An open letter to teachers’ union


In order to fully appreciate your position in the current labor dispute with the Kent School District, I have one request: present a budget that reflects your bargaining proposals and the effect on the district’s budgets for the term of the contract currently being negotiated.

I feel this is a reasonable request; do you agree?

Shouldn’t the citizens of the Kent School District have the opportunity to see how your contract proposals will affect the budget for the district and policies for future budgets?

I would hope you would be able to provide this and not say, “It is not our responsibility to set policy.” For this negotiation is all about policy; the policies the KSD board adopts to set budgets. When the KEA was first organized and obtained the right to bargain for the teachers of Kent, the school board at that time ceded some control of setting budget policy to the Kent Education Association in the form of contract negotiation and approval. For the agreements reflected in a ratified contract will contribute to setting budget policy for the district.

Isn’t it reasonable, and responsible, for the KEA to show how the contract proposals affect the entire budget?

If I was a demanding person, I would want to see an analysis of your proposals that extend out five years, but I will be satisfied for an analysis that concerns the length of the contract currently being negotiated. Federal stimulus funding will end next year. The state budget didn’t fully fund pensions, obligations that will eventually need to honored. When the state passes a COLA, there is a local cost that comes out of the district’s budget. As well as Rules and regulations that affect how dollars can be spent.

Isn’t it reasonable to see a budget analysis of the KEA proposals that reflects these realities?

If the KEA believes there is enough funding in the district to support your proposals, please, provide a budget. If you believe the district’s budget is incorrect, please, provide funding data that you believe to be accurate. Allow me to compare and contrast the data. I sit on the Citizens Budget Review Committee. I am writing this as a private citizen. I believe I have a working understanding of the whole budget. If the contract proposals of the KEA do not affect the long-term financial security of the district, provide a budget. I share the same desires as the KEA. However, I desire more a district with a sound, and secure, financial future. This dispute should not be with the district. It should be with Olympia; I will join you in that fight.

Is the request to see a budget from the KEA a reasonable one? I believe so. Do you agree?

Robert North


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