Teachers union to rally in support of contract

‘We’re trying to influence the conversation’
By Brian Soergel | Jul 06, 2017

Teachers in the Edmonds School District haven’t gone on strike since 1987.

“I remember that date because that’s when my husband graduated from high school,” said Andi Nofziger-Meadows, Edmonds Education Association president.

Now the question is: Will that change after the three-year collective bargaining agreement between the district and union expires Aug. 31?

The push and pull between the two usually is one that is resolved in time – witness the 30 years of harmony – but if there’s to be a strike this summer, Nofziger-Meadows said it’s too early to tell.

“The district has been very hesitant to bargain proposals that we’ve put forward,” she said.

“One of the proposals is to provide additional support for students who struggle; our schools are very impacted by students who struggle to learn. So our bargaining proposal is to try to address some of those inequities. Hopefully, we change the conversation.”

“It is unfortunate to hear EEA leadership say that the District is ‘hesitant to bargain,’ as the teams and the discussions are just getting underway,” Edmonds School District Superintendent Kris McDuffy said.

“There are at least five additional bargaining sessions scheduled for August. We are committed to open, ongoing dialog.”

To support their cause, Edmonds Education Association members, who number more than 1,500, will hold a bargaining rally before the school district board meeting July 11.

They will be there from 5:45 to 7 p.m. at the district office at 20420 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood, and a few plan to speak during public comment, Nofziger-Meadows said, in support of a contract that supports educators and student learning.

“We’re trying to influence the conversation by getting the school board to encourage their bargaining team to be willing to engage in that conversation with us,” she said.

Nofziger-Meadows admits much depends on last week’s two-year, $43.7 billion state operating budget approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Inslee.

It allocates $7.3 billion over four years for public-school spending by raising state property taxes, $1.8 billion to be spent in the 2017-19 budget cycle.

The budget also creates new rules to cap the amount of money districts take in from local levies.

The budget will be analyzed by the state Supreme Court to determine if it satisfies the 2012 McCleary school-funding case, which determined the state was not fulfilling its constitutional requirement to fund basic education for all students, including compensation for basic-education teachers.

It required the state to comply by Sept. 1, 2018.

“We haven’t put teacher compensation on the table yet because we didn’t have a state budget,” Nofziger-Meadows said.

“We’re working to sort through (the new budget). The bottom line is that it’s a mixed bag, and it doesn’t come close to satisfying McCleary. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Supreme Court reacts.

“It’s got some good things in it. There’s more funding for special education, more funding for teacher salaries for those who have taught fewer years in the system. And it protects our bargaining rights, so we will be bargaining a new salary (arrangement) with the district next year.

“Right now, the issues we’re talking about are in support of classrooms and student learning, as well as providing educators with the time they need to be able to plan, assist and work with students and parents. It’s not at all about money right now. It’s all about trying to support our classrooms.”

The Edmonds Education Association has a general membership meeting planned Aug. 29. If a new contract agreement with the district has not been approved, members will make a decision on a general strike.

The Edmonds School District has a $260 million annual operating budget, 86 percent of which goes to employee salaries and benefits.

The district includes 13 employee organizations, which serve 3,000-plus employees. Each of these organizations has either a collective bargaining agreement or a memorandum of understanding with the district, which outlines the terms of their contracts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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