The McCleary Decision, School Funding and Teacher Salaries…

The McCleary Decision, School Funding and Teacher Salaries…

We have received inquiries from community members about the status of school next week. Thank you for reaching out. We know the bargaining process is on everyone’s mind. We are all excited for the start of school and welcoming our students back! We are in bargaining negotiations as a result of the McCleary court decision and are following that process. As we move toward the first day of school, you will hear many points of view about the McCleary court decision and its impact on teacher salaries. Below is a collection of common questions with answers found from a variety of sources.


Why are other school districts able to offer higher raises for teachers?

Washington State Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s interview with MYNorthwest

“And districts were treated very differently,” Reykdal said. “There are some contracts that are coming out and really significant increases for teachers and the districts have resources. There are other districts who just simply didn’t get that kind of resource and it’s going to get a little bit tense over the next couple weeks as that becomes a reality.” Scott, Hanna (2018, August 15). Superintendent asks for patience amid potential teacher strikes, and districts figure out funding. Retrieved from http://mynorthwest.com/1081795/reykdal-teacher-strikes-funding-2018/?

Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno’s letter to the Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board

“In the new law, districts with an average teacher salary below the state average can give big salary increases. But districts such as Tacoma, which already have an average salary above the state average, are limited by the law to no more than a 3.1 percent increase for the 2018-2019 school year.” Santorno, Carla (2018, August 18). State reduces Tacoma schools to financial losers. Retrieved from https://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/article216808465.html


Didn’t the McCleary decision provide millions of dollars specifically for teacher salary increases?

Seattle Times Editorial Board

“Because those local school district property-tax levies are set to go down starting in January 2019, not all of the added state money coming to districts is actually available for teacher salary increases – at least, not beyond next year . . . Teachers can expect raises this year – just not double-digit ones.” Seattle Times editorial board (2018, August 17). Local school districts should stick to a basic principle as they renegotiate contracts with their teachers unions: Don’t bargain away money you don’t have.  Retrieved from https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/unsustainable-teacher-raises-risk-new-school-funding-crisis/


Why has the Meridian School District Board of Directors focused on sustainability?

Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s interview on King 5 Mornings on Kong

Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal joined Jake Whittenberg and Mimi Jung on KING 5 Mornings on KONG to help explain why we're seeing teachers protesting before the start of the school year. https://www.king5.com/video/news/state-superintendent-chris-reykdal-talks-teacher-salaries/281-8227999

Washington State Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s interview with MYNorthwest

“I actually am more worried that districts feel like they have some fund balance right now to play with and that absolutely will not be the case a year from now when they are fully into the new [McCleary] model,” [Reykdal] added. “So the bargaining environment is harder right now the actual fiscal reality, I think, hits a lot more in years three and four.” Scott, Hanna (2018, August 15). Superintendent asks for patience amid potential teacher strikes, and districts figure out funding. Retrieved from http://mynorthwest.com/1081795/reykdal-teacher-strikes-funding-2018/?

Seattle Times Editorial Board

“To avoid returning to a broken system, districts must hold the line when it comes to negotiating teachers’ raises, and not award more than they can afford. To do anything else is simply irresponsible.” Seattle Times editorial board (2018, August 17). Local school districts should stick to a basic principle as they renegotiate contracts with their teachers unions: Don’t bargain away money you don’t have.  Retrieved from https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/unsustainable-teacher-raises-risk-new-school-funding-crisis/


What do the Meridian School District Board of Directors say?

“I would first like to say how much I appreciate all of our educators at Meridian. Many of you are longtime community members, former alumni that I attended school with, or former alumni of Meridian. We bleed black and gold.  “Once a Trojan, always a Trojan”. Many of you have become personal friends of mine over the years and I completely admire the passion that all of you have as educators at Meridian. It is a passion like none other I have ever seen.  You are all outstanding advocates for our students at Meridian. I personally am proud of each and every one of you for the work that you do at Meridian.

As board directors, we do appreciate you very much. I believe in advocacy for all of our kids just as I know you do. It is always important to be a steward of our students’ future. As Board Directors, we work hard to make the right decisions for the future of Meridian not just for today, but also for the long-term future. We are always wanting the best for our teachers, and we will continue to work with our superintendent through this bargaining session to get to an agreement that we can responsibly provide to our valued educators at Meridian.

Thank you again to all of you. It is an honor to serve as a School Board Director for such an outstanding district.” Marty Gray, Meridian School District Board Chairman

 

"As a Meridian school board director for over 10 years I am proud to have been involved and contributed to many challenging situations as our district grew. During this time not only did the physical appearance of our district change but so did our culture. Meridian has developed a first-class culture unique of its nature in that, not only do we put our students and teachers, first and foremost, we have done so without utilizing municipal, industrial, or broad tax base. Unfortunately, the McCleary decision does not provide us ample resources and challenges our ability to remain sustainable.

The Meridian School District has all the skills to overcome this challenge as it has others in its past. As a School Board Director, community member and parent of 3 Meridian graduates, I will continue to support the culture we have all created and look forward to the outcome and resolution that supports all of us for the future of Meridian." Craig Wasilewski, Meridian School Board Vice Chairman

 

"The Meridian School District has a long tradition of providing an exceptional learning environment and putting the education of students first. The District has made recruiting and retaining quality teachers and other staff a top priority. We value our teachers and will do everything in our power to continue to be competitive within our means for all of our employees. I am proud my children attend Meridian schools and honored to serve in my role as School Board Director." Craig Mitchell, Meridian School Board Director

 

"I have had the pleasure of serving as a School Board Director for Meridian for many years. During this time, I have witnessed the District rebuild our school facilities, upgrade our technology systems and increase pay for our teachers, staff and administrators. We have made great strides in creating a positive culture and environment in which to go about the business of educating students. This has been possible through the conservative and prudent management of the state and local tax dollars the District receives from our taxpayers. 

The challenge is the product of a very inequitable funding plan our legislators cobbled together to satisfy the McCleary decision. The Seattle Times editorial board are correct in their assessment of August 17: Unsustainable teacher raises risk new school-funding crisis. As a School Board Director, I have no greater responsibility to our taxpayers than that of fiscal responsibility." Brian Evans, Meridian School Board Director


What does the Meridian School District Superintendent say?

“We are seeking a solution that is sustainable for a difficult situation. The McCleary decision is complex and has increased disparities around the state. It was not done equitably, nor was it fair. We want to do what we can for our remarkable teachers – all our employees – and in service of our students and families. The McCleary decision was not kind to Meridian. We have to navigate this in a way that is sustainable and we will do our very best. However, we will not make obligations that put the district – all of us – at risk. I have experienced the passion and dedication of our teachers first-hand at Meridian. This is a very special district with outstanding qualities. We will continue to work together for a sustainable solution.” James Everett, Ed.D., Meridian School District Superintendent