AUGUST 20, 2018

Competitive, living wages for Seattle educators!

With new state funds and a healthy reserve to offset levy losses, Seattle Public Schools can afford significant wage increases to keep us competitive and to make progress toward a living wage in this incredibly high cost city.

School starts in just over two weeks. So far the District would like us to focus simply on what they declare to be their "surplus." That's not going to get the job done.

To get a fair contract done, SPS is going to have to subject its budget to deeper scrutiny. This took far longer in 2015 than it should have, and we ended up on strike. We're looking for the new school board and superintendent to provide different leadership.

With the new state funding, departments all across SPS put in their requests for greater funding earlier this year, and many were granted. But now those need to be re-evaluated and re-purposed in order to ensure competitive and living wages for educators.

How does our certificated salary schedule compare to Bellevue and Lake Washington?
Together with the District, we are doing detailed comparison of the Lake Washington and Bellevue salary schedules with our Seattle schedule. Our salary schedules have different columns ("lanes") with different degree and credit requirements, and our schedules have different steps, too.

New teachers in Bellevue will make 4% more than the current Seattle schedule in 2018-19. Veteran Bellevue teachers will make about 10% more at the top. Bellevue's schedule lagged in the middle years, so some mid-schedule teachers in Bellevue received 20% raises.

Lake Washington's schedule only has 4 lanes (perhaps the least in the state), and just as with Bellevue, Lake Washington is further ahead of Seattle in the middle than at the beginning (8%) or the top (10%).


Some Districts outside King County are getting some large raises!

Yes, that's exactly what we would expect under the state's new funding formula. Rural districts generally were not collecting levy money, or at least not much. The new state funding formula takes property tax money away from Seattle and other high levy Districts (like Tacoma and Everett) and sends it other places. Bainbridge Island (ranking 211 out of the state's 295 districts in school funding previously) got a huge raise, but even with that raise only matches where Seattle was last school year.

Equitable raises for classified and certificated staff.

Our bargaining team members, both certificated and classified, have repeatedly reminded the District that as expensive as Seattle is for certificated staff, it is even more expensive for classified staff. Members around the District have indicated they support higher raises for classified than certificated.

That's actually what we did in our last contract. Due to state law, certificated raises have always been calculated as a percentage of your base. But base has shrunk to only 60% of a cert's salary, so a 4.5% raise on your base is about 3% of your total salary. Raises for classified, on the other hand, have always been on your whole salary.

Things are changing now because of new state rules. Future raises for certificated staff will be applied to what is likely to be a larger base, closer to 80-90% of total salary. A percentage raise that is equal will still favor classified staff, but by a lesser amount.

Our schools work best when we have a full team of quality educators. None of us can be there for our students if we don't have a living wage that allows us to care for our families.

The levy lid is going down. What does that mean for Seattle?

We had one of the highest levy amounts in the state: SPS could raise 37% of its budget from local voters, while most other Districts were limited to 28%. But starting in January, we can only raise 24% of our budget from local voters, the same as every other District. That drops levy funding from $4000 per student to $2500.

We have a school levy to pass in February. We will need to help make sure that passes with high voter support to send a message to legislators that voters want to put more money into our schools. The legislative session will be short, so once that levy passes, we need to pressure Olympia in a huge way to lift the 24% levy lid.


What about all the new state funding for salaries?

The state increased the amount of money it is sending to Districts for salaries - nearly 40%. That's what the McCleary decision required. But our salaries don't only come from state dollars, and the part that isn't coming from state dollars is dropping (the levy). Previously the state has only been paying about 60% of certificated salaries and about 50% of classified salaries. The rest is from levy. Some Districts around the state had only been using state money to pay staff - and staff in many of those District are getting some big raises. But they are still paid less than we are because our salaries - cert and classified - are higher than what is funded by the state.

So, state money is up, but levy money is down...where do we end up?

Well, fortunately, we are up, but less than other Districts in King and Snohomish Counties. As we have reported here in the Unity several times, District revenues are up about 15% this year, and then go down 3.7% next year. Additionally, the District's ending fund balance (money unspent at end of year) looks like it will pass 12% this year, far more than it needs to hold in reserve.

Safer, more effective Special Education.

There is considerable support from both teams for increased parapro training, more compensation for writing IEPs, better pay for ASL interpreters, less pulling away of special ed IAs to supervise general ed, and more professional development in general. Although the District believes our ratios are much better (i.e. expensive) than other Districts, it has not proposed changing our ratios. On the other hand, they are also reluctant to improve them. We believe that the continuum resource room is a place where additional IA investment would be paid back through reducing more restrictive placements.

Supporting substitutes and addressing the shortage.

Again, lots of common ground on improving training, especially for parapro subs who often come in with little experience. Both teams also see the value in letting hiring teams bring forward successful substitutes to apply for jobs. While the District has indicated openness to getting subs into long term benefitted positions more readily, we are concerned that many subs will still not be able to access District healthcare. Likewise, the new sick leave law has led to improvements for our substitutes, but they still accumulate sick leave more slowly than regular staff.

Paraprofessional and Office Professional (SAEOP) training and mentoring.

There is strong support from both teams for investing in onboarding and mentoring. We are also working on ways to boost incentives to pursue professional development, such as through the SAEOP Professional Standards Program. While the intention of the Parapro PD credit program was to provide a similar incentive, it is simply too much work (64 credits every year) for too little money ($3 per day). Only 100 Parapros - less than 10% of paras overall - qualify each year for the credit.

Support the whole child and engaging families.

We've had a lot of discussion about the need for more counseling, nursing, family engagement, ESA services, and library access for students. We expect and are seeing some progress in this area. Getting full time positions into all elementary schools is beyond the scope of the funding available if we are prioritizing competitive, living wages, but progress can be made.

Professional Growth and Accountability.

In 2015 we proposed an Evaluation Review Committee to be made up of principals and teachers, and agreed to work on that after our last contract settled. That effort is now bearing fruit. We piloted what we now call the Peer Assistance and Review Committee this spring. The Committee will eventually consist of 8 teachers and 8 principals who will review teacher evaluations where principals raise performance concerns. The PAR committee will then review the principal's and consulting teacher's recommendations on next steps for that teacher and then make the appropriate recommendation to the superintendent.

Other issues? Yes!

Racial equity (see previous Unity articles for more on our bargaining discussions), dual language school workloads, early release schedules and expectations, and more are still in discussion.

Announcement: Nominations open 8/27 for 
Director of the SEA Center for Race and Equity

In June the SEA Representative Assembly voted to create a 
new elected officer position: the
Director of the SEA Center for Race and Equity. Nominations will open for that position on Monday, August 27th. Your Association Representatives will elect the new officer at the Representative Assembly on September 18th. Future elections will then be held together with elections for all SEA officers.

The SEA Center for Race and Equity was founded in 2016. Marquita Prinzing was appointed as the Director at its founding. You can review the bylaw change here and learn
about the Center for Race and Equity here.


What's Next?
Make sure to like and follow the SEA Facebook and Twitter pages. We will be sharing bargaining team testimonials and additional updates there. In addition to 35+ members of our bargaining team, we have another 25 Zone Captains (by high school feeder pattern) who are connecting with building reps on a regular basis so that we remain well organized!

SEA General Membership Meeting
Vote on Agreement or an Action Plan
Tuesday, August 28
5PM - Benaroya Hall
Downtown Seattle

If you would like to help ensure smooth sign in and process for the GMM, please let your building rep know ASAP that you are willing to help. The Zone captains will be looking to recruit folks in the coming weeks.  
After working summer school or taking a little bit of time off, our 35 member bargaining team was back at the table last week, and we'll be bargaining 10 or more of the next 15 days! Our sister WEA unions around the state are also heading back to the table in their local districts. We have
Bargaining continues Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week!

Be sure to watch Facebook for updates between publishing of our Unity newsletters!


>>>>> QUICK NOTES <<<<<

Pearl Jam is partnering with  Donors Choose to support educators creating classroom projects focusing on students experiencing homelessness.
Here is the link to the Pearl Jam web page with the link to the Donors Choose site. There you will find the criteria for the grants.
Within schools, educators are often the first point of contact. Wherever you teach, student homelessness exists. In fact, children and youth experience homelessness in the United States at the same rates in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Educators who know they have students experiencing homelessness are especially encouraged to post projects, while educators in any community can play a role by working with students to help children and youth experiencing homelessness in your district or community.
The full-year school calendar and work calendars for 2018-19 have been  posted! Click here to view.

Don't miss out 
on breaking SEA text alerts: text SEATTLEEA  to 41411 to stay informed!


Thank you all for your generous donations to those who share their need for leave. 

Members can access the shared leave form to donate hours by clicking HERE. Forms can be submitted to or FAXED to 206-252-0021 or mailed to Seattle Public Schools, MS 33-380, PO Box 34165, Seattle, WA 98124-1165.

Seattle Education Association
5501 4th Ave S, Ste 101
Seattle, WA 98108

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