Sen. Claudia Kauffman: Finger pointing won’t resolve Kent teachers’ strike

Array

On the eve of the Kent teachers’ strike, I attended the Kent School Board Meeting. The discussion was charged with emotion. Parents, educators, classified staff and students spoke passionately to School Board members. Every person in that room wanted a resolution to the impending strike, but the board’s response was to tell the audience to contact their state legislators for additional dollars.

It is not that simple, and I believe we need to clarify two issues.

First, we faced one of the toughest budget years in our state’s history. Our basic health-care system saw deep reductions of 43 percent, and our college and university system saw a 17-percent drawback. The Kent School District’s budget was reduced by only 2.5 percent. The amount of state revenue for the Kent School District in the next two years is projected to be $347 million. With the additional federal stimulus funds passing through the state, the total from the state budget for Kent schools comes to $356.2 million. We made education our highest priority and preserved school budgets as much as possible.

Second, while I understand how much the state’s decisions affect the Kent School District’s funding, the School Board has control over its own budget. The district has comprehensive revenue sources. It receives not only state funds but also federal and local funds, grants/contracts and voter approved levies. In addition, the district has a very healthy rainy day fund.

Through the use of our state-level Rainy Day Fund we were able to lessen the cuts to school districts. I have fought and will continue to fight for higher funding to our state’s schools.

The situation we face now in Kent isn’t the result of this year’s or even last year’s budgets. It’s the result of diminishing resources, increasing needs and rightly frustrated educators. Everyone’s focus should be on exploring all possible avenues to resolve grievances, not pointing fingers.

The Kent School District and our teachers need to collaborate to get our children back at their desks and our teachers back in the classrooms. Our children are too precious and their future too important to leave them standing outside the classroom door.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He is a former president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. Contact thebrunells@msn.com.
Thoughts on Memorial Day and the ultimate sacrifice | Brunell

On Memorial Day, we traditionally honor Americans in our military who gave… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@auburn-reporter.com.
In search of fairness, morals and good sportsmanship | Whale's Tales

Ah, the Golden Rule. We all know it: do unto others as… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@auburn-reporter.com.
If you're right, and you know it, then read this | Whale's Tales

As the poet Theodore Roethke once wrote: “In a dark time the eye begins to see…”

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@auburn-reporter.com.
The key thing is what we do with our imperfections | Whale's Tales

I have said and done many things of which I am not proud. That is, I am no golden bird cheeping about human frailties from some high branch of superhuman understanding.

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@albmedia.app.
Grappling with the finality of an oncologist's statement | Whale's Tales

Perhaps my brain injected a bit of humor to cover the shock. But I felt the gut punch.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Legislature back in session next week | Cartoon

State lawmakers return Jan. 8 to Olympia.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Santa doesn't drive a Kia | Cartoon

Cartoon by Frank Shiers.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Salute to veterans | Cartoon by Frank Shiers

On Veterans Day, honor those who served your country.

File photo
Why you should vote in the upcoming election | Guest column

When I ask my students when the next election is, frequently they will say “November 2024” or whichever presidential year is coming up next.

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@albmedia.app.
Here's a column for anyone who loves their dog | Whale's Tales

It is plain to me in looking at dogs small and large that a decent share of them are exemplars of love on Earth, innocents who love unconditionally and love their chow.

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@albmedia.app.
Please protect your children from BS spreaders | Whale's Tales

Among the most useful things I studied in college were debate, and… Continue reading