“If we do not get a fair contract this school year we will be forced to strike”

Hello Renton parents and community:

We are parents and teachers of students in the Renton School District and feel compelled to give you further insight and to communicate what is happening in the bargaining sessions. We feel very strongly about our families; you are important to us. We are concerned that communication has not reached you or that it is hard to decipher and/or that you do not have all the facts. School is approaching and communication is the key. We wanted to take the time to reach out and give you information on what has been happening and how you may help.

As educators, we want school to start on time. Starting on time is what is best for students, families and schools. There is a huge problem with the bargaining and what the district is proposing as of now. If this continues it will hurt not only the staff but also the students. If we cannot come to an agreement by Aug. 27, there is a huge possibility of a strike and schools will not start on time. Schools will be closed, which can be difficult on families.

There are three major things we are fighting for:

Compensation, Special Education Services Behavior Support & Student Discipline

As employees, we don’t receive every piece of the information while the bargaining team is in session. We are only told small pieces of information, but the information we are receiving right now is alarming and will hurt our schools. As of now educators cannot accept the contract. We have been rallying, sending emails and attending school board meetings all summer to address our concerns. We recently have been told that there has been some movement in bargaining due to community support and our rallying as educators.

As you a may or may not know the McCleary law suit was finally settled in June 2018.

The state Supreme Court ordered the state to fully fund K-12 public schools. $2.1 billion was given to the Washington districts for educators salaries. RSD has come to the bargaining table offering a 3.1 percent raise for both certificated and classified staff.

This would not be a raise, in fact, educators salaries will be lower because levy dollars will not be used for extra hours. The approximate $45 million, already given to the district is far more than the levy money was covering for the TRI. This is insulting. Teachers and classified staff have stood at many events trying to get our voices heard that we are not making a livable wage. Many of our own children are on the free and reduced lunch. Many have to work 2 or 3 jobs to make it. The district is holding this money and only wanting to allocate 3.1 percent of the intended 24 percent given to Renton for certified and classified salaries.

As educators, we want you to know we have to fight for the correct base salary increase because if we don’t the state will not honor it again. They will see that the money was not utilized as intended and it may also effect the amount we get next year to reduce class sizes.

So why is this so important?

If we do not get a fair contract this school year we will be forced to strike. If we don’t, our district will not be competitive with other districts that are valuing their educators with the adequate pay allotted by the state. We will not be able to hold educators here, and that will be detrimental to our students, schools, and community. They will move to neighboring districts who are following the McCleary funding. This contract is non-reversible, we need to act this year. Misusing our McCleary state funded money ($45 million) will create a domino effect as the district will then attempt to cover this loss with levy money that is supposed to guarantee smaller class sizes, special services, supplies and the proper experience our students deserve.

We want you to know how important your voice can be. The district needs to hear us, and you so that school can start on time. We only have a week left to make this happen. The contract will be presented for us to vote on Aug. 27 and school starts Aug. 29.

A parent stood in front of our school board and asked “Bellevue, Issaquah and other school districts are giving their staff better pay, can you look my children in the eyes and say their children’s education is worth more than mine? When in fact the cost the of living in Renton is similar to theirs.”

The fact is the money is there. It is in the bank, the district just needs encouragement to do the right thing.

Please take the time to email our superintendent and school board to ensure school starts on time.

Thanks for taking time,

Tabetha Magnuson and Tammy Rayburn

Parents and Teachers in the RSD