Thursday, May 18, 2006

The News-Tribune gets it

While we're focusing on compensation at the district level, remember the broad view: education funding in this state still isn't where it needs to be.
The Federal Way School District is eliminating nearly all school librarians. The Tacoma School District may cut 100 jobs. A dedicated Puyallup teacher tried to save a remedial reading program by paying for it himself.

Aren’t these the same districts that as recently as last month pulled off successful tax levy campaigns, in part by convincing voters that schools would be in dire financial straits without the local tax dollars? And didn’t the Legislature brag that it increased education funding last session?

Taxpayers are paying up, yet the bad budget news keeps coming. What’s happened? The answer is nothing, and that’s the problem.

These districts’ budget woes are just highly visible examples of what’s happening as schools continue to cope with lagging state support. School districts aren’t necessarily receiving fewer dollars. It’s that the dollars don’t have the spending power they once did, or the funding comes with strings attached that can eventually prove costly....

There might be more money for basic education had K-12 funding kept pace with the rest of the state budget. Since 1981, education spending as a percentage of the general fund budget has dropped from 50 percent to 42 percent. It’s easy to blame the Legislature for not living up to the state’s constitutional charge to make education its paramount duty. But that responsibility is shared by all of us who expect state government to do much more than educate our students.
Area organizations aren't just waiting for solutions from the legislature. Check out the latest WEA Chinook newsletter [pdf] to see how locals in Chehalis and Elma are working for better compensation.

Added: Bellevue and Everett and Olympia and Chehalis and Elma... bargaining even as you read.
Bellevue EA began negotiations in early April. Everett EA has 11 bargaining sessions set for May. They join approximately 100 other WEA affiliates who are bargaining new agreements this year. Most contracts expire Aug. 31, which means negotiations likely will continue throughout the summer in some districts.

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