Hundreds of teachers to rally for higher pay
Hundreds of teachers in Western Washington school districts will be rallying for higher pay Wednesday.
Many of them of them say they’re closer to going on strike.
The state legislature approved $776 million to be spent this year for teachers’ salaries as part of fulfilling the McCleary decision by the Supreme Court, but district officials across the area are saying districts could be plunged into further deficit.
After picketing and protests Tuesday, Mukilteo teachers will decide on Wednesday whether they will strike if their district doesn’t reopen salary negotiations.
Teachers in the Seattle and Bethel school districts, and bus drivers in the Sumner district, say they’ll be rallying for higher pay as well.
Teachers in Kent authorized a strike last week.
While districts received more money for teachers’ salaries from the McCleary decision this year, some districts, such as Seattle Schools, say because of an upcoming cap on property tax levies, could put them in the red after a one-time surplus.
But teachers and staff say the money is enough to go around.
“A 3.1 percent (increase offered by the district) is a slap in the face because we haven’t had a cost of living increase in two years,” said Kent school nurse Margie Heagarty.
Some districts, such as Edmonds, are paying their teachers more, while neighboring ones like Seattle are threatening to cut teacher pay.
Some of the protests or strikes could run right up to the beginning of the school year, potentially causing delays to the start of classes.