Friday, September 11, 2015

Teachers Strike from Parents' View

On KUOW, they are discussing the strike.  They opened with a single parent who was said she supported the teachers' goal but the strike was too hard on parents. 

Paul Guppy at the Washington Policy Center called the strike the "nuclear option" and said "grownups" should work things out.  He was challenged on blaming teachers more than the district and he demurred (and yet had nothing to say about the district and their role in this).

Parents, I have heard that many of you are very unhappy.  It is now day three of the strike.  So some questions:

- do you support the teachers' goals (and that is not just about salary)?
- how long can the strike go on before you think there will be hard feelings between parents and teachers?
- what should parents do to push the district AND SEA to get it done?


97 comments:

Anonymous said...

I support the teacher's goals. All of them. I have seen talented teachers bullied and even fired for questioning curricula and ever-changing district policies. We would like to get back to school as this is a hardship. However my hard feelings are reserved for administration.

-Parent

Po3 said...

I support the teachers 100%, but am not 100% confident in the SEAs ability to come to an agreement as it may be getting too political.

I have nothing but disdain for the district - but that is nothing new!

Kids to be back in school by the end of next week, hope this can happen.

Anonymous said...

I see SEA is already planning a March for Tuesday, so not intending to get kids to school before Thursday at the very earliest. I would love, love, love one shred of evidence that SEA's plan is anything besides just hold out until the district caves. That is the most difficult possible plan for children and parents, and shows me this is really not about the kids for them. Come to the table, SEA! We will support you in your fight! But you have to fight.

I think the question of how long parent support can hold is a really interesting one. I think in the south where there are more distressed families parents are already starting to have hard feelings. In the north where there are more stay at home parents and well supported free lancers, supporting teachers is less costly so can go on for longer. I support some of the platform, and would be willing to support a strike if I felt respected in the process (so, if SEA was still bargaining). I don't now if I will have hard feelings toward teachers in my buildings, but I sure won't forgive SEA anytime soon unless something really big happens. I haven't liked the district for years. I wonder if this is just what happens with longtime district activists. Eventually you see everybody behave so badly you just throw your hands up.

-sleeper

Floor Pie said...

100% support, and as long as it takes. My son missed months of instruction last year due to a woefully understaffed and inexperienced special ed department. I don't mind him missing a few more if it means SEA can win caseload caps for specialists and prevent the District from cutting special ed staff even further. At least with the strike he's not witnessing his traumatized classmates getting restrained on the floor every other day.

The status quo is broken and not worth preserving. We can stand the inconvenience of a strike if is means meaningful changes for SPS students.

MatttheEngineer said...

I feel like the issues are too complex for most of us to know who to blame at the local level. I'm not in the closed-door negotiations, so I don't know which side has the unreasonable demands.

It seems to me that we're fighting this at the wrong level. What power or money does the district actually have? Isn't most of the funding from the state, and the local funding achieved by levies? It feels a bit like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. Unless the balance is teacher salaries vs. books and buildings, I just don't see where the district could get more money or why they wouldn't if they had that power.

Anonymous said...

I support the teachers! I understand schools are underfunded state-wide, but why can't the district come back with some of the non-monetary things the teachers are asking for--a change in the evaluations, for instance? And REALLY? Nyland gets more than the governor?!? There's serious money in there somewhere, they need to re-examine priorities.

I'm frustrated the sides aren't talking much right now, but I also know-from being union rep myself--once all the lawyers get involved, it becomes adversarial fast.

I'll support them as long as it takes, but I really hope it doesn't take very long.

S End Parent

Robert Cruickshank said...

From everything I've seen, whether it's the mass outpouring of support from the Soup for Teachers movement, or stories like this: http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/09/08/22830115/guest-editorial-we-are-seattle-parents-and-we-support-seattle-teachers-in-the-event-of-a-strike/ or this: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/11/seattle-teacher-strike-parents-community-supportive , parents support the teachers here.

It's also true that most parents want the strike to be over. But that's not the same thing as blaming the teachers for it. The school district has been profoundly hostile to working with parents and teachers to provide better schools for Seattle's kids. The superintendent and his senior staff, aided by a board majority that has abdicated its duty to properly oversee the district, believe in a top-down model that basically says "we are right and your job, parents and teachers, is to shut up and let us do as we please."

This strike will end when parents make it clear to the district that this attitude, including their refusal to agree to the union's reasonable terms, is no longer acceptable.

Brian Duncan said...

I agree with Robert's summary above. Below is my parent perspective on a few of the issues under negotiation.

Superintendent Nyland and Directors:

As a parent of an elementary student at Salmon Bay K-8, and an incoming 9th grader at Ballard High School, I urge the District to negotiate an extension of the instructional day that:

1. has most or all of the extra minutes for elem allocated to recess, lunch, or PE, all of which are more needed than more instructional time on academics per se in elem grades. Eliminating excessive standardized testing will free up significantly more instructional time that could be allocated to academic instruction minutes. This is the correct priority order from a parent perspective. Please take an extensive poll of parents to find out majority opinion on prioritization of more recess or more academic minutes, if you are unpersuaded by studies around the country on this topic.

2. adds an equivalent number of paid minutes for teacher prep or collaboration time, so that these are not cut as a consequence of adding more instructional/supervisory recess/lunch/PE time. Increase prep and collaboration time is surely a great investment of budget dollars, as it should result in more effective teaching and learning outcomes.

3. does not preclude flipping start times for MS and HS versus Elementary. Two tier ok with MS, K-8 (at least 6-8), and HS on later start time, and elem on early start time.

More recess time is a priority for elem. More prep time and teacher collaboration time, and should be paid the same as the rest of the work day. If District must comply with state law mandate to add more instructional time beyond more recess/lunch/PE, then this should be carved out of excessive standardized testing time. If the instructional day is lengthened further, teachers should be paid for such lengthening, at the same rate as all other time. Later start times will result in more effective teaching and learning for MS and high school students. This has been proved elsewhere, and should be adopted forthwith. After school sports is valuable, just like recess, lunch, and PE, but should not be the tail that wags the dog. Practices and games can occur later, under lighted fields as necessary.

SPS should have the highest pay scale of any public school system in the state, and should be competitive with the highest in the Country, as we have one of the highest costs of living. If this puts pressure on the State to increase funding, that is a good thing, and should be supported by District admin and school board.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Brian Duncan

Tina Podlodowski, QAE parent said...

I support the teachers, and the teacher's goals 100%.

Given the bargaining history, I do not trust SPS District leadership to bargain in good faith. I suspect they will use the typical "union busting" tactic of letting the strike drag on, so the hardship on parents becomes difficult, thus hoping to turn parental support against the teachers.

I I think they are miscalculating here - parental ire with the district is higher than ever before, especially when the facts of the situation are clearly communicated. We need to keep doing this, as the Seattle Times is little more that a mouthpiece for the district on this issue.

I expect and HOPE that parents will turn advocacy efforts towards elected officials - like the Governor and the Mayor - to use their bully pulpit to bring this to a close. The parents I have talked to are furious with both for sitting on the sidelines.

#actnowinslee - Gov. Inslee should both call a very uncomfortable special session on McCleary AND get engaged in get both sides to the table productively like Gov. Gregoire did with the Tacoma strike a few years ago;

#whereismayormurray - Mayor Murray should be talking to parents and teachers about what they want/need by going to the strike lines, and use his bully pulpit to call for the district and the union to come together, as well as clarify how his Department of Education and Early learning will HELP, rather than just side with the District;

#whereareseattlelegislators - Kudos to Seattle Councilmembers Licata, Okamoto and Sawant in support of teachers - but where are the rest, and the candidates for council? Where are Seattle Legislators? I know Gerry Pollett and others have expressed support and I apologize for those that I don't know about, haven't mentioned. But where are they? Let's demand they get vocal and explain their positions to us.

But, no matter what:

#dumptheschoolboard - Sue Peters is a rockstar and I applaud her courage for voting "no" on the resolution that authorizes the District to take legal action against the union. A more lukewarm thanks to Betty Patu for abstaining. But SHAME ON US as parents if we don't DUMP Marty McClaren and elect Leslie Harris, Jill Geary and Rick Burke to the School Board.

Anonymous said...

I support the teacher's goals 100% and appreciate their willingness to advocate for kids and education as well as for fair compensation. Collective bargaining is the only way to make this work --I can't even begin to imagine what the schools would be like if every teacher negotiated their own salary independently and there wasn't anybody speaking up about the larger issues. I don't know a great deal about SEA, so I can't vouch for their intentions, but as of right now I think they are doing what needs to be done. I, of course, would hope and expect that they making every reasonable effort to come to an agreement.

For sure it will be harder to support this if it stretches further and further along, but the worst possible outcome would be to end the strike without having come to a fair agreement that SEA members can get behind. We (parents, students, teachers, administrators, citizens) need to see this through to a positive conclusion.

I'm not a face booker, so i can't do the soup for teachers thing, but I know that if this continues to drag on that it will only be more important for parents to continue to visit the picket line and show support, even as we are sick of hearing the initials SEA and SPS. I have been writing letters to everyone I can think of (Nyland, the board, my state senator and representatives, etc.). I would like to think that this could help, but I have no idea what sways this kind of process. I think everyone should lobby the media, too, actually, for a deeper accounting of what has happened to date and what is happening right now. Sometime shedding a little light on an issue (such as what the heck was going on over the summer that put us in such a bad position now) can change the dynamics of a conversation.

North End Parent

Anonymous said...

I started off with with a moderate level of resentment for the district for their too frequent missteps. But now I have an equal amount of resentment for the teachers and their union. If they weren't striking for the money than they would have accepted the salary deal that's on the table (which is a heck of a lot better than most people have gotten since the recession). They say they didn't want to strike but I have seen the videos from their meetings at the Symphony Hall. They voted to strike and celebrated with rabid, gleefull excitement , like it was a high school pep rally. And now they won't even sit at the table? They seem like lemmings that are following union leadership that just want more time in front of cameras and some feathers in their cap to advance their career. I keep on reading that there are teachers who say they didn't really want to strike until the last few weeks when they felt " disrespected" by the district. My guess is that the union leadership is fomenting that line of thought. Get over yourselves. You are going to exacerbate the gap there always exists when kids come back from a summer off and you're going to keep kids from their free and reduced lunches for weeks longer because you can't put your big kid pants on?

So yes, count me as a parent who will have lingering frustration with the teachers when all this is done.

Frustrated Northgate Parent

Anonymous said...

My response:
September 11, 2015

Dear Mr. Nyland, Seattle School Board Members, Governor Inslee, and Legislative Leaders,

I am writing to urge you to settle with the SEA, call an emergency legislative session to find ways to fund Washington schools, and to implement research-based initiatives on teacher pay, racial equity, caseloads, recess and start times.

We have reached a tipping point. As the leaders of Seattle Public Schools and our state, you have the opportunity to turn our school district towards excellence. I hope you will do that. I will work with you.

1. Our city is one of the most expensive in the country. Therefore, our teachers need the highest salary in the state. As you know, talented teachers can teach anywhere. We want them to teach in Seattle. Please find ways to restructure your budget and staffing to allow this to happen.

2. We cannot tie student test scores to teacher evaluations. We know that we need the most talented teachers in struggling schools. As an educator myself, I know that I can teach at a school with parent help and adequate resources and be labeled an excellent teacher. The next year, I could transfer to a school that has not yet met AYP goals and be labeled a failing teacher. What would you choose? Evaluating teachers based on student test scores will effectively move all talented educators, who have choices about where they work, out of struggling schools.

3. In order to learn, students need adequate recess time and appropriate start times. Kindergarten learners cannot sit still in classrooms all day long. Forcing them to do so will not help them learn. Middle school students cannot learn when they arrive to school earlier than 8:30. Forcing them to do so will not help them learn. Meeting basic health needs (to move and sleep) will help us teach children and young adults.

4. Students of color are disciplined unfairly. We need to work towards finding ways to help these students find success now. We must implement programs that work towards racial equity in more than just 6 schools.

4. We need to address caseloads for ESA employees. The school psychologist who did my daughter’s testing was assigned to five different schools. It took almost six months for her to administer testing. That’s nearly an entire school year waiting to see if my daughter needed an IEP or 504. I advocated for her tirelessly. What about the parents who can’t do that? Our district is already noncompliant for SPED. You need to address the issue of ESA caseloads by hiring more professionals.

We are the people who can make this change. What will you choose? Will you make our district a world class district that can serve the children in our amazing city? Or will you continue with the status quo? I’m confident that we can make our district world class. Let’s do it.

Our family is lucky. We have a choice. We choose public schools. Our friends think we are crazy. Help us prove them wrong.

Hopefully,

Liz Huehnergarth
SPS Parent and Substitute Teacher
Seattle University Educational Administration Student

Dave said...

I'm a parent and I support the teachers, but I think the day of service today is a mistake. While I understand standing around is a waste of everyone's time, I think some strike presence is necessary. I've heard several parents who support the teachers starting to voice some wavering specifically about today. Two days into the strike it seems like it is sending a weird message. I get it and thinking commnunity service is a better use of time than standing around, but when I've said this, more than one parent has said "well, I'd like a day off to pick fruit in the park, too."

I think they need to split up--keep some on the picket and some doing community engagement. But right now, people are interpreting this as a "day off" while parents are struggling.

Anonymous said...

Great letters! And OMG Floorpie, so sad and poignant. Would love to see you talk to the press, if you were willing.

Chris S.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Dave - consider that today is September 11, and if SEA had been picketing at schools, they would have come into a substantial amount of media criticism.

Po3 said...

I think starting next week students, parents and teachers should picket - LOUDLY - at the district headquarters. The national media attention that this would attract would be incredible and I can't imagine staff being able to focus on their work. And picketers could make getting in/out of the parking lot a nightmare. The whole operation would come to a standstill.


Southend Mom said...

I do not think the union is being reasonable with their demands. As others have pointed out, the district simply doesn't have the money to accept their salary proposal. I have read the proposals from both sides (published in SPS district's website) and it is clear the district IS bargaining in good faith. The union is not. The district has increased their offer and come to the union with data about what each proposal costs. The union has not; they are acting like my kids do at Target, throwing stuff in the cart without looking at the price or being part of a grown up discussion about what we can afford. Union members, ask your leadership if they have done any costing for any of this. If so, they haven't reported it anywhere. That is BASIC when negotiating in good faith.

As far as my continued support of teachers, and how I will feel when this is all over, I don't think this will cause me to feel resentful. I blame their union leadership for misleading them. That said, I'm hoping the teachers who boo'd and hissed at the teacher trying to speak against the strike during the strike vote were not from my school. (Didn't hear about that? Only heard that it was unanimous? Well, if I saw my peer hissed at for speaking against the majority in a room of a few thousand people, I may have kept my mouth shut from future dissent also...Ask someone who was there. It sounded disgusting.)

It is time for the public to look past the union's rhetoric and learn the facts. Thankfully, from what I've been reading today, it seems some people are digging deeper and learning the facts.

Dave said...

Would they? Maybe so. I'm just reporting a converssation I had at the park today (where teachers have been diligently picking fruit with the nonprofit City Fruit). I think community engagement every day of the strike would be great--just leaving some folks to walk the picket seems like it would have a good effect. I think some cynical folks think nonprofit work is "easier" than walking the line aall day. I work in an ngo full-time, so I know that is hogwash.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 SPS students and am married to an SEA member. Personally, I have had a bit of a reversal on the strike. Initially, I thought it seemed like an over-the-top, bad-for-kids move. And like MatttheEngineer above, I had my doubts about the District's ability to really meet SEA's financial demands. I still have these doubts, but I am realizing that what compelled the strike is actually much bigger than the sum of the individual issues. I think SEA is trying to push the funding issue at the state level (where it belongs) and get the District to fundamentally reevaluate its priorities. In spite of McCleary, in spite of 1351, in spite of an improving economy, It seems like working conditions in the schools (class sizes, support services, etc.) have continued to degenerate year after year. I don't know why this is the case, but something has to give. I am glad SEA is taking a stand, and feel they are doing so on behalf of ALL the educators and students in this state.

I was an incoming freshman during the 25-day 1985 strike and remember it well. I am starting to fear that we may be looking at a similar long-term situation this time around. This will be a very difficult (and frankly dangerous) time for many children and families. I hope that some meaningful change comes of it and we end up with the schools we deserve.

-SPS Alum and Parent

laurenbaa said...

I am largely on the side of the teachers if only because I do not trust the district to do a single thing both competently and focused on the kids. Seriously. What on earth do they do over at that over-priced building to earn their money?

Having said that, my older son graduated from private school but we chose our very good public school for the younger son since we liked the stellar music program and the rich class offerings. I have to say, I am beginning to regret that.

Already my son has lost music opportunities and is falling more and more behind in his 2 AP classes (and because Seattle schools start so late, AP kids are always at a disadvantage since the tests are in early May.) I think that while the district can and should move toward the SEA on issues like discipline, the SEA is simply asking for too much money.

Also, Seattle has 2 vital levies on the ballot in a mere 5 months and I am wondering if they will pass if this strike drags on. That would be a true disaster since 25% of the school budget comes from these levies.

Lauren
Garfield parent

Anonymous said...

I, too, am getting frustrated by what appears to be non-action in the negotiations, but I support the teachers. I wish that the contract could have been negotiated prior to the deadline, and I feel that the District is primarily at fault for that not happening, due to the last-minute introduction of the extended school day.

I've been an SPS parent for over 10 years now. There has been an obvious decline in teacher/classroom support over that time, whether it be due to overcrowding/increased class sizes, a reduction in IA support, or high caseloads for support workers. I've seen PTA support for staff positions - counselors, playground supervisors, extra librarian time, etc... evolve from being an absolute "no no" to something that is essential for everyday school operations and child safety. Reliance on PTA funding for essential staffing is entirely inequitable and inappropriate.

The State is primarily at fault, for not fully-funding K-12 education, but it has been painful to watch all the upper-level hiring going on at SPS headquarters, when there has been classrooms with 30 kids/class at my son's elementary school, in a grossly over-enrolled building where the heat goes out on a regular basis in the winter, and where the kids are wasting far too much precious instructional time on costly evaluations - the scores of which are not even disclosed on the Source (i.e. Amplfy). SPS needs to re-prioritize, and find the money to better support its teachers and their classrooms.

I also worry that, long-term, SPS will not be able to recruit quality educators, due to the high cost of living in Seattle.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I don't know all the details of this negotiation and the SEA's demands seem reasonable (to me... to my partner, who hasn't seen a raise in years in federal government, and has a 1% COL increase, it doesn't seem that reasonable). But the fact that no negotiation is going on between the district and the union doesn't leave me with warm fuzzy feelings about this strike. I won't be bringing brownies to the picket lines, I guess.

Particularly if the goal of the strike it to force the funding issue at the state level, this is going to be a long strike, and that's going to be bad for my kid in an IB program, because those tests cannot be moved at the end of the year (is that true of AP as well?) So yes this could harm my kids, and it worries me.

Anonymous said...

SEA is doing a lousy job of presenting its side to the media. SPS is managing the media well and turning it into a story all about the greedy teachers. There are more things on the plate to bargain besides a raise. I with the district would take the 30 min increase in day off the table. I think we could quickly enough come to an agreement if the increase in school day was removed by SPS. There are lots of implications in increasing the day. I think this needs to be thought through with a committee of teachers, district staff, and parents at the table.
Teacher Too

Eckstein parent said...

I don't support the teachers. I don't think the teachers even realize that it has come down to just ten dollars a week pay raise. I blame the teachers for being such sheep in doing whatever the union tells them to do.

And what is up with these posters mentioning all the issues that have already been resolved:

"1. Therefore, our teachers need the highest salary in the state." They have it. Seattle is right up there as one of the highest paid districts. The extra money being requested, a 4 percent difference on our 75 percent state salary, amounts to $40 per month, ten dollars per week.

2. "We cannot tie student test scores to teacher evaluations. " The union and district have reached an agreement on this. See the district web-site.

3. "In order to learn, students need adequate recess time and appropriate start times." The district gave the union the 30 minute recess. Reached agreement.

4. "Students of color are disciplined unfairly." District and Union have reached agreement on this. See district web-site.

4. "We need to address caseloads for ESA employees." The district has agreed to cap caseloads.

I don't support teachers strking another week and then another. What will happen--I predict 3 weeks of striking, the district offers another 1 percent, or 2 percent more (so, what, $20 more a month as opposed to $40), the union declares victory, and we all go back to work happy that we now have $30 per month more in our paycheck than we had and mid-winter break and 2 weeks of summer poorer.

Eric B said...

I'm with the teachers, in large part because the district doesn't seem to be negotiating in good faith. I'm not in the room, but dropping an extra 30 minutes of work time with no compensation three weeks before school starts (and after 3 months of negotiating) is unacceptable negotiating behavior. Even if you discount the other issues reported here, that is a clear problem. The district must have known it would be controversial, and they should have brought it up at the beginning of negotiations.

That said, I think SEA is shooting themselves in the foot here. They had the opportunity to take the moral high ground, and I don't think they're doing it very well. For starters, the initial salary ask was unreasonable and was obviously unreasonable. By the time they were going to press, it should have been more reasonable. I would like to see a few things from SEA:

* What are the real salary increases and decreases over the last few years. What is the increase in health insurance premiums? I believe them that teachers went backwards for a few years, but give us the numbers. How does that fit in with wage growth for non-tech-industry professional jobs in Seattle?
* How does the cost of their proposal fit into the district budget. Where is that $37M from the state allocated, and where could it be reallocated? What is the size of the rainy day fund, what is the minimum required by best practice, and do we still need to be contributing?
* How many new positions were created at JSCEE with $100K plus salaries in the last year? I don't want to go after the general raise for admin workers (they get beanie-weenies, too), but the overloading of the top is a question worth raising. The total dollars won't match, but they can use this as a "look where the district priorities are" point.
* How many hours does the average teacher work in a year. If they're over 2080, let's try to put a stake in the heart of the "well, they only work 75% of the year, so they should get 75% of a salary" argument.
* Talk about the issues that are not salary. Every time. Talk caseloads for SpEd and ELL and counselors. Anything to take the focus off of their own money. These are the issues that people can really get behind.
* Get information on your website about the negotiations, what you have asked for, and what the sticking points are. I go to the SEA website and get nothing. When I'm trying to write up something for the PTA, all I have is the district version. Get your message out in your own words!
* Talk about the pay increase in terms of percent per year and not total percent. Even better, talk about the average percent per year since 2008. That brings the number down to something we can support.

kellie said...

It takes two to tango. As I have not been in the negotiations, I can only presume that this is a lot more complicated that the press releases.

Nobody joins the education profession for an opportunity to strike, so I can only presume that there is a lot more at stake on the teachers side.

As far are press releases go, SPS is certainly doing a far better job getting their message out. The new media person is clearly doing a better job of framing the argument. However, that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

It appears that many of the more serious issues have to do with YEAR THREE of the contract. So without any clarity about which side is unwilling to switch from a three year contract to a two year contract, it is hard to point fingers.

Anonymous said...

@ Eric B. Great post!
Hope someone from SEA is reading this thread!

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Eckstein parent said the district has agreed to cap caseloads. Where is this information? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Surprised

Anonymous said...

sleeper,
Where did you learn about a possible March on Tuesday?
-parent new to SPS

Anonymous said...

I have two SPS kids and I generally don't trust the district over my specific school (and in that I seem to be pretty typical - parent climate surveys suggest we like our specific schools fine, but are wary of the district). As such, I support my teachers and I feel badly for them out marching in a circle when I know they want to be doing what they do well - teach. I work from home and I am ready to do what I do when my children are not under foot all day. Some of the things that were most important to me have now been resolved and agreed upon (race/equity, recess, testing). I don't understand the salary issue. Specifically, I don't trust the district's numbers, don't trust the Seattle Time's reporting, and find the SEA's percentages confusing. What I know from my kid's elementary school (Bagley) - one child now at Hamilton - is that many of our veteran teachers no longer live in Seattle and the lure of higher pay or similar pay in cheaper areas (Everett, for instance) is very real. I think that is a disadvantage for SPS and it will continue. I don't think it's enough for us to be in the top pay in the state if we can afford to be the top. However, it isn't clear to me that we can afford to be the top. SEA isn't being clear about that and I don't really trust the district to tell the truth. We live in a one newspaper town - well, plus the Stranger. I'd like to get a clear sense of the numbers. I'm not going to support a strike simply to support someone at SEA's political career. I support the strike to support the teachers for whom I have absolute appreciation. I want to know that my support of them is not about $40 more a month. Bagley parent

Anonymous said...

@Eckstein Parent -

__
The $40/mo difference in SPS and SEA proposals that you and other folks have been quoting is completely inaccurate. You are welcome to support or not support that position of teachers, but please at least accurate #'s when making your decision and talking about your reasoning. I'll repost the same breakdown of $'s here what I posted in another comment:

I'm not sure how you arrived at your $100/month figure or the $40/month figure, but both are significantly off from reality. By all accounts, the union and SPS are off by roughly 4-5% in their proposals over pay increases that will be phased in over the next 3 years. As many folks have mentioned, these increases are all based on the base pay provided from the state. If we assume that the average teacher salary in Seattle is roughly 60k, with 45k of that coming in base salary from the state, then that 4-5% difference represents roughly $2000 per year for the average teacher.
___

A couple of other points: you are correct that there is an agreement on recess. As far as I understand, while SPS and SEA have agreed on a statement about the value of equity teams, they haven't agreed on the specifics of they would work, with SPS arguing for 6 pilot school teams that are primarily concerned with disproportionate discipline and SEA advocating teams in every school that also put a focus on achievement and opportunity gaps. That info comes directly from the district's site. I'm less clear about where things stand on evaluations and caseloads, though my impression from SEA and SPS emails is that they're coming closer to agreement but haven't nailed down specifics.

Math Teacher

From the average teachers' perspective, the district proposal + state COLA adjustment represent a 14% increase in base salary, or raise of $6300 per year, a real raise in salary of 10.5% per year from that original 60k. With the district also proposing a 6.25% increase in school day length, it's easy to see how the districts' proposal feels inadequate to teachers.

Anonymous said...

Great news on those agreements. Thanks for calling that to my attention. -Liz

GarfieldMom said...

Reposting for Anonymous in case it is deleted -- give yourself a name next time!

"I don't know all the details of this negotiation and the SEA's demands seem reasonable (to me... to my partner, who hasn't seen a raise in years in federal government, and has a 1% COL increase, it doesn't seem that reasonable). But the fact that no negotiation is going on between the district and the union doesn't leave me with warm fuzzy feelings about this strike. I won't be bringing brownies to the picket lines, I guess.

Particularly if the goal of the strike it to force the funding issue at the state level, this is going to be a long strike, and that's going to be bad for my kid in an IB program, because those tests cannot be moved at the end of the year (is that true of AP as well?) So yes this could harm my kids, and it worries me."

Anonymous said...

I support the teachers. As a parent of an incoming kindergartener, I am grateful that if the strike is settled in the teachers' favor that my child will be off to a much better school experience than if not. That said, if the strike goes on into next week, the burden of finding and paying for extra childcare is going to take its toll. For our household where both parents work full time jobs with fairly inflexible schedules, this could be very difficult financially & professionally. My child just turned 5 last month. I won't send him to one of the parks and rec camps. It also seems like the ones near us have been full. In addition the school district debited kindergarten fees out of accounts although school is closed. As our school does not charge for kindergarten this did not affect us. The friends I have whom it did impact, now have to pay for additional childcare that was not budgeted for, in addition to the kindergarten charge when to school is available. This is unacceptable.

Tee

Patrick said...

KUOW's coverage bothered me. I sympathize for the parents with no good child care options, but without a strike it's pretty obvious that the teachers would be terribly treated. There are no options that don't involve inconveniencing someone, it's just too bad they're innocent parties.

Starting school a few days late is comparable to a nuclear war? Really?

Anonymous said...

@Eric B

Great questions.

On the health care issue, here are links to documents detailing what SPS employees pay for benefits and what they get:
https://www.instantbenefits.com/control-panel/cgi-bin/files/temp/7757724.pdf
https://www.instantbenefits.com/control-panel/cgi-bin/files/temp/9861337.pdf
https://www.instantbenefits.com/control-panel/cgi-bin/files/temp/2926120.pdf

These are only for the upcoming year, so it doesn't answer your question of change over time, and that's a tough question to answer, as benefits and available plans have also changed from year to year. The state sets the employer contribution level, and that level has remained unchanged for at least the last few years. Speaking personally, the cost of medical plans has gone up for me by roughly 4-8% per year, and I foot the entirety of that cost for my family, as the state hasn't increased their contribution.

The question about average teacher hours per year is a difficult one as well, and I don't know that the data exists. I thought about my own situation, which I think is roughly average compared to other folks in my building. There are many teachers without children who work a truly mind-boggling amount of hours, and one or two older teachers in the school who work closer to the minimum (not the minimum by law, more like the minimum that the school community would find acceptable).

Here are my calculations about my hours:
I work from 7am-5pm every day with no lunch break (I do tutoring during lunch)
37 instructional weeks * 50 hrs/wk = 1850 hours
Between evening and weekends, I do another 6-8 hrs/wk with planning/grading = 259 hours
~ 7 days of training, classroom setup, and classroom cleanup before and after the end of the school year = 56 hours
During winter break, spring break, and 10 weeks of summer, I average 10 hours/wk doing planning and training = 130 hours
I also take college courses every year, but they're not required for professional development, though they're important to me. I won't include them here.

Back of the napkin conservative estimate for the year: 2295.

I'll also just reiterate that I am absolutely average in the building with my hours. Numerous folks in the building easily put in 70-80 hours a week, and I can't imagine being able to do the job on any less than 50 as a bare minimum. And to be fair about it, we should be comparing ourselves to 2000 hours, not 2080, as there aren't many professionals who receive less than 2 weeks of paid leave per year, though like teachers, I'm sure there are plenty who don't take it.

I would love to know the answers to your other questions.

Math Teacher

GarfieldMom said...

Salary IS NOT the only thing left on the table. Caseload caps HAVE NOT been agreed to, according to SPS. SPS has several people working full time on their PR. I doubt the bargaining team has an experienced PR person working full time to spin their side. If you want to know what's going on, you CANNOT rely on SPS to tell you.

Reposting what I said in an earlier thread:

No, there is no agreement on caseload caps, nor on the extended school day and many other issues.

It looks like the idea that SPS has agreed on every issue except pay comes from SPS. Specifically, if you look at this page, you would conclude that that's the only thing left being negotiated.

SPS-SEA Negotiations Summary

But then if you click on the link for Negotiation Proposals, you can see SOME of the actual proposals being discussed and that they are not all resolved:

Negotiation Proposals

You might think those are all the things on the table, but they aren't. There used to be a link on that page to see the status of all the proposals in one easy table. The link has disappeared sometime between the beginning of the week and today. The page is still there, but without a link to it, how would anyone find it? Perhaps SPS doesn't want it easily found because it doesn't fit the false narrative that the only thing SEA is holding out on is salary. Here is that table:

Proposal Status

(I initially found that page because I wanted to confirm whether SPS was really proposing eliminating Creative Approach Schools. The answer is yes.)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hmm, Garfield Mom if that proposal status page is no longer a live link from within the site, it is probably not being updated. I am not sure it is accurate. I am not sure it's inaccurate either, but I would really like answers. I am going to be more depressed if they are farther apart than I thought, but I'd like to know.

-sleeper

Eckstein parent said...

I have tracked my pay increases every year and they have always been a percentage of my take-home so this is how I am figuring the 4 percent difference in dollars.

I arrived at the $40 (this is $40 take home--not gross) by taking 4 percent and multiplying it by the 75 percent salary I am being given a raise on.

You are talking gross raise. I am talking the actual money I am taking home when all is said and done.

The difference is $40.

The district web-site states that they have capped caseloads.

The district also states on their web-site that they are going to pay teachers in the third year for that extra 20 minutes.

I don't know why I feel a need to argue this.

If the district had treated SEA better. If they had met them on time, even catered a nice lunch for them, treated them like Royalty, none of this would have happened.

What we have here is hurt pride. I feel the district people are such incredible idiots. They, also, have not handled this well or professionally.

From this pov, I'm glad we are striking. How dare the district be so flip?

But, I feel like now we have made our stand and the district has obviously corrected for their mistake. Now, SEA has to put on their big boy pants and stop licking their wounds and take this deal.

It is as good as it is going to get. Do we have to drag this out only to take it in 3 weeks?

Anonymous said...

Math Teacher - I was told by other teachers that the increases are not being added to the base pay from the state but to the TRI pay. Using your numbers that means that it's not the 45K that gets the increase, but the 15K of TRI pay that gets the increase. Also, the percentages aren't off by 4-5%. In 2015-16, they are off by 3%, in 2016-17 off by 2.3%. A 5% increase on 15K is preferable to a 2% increase, of course. I like all of Eric B's questions exploring if and how the SEA's salary proposals can be met. A Parent

GarfieldMom said...

sleeper, they have actually made changes to that page since I originally posted! The statement "The documents below reflect the most recent documents not the timeline of the proposals presented. Please see this page for a timeline of when proposals have been introduced." was not there an hour ago. (BTW, there's no link for this timeline they mention. I would really like to see a timeline.)

For now I will suspend my judgment on the removal of the link to this page, as it is possible they removed the link because they are currently revising the page. We'll see. In any case, the link was live just a couple days ago, so it can't be very outdated if, as SPS claims, SEA has not returned to the table.

GarfieldMom said...

Here is what the actual SPS proposal on salary says. I inserted brackets [ ] around the original proposal numbers -- the higher numbers are the current offer. SPS also has posted another document, SPS Article IV, if someone really wants to dig into this. This is from Proposal Status if you want to look at those docs.

e. The Time Responsibility and Incentive Salary Schedule and Index is found in Appendix A and B. Effective September 1, 2015, the TRI increase for the 2015-2016 school year will be an across the board amount of 2.0 percent. This is calculated by adding 2.0 percent of the 2015-2016 regular salary schedule base salary (BA only/Step 1) to the the corresponding cell of TRI Responsibility Contract schedule. This new amount will then be applied to the TRI index found in Appendix B to generate the 2015-2016 TRI Salary Schedule.

f. Effective September 1, 2016, the annual TRI increase will be an additional across the board amount of [2.5] 3.2 percent. This is calculated by adding [2.5] 3.2 percent of the 2016-2017 regular salary schedule base salary (BA only/Step 1) the corresponding cell of TRI Responsibility Contract schedule. This new amount will then be applied to the TRI index found in Appendix B to generate the 2016-2017 TRI Salary Schedule.

g. Effective September 1, 2017, the annual TRI increase will be an additional across the board amount of [2.5] 3.75 percent. This is calculated by adding 2.53.75 percent of the 2017-18 regular salary schedule base salary (BA only/Step 1) to the the corresponding cell of TRI Responsibility Contract schedule. This new amount will then be applied to the TRI index found in Appendix B to generate the 2016-17 TRI Salary Schedule.

Eckstein parent said...

A raise to the TRI pay? Then this is even more aggravating because we are striking over even less money. All this wasted effort and we are talking 3 percent one year (a total of $28 difference per month), off by 2.3 percent the next year (a difference of $19 per month), and 3 percent the third year (again, $28). So, by the third year, we teachers are losing a whopping $75 per month.

Whooped de doo.

I am glad for the posting by Garfield mom. I work at a school with high needs children. Elementary. The district proposal of 10:1:3 is the exact same as SEA proposal of 10:1:3. This is an issue I actually would strike for--we need more support as teachers for our special needs children. But the district and SEA are in agreement in this.

So, the disagreement really is over only $23 per month more.

How extremely frustrating.

Anonymous said...

They have made changes? So they are sending proposals back and forth? Ah, you just mean that statement. I remember that from when they first put it up, FWIW. I know both sides were talking through a mediator. I assumed some progress had been made that way and was just not reflected on a dead link. Maybe not, though. So opaque.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

A couple of things:

- KUOW reported that both its comment line and Facebook page was majority parents in favor of strike.
- Sleeper, don't be too hard on the SEA for making plans. That's what they need to do. There is nothing saying the rally WILL happen but they are making plans.
- Matt, I have some research from the amazing Meg Diaz on where salary money is going (plus the district is sitting on a pretty big reserve of $22M). There is some money in there.
- Tina P. THANKS for all the great suggestions and hashtags
- "Our family is lucky. We have a choice. We choose public schools. Our friends think we are crazy. Help us prove them wrong." Bravo!
- Eckstein parent, I can only say if you believe everything the district says about what has been negotiated.

Good conversation.

laurenbaa said...

EcksteinParent stated above:

"If the district had treated SEA better. If they had met them on time, even catered a nice lunch for them, treated them like Royalty, none of this would have happened"

Yes, that's true and I am definitely getting the idea that the teachers feel dissed by the district. But we're keeping schools closed because of hurt feelings??? Ummm... grow up please.

"But, I feel like now we have made our stand and the district has obviously corrected for their mistake. Now, SEA has to put on their big boy pants and stop licking their wounds and take this deal."

YES, please! From your mouth (keyboard?) to the Union's ear.

Anonymous said...

A Parent-
SEA/SEA have no authority to bargain the amount of base pay that the state pays to teachers. The base pay is fixed by the state. The pay scale is based on years of experience and education.
SEA/SPS bargain the amount of TRI pay that teachers get. TRI pay varies from district to district. Generally speaking, in Seattle state base pay (from the state) is about 75% of a teacher's pay and TRI pay (determined through SEA/SPS negotiation) is about 25% of a teacher's pay. A teacher's total pay is made up of state base pay and TRI pay. Both state base pay and TRI pay are based on years of experience and education. All teachers have had it hard, but teachers who age out after 15 years have really been hurt by the lack of COLAs at the state level.
SEA/SPS are bargaining how much money is going to be added to a teacher's TRI pay. When the district says they want a raise of 3%, they are referring to 3% of the state determined base pay. So in essence, 3% of 75% of a teacher's pay. Whatever that dollar amount turns out to be will be added to a teacher's TRI pay.
It really is confusing.
Helps?

Watching said...

I continue to stand with the teachers and, I'll give them the time to get the services and wrap around services they need for students to be successful. I hope they get the job done.

I remain concerned about district administrators that put the elimination of Creative Approach schools on the chopping-block without public notice.

There are large issues that need to be tackled such as excessive testing.The night before the strike, with the exception of Director Sue Peters, the board voted to give the superintendent the authority to seek an injunction. Not only was this tactic intimidating, but Nyland is holding a bludgeon over the teacher's head and I have to wonder how much will be accomplished.

Vote out McLaren at your first possible chance.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, your comments are an outrage. You are very insulting and disrespectful to those of us in the teaching field. As a teacher, I do not know of any teachers who "waltz in at 8am and leave at 2pm." Most teachers in my building work 10-12 hours per day planning, making phone calls to parents, grading. We give up a weekend day to plan our entire week and we don't have our summers off. In order to keep our jobs and current certification, we need to continue taking classes and attending trainings over the summer. Common core does not do our planning for us, not sure where you got that information. We have not had a cost of living increase in 6 years. Teachers are far from being greedy, we are more than dedicated to serving our children and our families. We do not get paid overtime for all of the additional work that we do. The teachers have the right to be offered a fair contract by SPS.

-Southeast Seattle Teacher

Anonymous said...

@ A Parent

You're incorrect about base pay and TRI, but I see where you've misunderstood. The percentage raises are in reference to base pay, but are added to TRI. For example, a 14% raise (the SPS + state COLA percentage in the current proposal) would be a raise of $6300/yr to someone in Seattle making 60k, but that amount is technically added to TRI, not to base pay (which always just signifies the state's contribution). That person would now make 45k in base pay and rougly 21k in TRI).

You are totally right that if we look at the SPS and SEA proposals for the next 2 years, the difference is 5.3%, so we're talking a difference in of just under $2400/yr in pre-tax income for an average teacher that SPS and SEA are debating.

@Eckstein parent

I am talking gross pay, but your math still doesn't work. Assuming the numbers I just wrote, we're talking a difference of $200/mo in monthly gross pay for an average teacher ($150 for the lowest paid teacher and $280 for the highest) between the SEA and SPS proposals. The highest federal income tax bracket is 40% + 6.2% SSI, meaning that even if you're married to a very wealthy spouse, an average teacher is seeing a difference of $92 a month . Most folks fall into a lower income tax bracket. I make right about the average and fall into the 25% income tax bracket, which is pretty normal for teachers, so I'd see a difference of about $132/mo in take-home pay between the two proposals. I don't believe that you have any malicious intent with that $40 figure that you're throwing around, but please stop using it - it's just not close to accurate.

Math Teacher

GarfieldMom said...

Yeah, sleeper, they were making live changes to that page as I watched. Just the intro statement. Not sure why that language needed massaging.

SciTeacher said...

Do we have any more research on the $37 million allocation? SPS would lose that money if it were not allocated, but it seems the district's publicly stated allocation is very broad and does not talk about the minimum emergency fund.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm going to be nice (only because of all the math) and reprint the last anonymous comment but again, NO anonymous comments. Give yourself a name.

Thank you, Math Teacher and Helps?. I get it now. Yowza - confusing. I was also on another thread with Kellie and she explains things well, too.

Eckstein Parent and Poster at 1:32 - it's for more money than you are calculating. Math Teacher is correct. Also, read this from Kellie on another thread on this blog:

"The remaining negotiation is over a percentage of salary. In other words, they negotiation is over the 75% base salary, not the total salary so using whole percentage is really misleading.

Reasonable people think a 5% raise would look like $2500 on a $50,000 salary. However, the 5% raise is only on $37,500 (75%) and would therefore be a raise of $1875 (3.75%)

"The raise of $1875, $1125 has already been allocated by the State of Washington and the remaining $750 would be coming from Levy funds or discretionary funds.

All this math, makes it clear to me that BOTH, the SEA ask is very reasonable and that SPS can pay for it."

We were talking about whether or not SEA's request is reasonable, but I also think that a raise of $1875/year (5%) is helpful."

Anonymous said...

Total support for the teachers. Things don't change unless someone brings the baseline issues to the forefront. I hope this moves from the local labor agreement to the real issue, which is state funding of education (McCleary, etc.). That is where the goal should be. It is the legislature that is being fined $100k per day because of perpetually kicking this responsibility down the road.

- As Long As It Takes

Anonymous said...

How many families are not being heard because they are working, taking care of kids, etc., and not on Facebook, or able to make soup and walk the picket lines with teachers? Think about it. It's a skewed sample. Okay, the parents posting on Facebook may indicate a strong support for the teachers, but you also have parents that know better than to voice their dissent or simply do not have the time to get involved. How is it acceptable for this to go on any longer? Work.it.out.

GarfieldMom said...

Ah, I take it back. They are changing more on that page than just the intro. They are modifying their links to remove the actual dates of the proposals and counter proposals. The cynical me assumes they are trying to imply that they are at the bargaining table with the latest proposals/counter proposals, and SEA is not. I expect to see a statement today from SPS with some kind of timeline or calendar showing the back and forth of proposals/counter proposals in a way that makes them look like the reasonable ones who are just sitting at the table waiting for the pouting teachers to come back. SEA better be prepared for that. I know they are stating their position is that they aren't coming back until the district puts out something that moves in a direction of mutual agreement (and I agree with them that on many of the topics such as the longer school day, SPS' position is just insulting), but they should be ready to document and explain what exactly they walked away from and why it was so unacceptable they wouldn't even counter it. They can't leave the arena of public opinion to the district.

I have GOT to get off the computer now and do something more productive.

Eckstein mom said...

Okay, thank you anonymous math teacher for doing the math for me. My basic method of just figuring a percent of my take-home check obviously was flawed. This was not taking into account that my take-home includes money taken out for social security, retirement, etc.

So, I wouldn't say I am married to a wealthy person but we do as a family fall into a higher tax bracket. We don't own our home and don't get deductions for that, etc..

So, we are actually arguing over about $100 more a month.

To be honest, that would help a lot. My rent just went up $125, so this definitely would be a cost of living adjustment for me.

I've actually changed my view about all of this. I do support this strike.

I don't know if I support it enough to actually go out and strike, though. I think the actually not showing up to work is strike enough.

I would find it impossibly draining (given the person that I am) to have to spend 6 hours on the pavement talking to my colleagues (small talk) and striking for the next 3 weeks. There's got to be some understanding from SEA that not everyone finds the solidarity, Kumbabya piece easy. I would be drained and then I would not have any way to recharge before I go back into the classroom and I definitely would not be at my top form...

And why are all of my colleagues giving me such a hard time about not showing up to strike. Shouldn't this be a matter of choice? We are not getting paid to strike and all of these strike days will have to be made up out of our vacation days....

Anonymous said...

As a former employee of a school district on the east side, and a current SPS employee, I need some clarification. I remember a while back being told that my previous district had to cut back and was able to cut Admin costs back to something like 4%. I was told on the picket line today that SPS spends one THIRD of their budget on admin costs. I can't believe it's true, but I can totally believe it's true. Does anyone know how much of the SPS budget is spent on admin? Is it possible I'm not comparing apples to apples? I'm horrified that SPS could possibly be spending over 30% of the budget on district office personnel while neighbors can get the job done (including new buildings, maintenance, technology, and regular adoptions of curriculum) with a fraction of that.

-say it ain't so

n said...

Thank you to all the early posters and others who continue to support educators. As the discussion continues, I see so many of the posters from an earlier thread bringing already-refuted claims to this one.

It seems some of you are using the SPS website for your bargaining updates. Here is the SEA website which also shows bargaining updates. Perhaps it will help. Not sure on the pay conundrum but at least you'll have both sides accessible. Scroll down to see the updates. I hope the SEA updates help.

SEA Bargaining Updates

I will continue to remind that TRI depends on whether it applies to additional district-mandated hours or hours already worked outside the normal workday. And thanks to the poster who noted that without COLA senior teachers sit at at a unchanging paycheck. And thanks as well to the note that adding healthcare costs is part of COLA - it took all my increases away.

n said...

@say it ain't so

Yes, I believe it is. SPS admin is getting bigger by the year. That's why I don't understand any citizen not supporting the education of their kids over administrative pay. Also, our superintendent lives in Marysville - I think. So he's not impacted by this at all. He just drives back home with his inflated paycheck.

If I'm wrong about that, I'd like to know.

MatttheEngineer said...

Melissa,
"I have some research from the amazing Meg Diaz on where salary money is going"

Great. Show me the money! Data would really help this discussion. Is the argument that they need to lay off administrators? Ok, I'll buy that. I'll be surprised if that were enough to matter much, but I'm open to it.

And I'm concerned about these reserve funds. It doesn't sound terribly wise to spend something called a "reserve fund", but I don't know details about this.

Watching said...

I've been unable to find $37M in new state funding.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Say it ain't so, it ain't so. BUT, their Administrative costs are much higher (but they try to hide them behind central administration AND central office pots). I'll have more on this soon.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa. I would love to compare costs and point out the waste that happens daily in SPS. I'm also very pleased to hear it's not *as bad* as I was thinking.

-say it ain't so

Anonymous said...

For some reason math teacher’s benefits links didn’t work so I copied some of the data below for Seattleites personal analysis. These are the #s we were mailed last month for the upcoming year’s benefits.

Certificated monthly contribution allowance is $868 (same amount last 5 years)
Classified monthly contribution allowance is $893 (same amount last 5 years)

$12 required towards vision
$96 or $83 required towards dental (plan choice)
Up to about $50 required for Life/long-term disability (earnings based... teachers start at about $15)
Medical (optional - choose an amount below if want medical)
Employee only plans ($460, 482, 523, 505, 616, 687, 995)
Employee + SP/DP ($892, 934, 1014, 1153, 1195, 1306, 1826)
Employee + 1 child ($643, 673, 731, 8311, 861, 893, 1330)
Employee + 2+ children ($643, 673, 731, 861, 1238, 1330)
Employee + SP/DP + 1 child (1037, 1126, 1222, 1389, 1439, 1581, 2189)
Employee + SP/DP + 2+ children (1037, 1126, 1222, 1389, 1439, 1719, 2189)

The options in Seattle are all Group Health except the last # is each row is Premera Plan 2.

Add the amounts above (ex. 12 + 96 + 42 + 1306 = 1449) and then subtract the district contribution listed (certified $868, classified is $893). A sample couple's scenario may mean a monthly benefits payroll deduction of (1449 - 868 = $581). As a middle-aged teacher I choose a slightly better than average plan knowing that enough "stuff" happens most years that I'd pay about the same anyhow in copays/deductibles with a “cheaper” option. FYI, this will be almost $90/month more than last year.

Anybody can run scenarios with the medical options listed above. Families are essentially guaranteed to pay $300+/month for medical insurance even with the basic plan.

Benefits data

Anonymous said...

So I looked up the OPSI budget reports for SPS for 2015-16 year and the BSD one for same period ( from their respective websites).
For purpose of OPSI report the budget is divided into 5 expense "Activity Groups": Teaching,
Teaching Support, School Administration, Other Support Activities, and Central Administration. This is what it reports on the SPS one:

TEACHING – 63.0%,
Teaching includes expenditures for teachers, educational assistants, extracurricular activities, and teaching
supplies.
TEACHING SUPPORT – 9.5%
Teaching support includes librarians, counselors, psychologists, health services, security officers, playground and
lunch supervisors, coaches, and student safety. Also included are textbooks, curriculum, instructional
technology, professional development, assessment, and curriculum development.
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION – 6.1%
School administration includes principals, school office support, and school office supplies.
OTHER SUPPORT SERVICES – 15.5%
Other support services includes the cost of building operations, including grounds, building maintenance,
custodial services, utilities, property management, property and liability insurance, technology services, printing,
mailroom services, procurement, and warehouse services. This group also includes the expenses for school
buses, Metro bus passes, and for the food and operations of the district lunch and breakfast program.
CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION – 5.8%
Central administration includes the Superintendent, Deputy and Assistant Superintendents, and the Board of
Directors. Also included are business and human resource services, communications, legal costs, and the
supervision of the central departments mentioned above in Other Support Activities.

BSD reports:

TEACHING ACTIVITIES – 59.11%

TEACHING SUPPORT – 13.88%

BUILDING ADMINISTRATION (called school admin in SPS) –4.71%

OTHER SUPPORTIVE ACTIVITIES (called other support services in SPS) – 13.8%

CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION – 6.49%

SO Bellevue appears to be actually spending a bit more on the admin side but are doing a vastly better job clearly.

What I can't understand is how we keep seeing evidence of more and more being spent on admin in SPS (new positions, lots of projects etc) and less in the schools ( PTAs having to fund more and more, reduced PCP staffing, higher caseloads etc) and yet the numbers don't seem to reflect what we all perceive to be going on? Is the budget being fudged to hide some of the admin expenses in other categories. I just can't believe SPS is REALLY spending a greater % on the coal face teaching and support activities and less on admin than a well-regarded, successful district like Bellevue with so little to show for it.
Where is the money really going? And if we really are spending equivalent proportions in the various categories why is SPS such a disaster?

lies and statistics?

Eric B said...

Say it ain't so, 33% is way more than I've ever heard. For it to be that high, I think it would have to include things like lunchroom, grounds, custodial services, etc. that are budgeted and handled centrally but are really benefits to the schools. That said, this issue cuts both ways. You'll hear a percentage of central admin costs (I can't remember what it is right now) that does not include a bunch of people that many people here would consider central admin (teaching coaches, probably the SpEd people downtown, etc.) that are not considered admin by the district to get the percentage down.

PS My guess is that there's a 50-50 chance of students going to school Monday. If that doesn't happen, I think it's gonna be long. One of our AP/IB teachers sent out a message before the strike talking about how much time he thought they could lose to a strike before it impacted students. Props to him for including a home phone number for parents to call.

PAH said...

People have said so much of what I'm feeling.

The misinformation and misleading information is flowing. SEA isn't doing a great job of keeping my on their side by clearing up their position and the data. And the District is spinning a deceptive yarn. (The fact that we are all unclear on the facts and numbers in this thread is testament to that)

WHERE IS THE MEDIA???? The media outlets are doing a crappy job of reporting. Instead they are issuing soundbite articles with no depth and no hyperlinks. They are not calling people on their assertions and confirming if they are true or not (who negotiated in good faith? who didn't? explain the numbers, accurately, compare what we have to other major cities etc). NOTHING in depth except maybe the piece in The Stranger about New Jersey in 1976 (and it's only one small piece of the coverage, one angle). Where is the Fourth Estate when you really need them to hold us all accountable?

I'm on the teacher's side, but not unconditionally. I'm on the teacher's side in large part because I'm making assumptions about the numbers (and I'm now doubting with all this back an forth) and because I don't trust the district who has shown incompetence on everything from advanced learning, special ed, capacity planning, underhanded torpedoing of math curriculum decision made by the Board, after school childcare help/flexible use of school spaces especially for working parents. Most of this is the District's own doing and not related to under funding. The mere fact that special ed, recess and equity issues were part of the teacher's proposal and subsequent negotiation is jaw dropping. Outrageous that teachers had to advocate for these basic causes. Causes that have languished under bureaucratic inertia and lack of responsiveness to the community. So my support for SEA is more about my opposition to the District.

Then there is McCleary and the Supreme Court and all that. Which is one of the root causes of this whole situation. And now my blood pressure is rising in profound anger at an incompetent system.

We are Seattle. Home to world renowned companies, disproportionately over-educated people who desire the best for society and this is what we get? We should have the BEST public school education in the country. Instead we are arguing about recess and 20 minutes of extra time 3 years from now.

I don't feel like bringing brownies to the picket lines right now. SEA needs to get to the table and get real. Like others above, they are trying my patience.

Bottom line, my anger doesn't know where to focus and my vision blurred. And it's costing me $750 per week to boot.

PAH/Northend

Anonymous said...

TEXT just received that negotiations will resume Saturday!!! From SEA text.

-say it ain't so

Anonymous said...

YAAAAAAAAAY!! Hope!

-sleeper

Supporter said...

On the topic of teacher hours.

Most teachers I know work at least 10 hours per day. The not so good teachers don't. But the decent to great teachers I believe can't do their job unless they do. That's a full year's work in 10 months.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pete said...

The SEA made their proposals back in May, with an August 24th deadline on a contract that expired on August 31. The district didn't offer a counter-proposal until August 17. They had 3 months to bargain and negotiate, but that's not what they wanted. This strike is what they wanted. And right now they are a little taken aback by the level of parent support the teachers are getting. But it looks like their plan is to gradually make concessions on things that don't cost them anything (like recess) and other low-dollar items, until the strike has gone on for long enough that parents get tired and the district can say, "We gave them all this other stuff, now it's just teacher greed that is keeping your kids out of school."
Remember, teachers routinely work 55+ hours per week and aren't paid for any of those hours above 40. And during the state budget crisis in 2009-10, they voluntarily forfeited contractual raises to accommodate the state and the district. They did that without stipulating that they would be repaid when times got good (like when the district was recently given $40 million in purely discretionary funding).
The district's behavior is outrageous, this strike is what they've wanted from day 1 and anybody who doesn't direct their frustration at the district is being played.
And remember, Supt Larry Nyland was Supt of the Marysville School District in 2005 when they had a 50 days strike. He's not only been down this road before, he paved it.

FACTS said...

Remember to fact check:

"He was hired as the Marysville School District superintendent in summer 2004. The district had experienced a 49-day teacher strike in fall 2003 and enrollment numbers and district budget were suffering. Nyland said he visited with more than 700 people that first summer and set out to work on three different areas for the district: relationships, results and resources.'

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130104/NEWS01/701049951

Anonymous said...

Pete,

Linda Whitehead was the superintendent in Marysville back then. Nyland came in to fix it once she was out.

-say it ain't so

Anonymous said...

The text that came down from SEA says:

"After productive talks with the mediators today, both sides have agreed to resume negotiations Saturday."


Cameo

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa - your Anon repost at 2:17 was me, A Parent - appreciate the repost. Will be sure to double check and put my anon name before pushing publish

A Parent

laurenbaa said...

Supporter says:

"Most teachers I know work at least 10 hours per day. The not so good teachers don't. But the decent to great teachers I believe can't do their job unless they do. That's a full year's work in 10 months."

I feel that part of the problem surrounding understanding of teachers' salaries is encapsulated in this statement. On one hand, teachers are professionals with college degrees (and often masters)and deserve to be treated as such. On the other hand, reliance on the union and arguments like the above work against that. Every professional that I know is salaried and works over 8 hours a day, usually on weekends and only gets 3-5 weeks off a year. Working longer than 8 hours a day doesn't make up for the short school year.

Now, I love teachers, think that teaching is a very difficult job and completely support decent wages for teachers. But much of the eye-rolling vitriol that one finds in other places (say, the Seattle Times comment page) is because SEA can't have it both ways.

Lauren

Anonymous said...

Lauren,
It's so hard to be heard as a teacher. We get all these comments on blogs about how we don't deserve to get paid any more than we are because we have such a cushy job; summers off, start at 8 am end by 2pm and out the door, school vacations, etc. So some teachers try and demonstrate (justify) that we are really working hard and deserve the pay. At the same time, we are professionals. Most professionals work outside of the work day. Most professionals however don't have to negotiate their pay through a union. I'm pro having a union because I don't think we'd get much of anything on our own going up against SPS, but it does put us in this weird spot.
Teacher

n said...

@laurenbaa
Every professional that I know is salaried and works over 8 hours a day, usually on weekends and only gets 3-5 weeks off a year.

With respect, I don't think that is true. Remember the days of bankers and doctors and Wednesday golf games? Every profession is different. The recent Amazon article certainly supports your claim. And there are lots of workers - not just professionals - who do work well beyond the eight-hour day. And those that do generally have a very high profit motive for doing so and bonuses. Each of us has to justify our demands and perhaps the difference in teaching is that it is becoming a pressure-cooker environment where extra hours are not a choice but are absolutely necessary for good teaching. I love teaching and that keeps me in. But the pressure cooker takes its toll and subtracts from good teaching and learning. Perhaps we should make a one-year mandatory teaching service a requirement after college. It would attract and keep people who never intended to become teachers and it would deter many who thought they wished to teach from continuing once they found out how harrowing it can be.

Did you know young adults are now getting $100,000 plus for coding? No college required. The economics of our country are changing. It is hard to put a monetary value on so many occupations these days. Thankfully, Seattle at least has recognized the need for a minimum wage that reflects the the needs of its service workforce - and perhaps that's not enough.

One more thing and someone correct me on this please: I think we are not salaried. Our base pay is based on hourly wages I think. I say this because when I do work extra hours - workshops on employee time - are paid per index which is our hourly amount. We get no OT pay or bonuses. So, we work extra hours by choice. TRI tries to compensate for those extra hours but Seattle ties TRI to mandated extra hours. Not all districts do.

Time off: winter break is used to close out the first trimester of the year and plan for the next. For me, spring break allows me to organize all the accumulation of paperwork and plan for the remaining trimester. Summers start for me about the first of July - teachers in Seattle are not paid for the time they need to close our classrooms for the summer. (Portland teachers get two days for that.) I come back around the second week of August - sometimes the third. It differs year-to-year and as I've become more experienced, I get more time to myself.

A quick comparison: a close friend works for the city. She has no college or special license or special qualifications. She is a clerical worker in payroll. She has earned six weeks of vacation a year. Roughly equivalent to mine. No responsibility, no supervision. A desk job that she does not take home at night. Her yearly is $56,000 plus. I think that is pretty close to a veteran teacher's base pay.

Finally, I'm wondering how many professionals spend six hours a day with twenty-five clients in the room simultaneously attending to the personal needs of each one?

Anonymous said...

n - With respect, who are you say that Laurenbaa is lying about her acquaintances and experiences? It's frustrating to be lectured by the teachers who imagine that they are all martyrs who have some monopoly on long hour and dedicated service. Most professionals who take pride in their work do put in long hours. They have to be engaged with their work while they are on vacation. Most have to do continuing education to maintain their skills and credentials. Some chose professions where there is potential for making lots of money and others chose ones that were less lucrative but provided them meaningful opportunities to serve their community. Most workers income has been stagnant since the recession. Health care costs have been rising for the rest of us too. These issues aren't unique to teaching. The offer to get such a large salary increase over the next two or three years is. So is the ability to have so much time off. You may be a person who chooses to spend your time off prepping for class. But you cannot convince me that getting summer, spring, and winter break off is somehow equivalent to working a full year like most other professions because I have have dear friends who are teachers (great ones at that) who do utilize their vacation. And one of the major reasons they have chosen to work for schools is because getting that time off affords them major quality of life perks that no other field does. More power to them for making that choice. They get benefits, good pay, a retirement program and the ability to do things like be home with their kids during the summer, travel, go on extended backcountry trips. But they have made that choice knowing that their take home pay might not be as high as is could be with other private sector jobs and they value the time they get off more than the money they would make with a year around job. And some of them have taken another job during their time off if they did want to make more money. But I suppose my friends must be lying to me when they talk about this and my eyes must be deceiving me when I witness it because no teacher actually gets any more time off than other professionals...

And yes, you are write, most professionals outside of the teaching profession don't spend their days engaged in class room management. Again, do you really have so much hubris as to think you are in the only profession with a specialized skill set? I am wondering if you know how to intubate a combative trauma victim in the field? Do you think you can will notice if a child in a pool full of a hundred kids has slipped beneath the water within a few seconds? Can you get a crashed server back online to keep a non-profit running? Just about every profession has stressful and difficult to master skills sets that can incredibly honorable when performed. Or do you really think teachers have a monopoly on that too?

Brian Duncan and Liz Huehnergarth - You think SPS teachers need to be the highest paid in the state? I am sure teachers who work for Bellevue, Bainbridge, Mercer Island, Issaquah (do I need to keep going?) and all the other districts in the state where the cost of living is significantly higher all had a really good laugh when they read that. Especially when they remembered that SPS teachers have successfully defended their status of being amongst the lowest in time spent actually providing instruction.

Here is hoping to sanity prevailing this weekend now that the union leadership has finally decided to grace us all with their presence at the bargaining table.
-Northgate Parent

Anonymous said...

Right on, Northgate Parent.

HF

Lynn said...

Eckstein parent,

Are you saying that the district has agreed not to change the lenght of the school in year three in such a way that flipping school start times is not possible? (Your #3)

Anonymous said...

I support the teachers for as long as they stay on strike. IMO, they are striking for a much, much bigger principle and perhaps the symbol of our time as the little guy struggles not to get squashed in America.

I think it's interesting that an early poster suggested that south end parents are starting to waver in support. I'd like to know what he or she bases this statement on. I LIVE in the Rainier Valley and have children at three schools. I don't even know a parent who doesn't support the teachers. I know many who say, "this is hard on us, and we still support the teachers". We have had very poor immigrant communities providing food at our picket lines.

--the other Seattle

GarfieldMom said...

Northgate Parent, what does a "large salary increase over 2-3 years" mean to you (and anyone else who wants to chime in)?

Hypothetically, let's take a teacher with a Master's degree who has been with SPS for ten years. Current total salary is $68K (higher than typical teachers, I think?). What amount above that would say "large salary increase" to you? Let's say over two years, since no one knows what the COLA might be for year 3. Maybe throw in what you think would be too small and just right as well.

This isn't a gotcha, just curious as I'm compiling spreadsheets to compare SPS to SEA proposals. I think I've got it figured out, still double checking my math and formulas. But as I'm looking at numbers I'm wondering if the increases will seem small, just right, or large to the public. No doubt part of how it's perceived will be based on how it's presented, which is of course what both sides are trying to use to their advantage. Neither side, to my knowledge, has provided a really good set of examples of what their proposals actually mean.

Anonymous said...

GarfieldMom - I am working on the assumption that the current offer is in the ballpark of 14% over 3 years. I feel like anything over 10% is better than most of us are realistically hoping for, unless we are part of the 1% or switching to a new job. That's totally subjective. But I think that is what you're asking for.

Here is some data that that seems consistent with most of what I read about wage growth since the recession.
http://www.epi.org/nominal-wage-tracker/

Hoping the people at the table get it done today - Northgate Parent

Anonymous said...

Garfield Mom, if you're putting together a spreadsheet example, please remember to build in the compounding. After year 1, the amount the yr 2 increase will be based in is higher , right? Also, nobody ever mentions the step increases already built into the pay scale.

HF

Anonymous said...

Yesterday was 9/11 and a day of mourning for many folks. It was felt that picketing would be seen as being callous and not respecting those feelings. It felt good to be able to give something back to our communities. As a striking teacher, I am very proud of what my school educators did yesterday. They are back at the bargaining table today and let's hope they come to an agreement, but if they don't we are prepared to strike this entire week, and for as long as it takes to get a fair contract. I trust my SEA leadership to do that.

Striking teacher

Anonymous said...

I was there at that general membership meeting and no one booed or hissed that lone person who initially voiced opposition. And when the vote came, that person did not vote no, as the the entire place was dead silent when asked for nay votes. I have video that reflects this. And as for the district, they have the money. They had a surplus last year. There put too much money into reserves, over and beyond what is required, and this year, they have an extra 40 million from the legislature. They have been hiring staff at the Stanford center like crazy and gave themselves a substantial raise this summer. They have the money and need to spend it on the most important people in all of this, teachers and students. Why is it not an issue that our Supt gets more pay than the Governor, and that all of the many directors and other staffers at Stanford get paid more than 100k a year each (and they keep hiring more and more of them) but it's a problem to pay educators a living wage?
Just Asking

n said...

@Northgate Parent
I am wondering if you know how to intubate a combative trauma victim in the field? Do you think you can will notice if a child in a pool full of a hundred kids has slipped beneath the water within a few seconds? Can you get a crashed server back online to keep a non-profit running?

I'm laughing here at the reactivity of your post. I'm sorry you're so angry with teachers! I left this thread to more recent ones and only now read this. There is more parents angst on this thread than on the more recent ones so I didn't return til now.

Well, I'm not in the health field so no I don't intubate anyone although I did have five serious medical issues in my classroom last year and have administered epipens. Does that count? I'm not a life guard who sits on a chair with the single focus of watching for drowning victims although one of my kids did fall in the classroom as I was intently reading and I didn't notice until she returned form the bathroom dazed and confused at which time we went into emergency mode. As for crashed servers, ask any teacher about classroom tech. We are all expected to be fairly handy with that and all within the daily routine of actually teaching twenty-five diverse clients simultaneously reading, writing, math, tech, social studies, science. I would say we are pretty much jacks-of-all-trades. Have you ever had tech fail when you were relying on it to keep the attention of twenty-five seven-year-olds during a lesson?

union leadership has finally decided to grace us all with their presence at the bargaining table.

As for the above comment, see the recent thread and Elspeth Travani's facebook post. It is awfully easy to get caught up in gossip and rumors and negative emotions easily generated.

Anonymous said...

n- One could just as easily read the same amount of "reactivity" to your posts. Perception is in the mind of the beholder, especially when it comes to emails and the like.

So the only thing you can concede is that maybe EMTs have a skill set that exceeds yours in one area. You have made my point. Expressing delusions that you are in the only field that deals with medical issues and tech fails while serving people and that your skills are equivalent to people who specialize in those areas only serves undermine your position.

Re: the SEA not being at the table. I have read the post you referred to and have seen SEA tweets. SEA was called to the table. SPS made an offer and SEA leadership said that their response is to strike. They took their ball and went home. I hope they are well rested for actually working today after their vacation this week while forcing kids and families to cope with consequences of their tactics.
-Northgate Parent

n said...

Interpret my post any way you like. Of course people with particular skill sets are naturally better at them than those of us who do a little of everything. What's your point?

As for conceding? I'm just responding. I'm sorry you're taking this so personally. But I'll leave it here. I've moved on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am wondering if you know how to intubate a combative trauma victim in the field?"

I'm wondering how many of us have to protect an entire room of children from a gunman as part of our (unwritten) job description. I repeat that in all the time I have documented school shooting, I have never heard of a teacher or staff member leaving the children behind and running from the building.

So beyond the obvious of saving lives by educating education, yes, they may literally be asked to put their lives on the line.

Anonymous said...

and this thread seems to have found its own version of Godwin's Law to close out the discussion....
Np