Bellevue School District Teacher Strike, Day 7 of ?
Published 09-10-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

I’ve just watched about a half-hour of the special school board meeting to discuss what the Bellevue School Board should do next. In the hour I saw, parents seemed to agree with teachers on the curriculum issue. Perhaps if the School Board had listened to all 1200 teacher say exactly the same things when we met with them to discuss curriculum BACK IN FEBRUARY!, we might not be pacing back and forth on hot sidewalks with picket signs today. The parents I saw verged from ambivalent to upset that teachers would ask for more money. They were adamant against class size increase and program reduction. This is why the district ties our raise to those two issues. I feel that the salary issue is important for several reasons and will now embark upon a rant to no one in particular about my reasoning.

Higher pay attracts more applicants which allows administrators to pick the best of the bunch. If anyone can argue against that, please leave me a comment. I have no qualms about posting comments that disagree with me.

The district can afford it. The union of all 1200 teachers is asking for approximately $4 million a year. That is approximately 2% of their 07-08 budget. As noted in many places, the former financial person and current interim superintendent has grossly mismanaged school funds. So much so, that the district has already cut $4.8 million from their budget this year. They say there’s no money left. The union wants the district to ask the people to fund our pay raise. Levies are now easier than ever to pass. Of course they wouldn’t ask for a levy to fix Karen Clark’s mistakes. Would they ask for one so they could recruit the best teachers?

Other districts have afforded it. You cannot believe how difficult it is to find comparative statistics on teacher salary. I spent two hours looking at salary schedules this afternoon before I gave up. I can give you comparisons on TRI pay increases from some districts, overall increases from others, and nothing at all from still others. If a group can make a database of teacher pay raises in the state that would be great. Maybe the Evergreen Freedom Foundation can do something useful other than be all Republican all the time. Here are the two useful statistics I found.

These two neighboring districts can afford it, why can’t Bellevue? I also found information about other districts, but am having a hard time translating them accurately into the same type of percentages, because of limited information. I’ll tell you what I found if it will help you. Here, according to my rudimentary research and understanding, are the salary increases that beginning teachers on the lowest pay scale will get (not counting the state raise). You’ll have to look at last year and this year’s salary schedules to figure out these same numbers. Good luck.

It is clear that this is an unclear issue. The data I found and the numbers I calculated from that data appear to show very small increases. Mere hundreds of dollars for the lowest paid teachers. I must restate that I have only spent three hours on this project, have nowhere near the capability to find accurate numbers in that time or gain a full understanding of the variations of teacher pay in the districts nearest Seattle, and more information is necessary to make a fully informed decision regarding the fairness of the union offer in comparision to surrounding districts. Comparing to the six districts in the second section shows that Bellevue is in the middle. Lower than Auburn, Mukilteo and Snohomish, tied with Monroe. All districts that are much less capable of generating revenue than Bellevue is.

Okay, enough ranting and researching.

According to the most recent news alerts, the school board will not be filing an injunction against the teachers (yet). After watching the debate via the internet, I figured that might be the case. It is now up to the bargaining teams to work full time to settle this thing so I can start teaching calculus. It was my understanding that, after the scheduled first day of school, the union team extended an open invitiation to the district team to bargain at any time. They should now take advantage of that and work towards a compromise on both of the two main points left to discuss, compensation and curriculum.

I’ll be outside tomorow afternoon encouraging them to do so.

on strike

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Keywords: bellevue, curriculum, salary, strike, teacher

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