Eight legislators in the Tacoma area are asking the school district and members of the Tacoma School Board to reach an agreement with teachers and end a near week-long strike.
Sen. Steve Conway, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Rep. Jake Fey, Rep. Christine Kilduff, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Rep. Steve Kirby, Rep. Dick Muri, and Sen. Steve O’Ban signed the letter on Monday.
They said they realize the inequities that the Tacoma School District is dealing with, but promised to fix them in the 2019 legislative session. It also reassured the district that the McCleary decision is not the definitive conversation on education.
“There are a myriad of issues which, combined, have placed Tacoma schools in one of the most difficult positions of any district in Washington. While not all of these issues will be able to be addressed in a single legislative session, our energies will be focused on addressing levy capacity, appropriately funding special education costs, funding health care costs under the new system, addressing salary regionalization factors, funding institutional education costs, increasing funding for support staff, addressing the experience-mix multiplier, examining the prototypical staffing model and improving equity for high poverty school districts like ours.”
The legislators offered their help in resolving negotiation challenges.
The district claims the letter supports the argument that it cannot give the increase that teachers want without putting the district further in debt.
Before negotiations with teachers began, the district faced a $25 million budget deficit. The district says the latest offer to teachers would push it $32 million in the hole.
The teachers union believes the letter means the district should not worry about next year because lawmakers have promised a fix.
The two sides continue to negotiate.
KIRO Radio’s Heather Bosch contributed to this report.