors are circulating around training. One thing that we do know is that our teachers need training to successfully implement a remote learning environment. There are discussions around 3 days, 5 days, or even more. So far, the only thing that has been agreed upon regarding training is that it will be paid.
We bargain again this Thursday. We sincerely hope that we have better news to share on Friday morning. The intent of this update was not meant to stress anyone out but to let you know that even though this situation has been frustrating, the KEA bargaining team is determined to push the district to get the best deal possible that will provide competitive compensation and a safe working environment for all.
Take care of yourselves and be safe. We will get through this together. Thank you for your support.