An extra $45 million budget surplus for this school year will help pay for the 10.5 percent raise promised to union members in the recent tentative contract, which is estimated to cost about $57.6 million.
It’s unclear, though, how sustainable that raise will be.Phyllis Campano, president of the Seattle Education Association, said on Wednesday that if the union and district can’t lobby the Legislature for more flexibility on the levy swap, there could be layoffs at the end of the school year. The district did not immediately respond to requests to confirm that the deal could potentially trigger layoffs.
When Campano was asked why the teams would approve a 10.5 percent raise if itcould trigger layoffs, she responded: “We think we can work hard enough to not let that happen.”
That means another trip to Olympia in 2019 for increased funding.
After Saturday’s vote, some educators pledged to march in Olympia next year, hoping to attract teachers from other districts who could convince the Legislature to provide more money for schools.
After the hefty boosts in funding to satisfy the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, lawmakers are likely to be skeptical.
Chris Reykdal, Washington’s state schools chief, told The Times last week that he would push for flexibility on the levy lids because he believed it would harm district budgets. But legislators indicated a future bailout is unlikely.
Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island said last week that the Legislature shouldn’t be micromanaging local negotiations. “It’s their responsibility to have stable budgets,” she said.
To the extent that local levies supplement state funding for teacher compensation, another round of lawsuits can be anticipated. That’s the issue we raised previously, noting the number of double-digit settlements and concerns raised by editorials in the Seattle Times and the Columbian. The ST editorial board wrote,
Districts need to stick to a basic principle as they negotiate these multiyear labor contracts: Don’t bargain away money you don’t have.
School district officials should not expect that the Legislature will swoop in and add billions more in K-12 funding to cover shortfalls stemming from districts negotiating unsustainable raises…
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.
After a decade of focusing on school-funding reform, state lawmakers are frankly fatigued. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that, with the money lawmakers already have added, they have met the state’s K-12 funding obligations outlined in the McCleary case.