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May 6, 2015

Walkout Update: Make-up day pending Board approval

WALKOUT UPDATE:

May 8, 2015

The Kennewick Education Association (KEA) (our local teacher’s union) voted last night to conduct a one-day walkout on May 21. In all likelihood, this will mean that the district will have to close all schools on May 21.

The KEA has requested that the District reschedule the missed day for June 12. We will be making that recommendation to the School Board at our next meeting on May 13. If the School Board approves that change, we will notify everyone on May 14 that the makeup day will be June 12.

Dave Bond
Superintendent

LETTER FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT:

May 6, 2015


Dear Kennewick School District Parents and Community Members,

School district administrators in Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland have been informed by the local teachers unions that they are considering a one-day walkout to signal their displeasure with the Legislature. The three teacher unions are scheduled to vote on the walkout on Thursday, May 7. Since this action impacts all students and parents in the school districts, we believe it is important to communicate the districts’ position on this issue.

The Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland school districts are empathetic to many of the concerns of the local teacher unions and the decisions being made in Olympia regarding the adoption of the state budget and other education legislation.

We are in frequent contact with our legislators and have been to Olympia already this year to talk with them about key issues. We also had several meetings with our local Legislators prior to the legislative session to explain our concerns and positions. We have consistently told legislators that employee compensation must be addressed, and then that full-day kindergarten and K-3 class size reductions along with capital and MSOC funding are the next highest priorities for funding.

While other locals have stated that the proposed walkout is not against the local district or the local community, those impacted primarily are parents and students along with other district employees.  The following list of items are some of the potential impacts of a walkout:

  • The calendar is a document that the local associations vote on, and once approved by the local union, is submitted to the School Board for its approval. It represents an agreement between the School Boards and the local unions as to the work days for the school year. It is expected that any proposed change in the calendar would need to be agreed to by both the School Board and the teachers’ union.
  • The state requires 180 days in each school year. Any missed day would need to be made up before the end of this school year. Seniors would also need to make up a day if this action drops them below 175 days.
  • Cancelling school also means cancelling any activities or athletic events for that day.
  • Walking out at this time of the school year would impact nearly 2,750 non-teaching employees in the three districts including secretaries, bus drivers, para-educators, nutrition services workers, maintenance/custodial and others who would not get a voice in the decision, and yet would be impacted by it, some potentially adversely.
  • Students are in the midst of testing season with many schools having very tight testing schedules in order to complete SBAC and MAP testing within the required windows. In addition, high school students are taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests, many of which have no alternate test dates.
  • Parents would be impacted significantly by having to find child care for a work day in the middle of the week. Some parents may have to miss work in order to take care of children. This represents a significant negative impact on many of our parents, often financial.
  • Our community has shown significant support for the school district, our teachers, and our other employees. If teachers walk off the job, it may have a negative impact on future support for the district.
  • There are more effective ways to influence legislators, such as emailing, phoning, visiting them face to face, or attending weekend town hall meetings. These are ways to have our voices heard without impacting our students and parents.
  • Both the Senate and the House budget have significant increases for education, to the tune of nearly $1.5 billion. While we all may want them to move faster in fully funding education, this represents significant progress.
We fully understand that this is a challenging issue.  Many things about the legislature frustrate us as well. We hope that teachers will honor the calendar they chose and was approved by the Boards, and will find more effective ways to communicate their concerns with the Legislature. 

Once the unions make their decision this Thursday evening, we will contact you with their decision and the impact it will have on you and your students.

Dave Bond
Superintendent
Kennewick School District