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"I Haven"t Seen Much Improvement" in Compensation

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Educators have a strong message for their legislators this year: fully fund our public schools, including professional compensation beyond a COLA (cost-of-living adjustment).

“I’m not satisfied. I’ve been sitting at the end of the pay scale for many years and I haven’t seen much improvement,” said Marla Morton, a speech language pathologist in the Evergreen School District near Vancouver. “I’d like to retire with something comfortable.”

Morton and other WEA members visited their legislators in the capital this week. Besides pressing for professional compensation, they stressed the importance of funding the smaller K-12 class sizes mandated by Initiative 1351, which a majority of Washington voters approved in November.

Morton said she has 65 students over the course of a school day.

“That’s a lot of kids,” she said.

Yet, legislators told her they don’t intend to fund the class-size law.

“That was disturbing to me. I don’t think it’s right,” she said. “It bothered me. But it doesn’t seem like it’s bothering them.”

The legislative session started Jan. 12 and is scheduled to end April 26. Now is a good time to read up on school funding, educator compensation and I-1351. Here are materials, statistics, facts and figures you can read, download, print and share:

Update on WEA priority bills

A WEA-backed bill to eliminate high-stakes tests as a graduation requirement will be heard by the House Education Committee Feb. 3 at 1:30 pm. Known as the “delink” legislation, House Bill 1363 is sponsored by Rep. Sam Hunt.

House Bill 1592 and Senate Bill 5559 allows waivers of tuition and services and activities fees for K-12 classified staff when used for coursework relevant to the work assignment. The Senate bill will be heard Feb. 5 at 1:30 pm and the House bill will be hard at 10 am Feb. 6. WEA members will testify.

House Bill 1863 requires colleges to pay bargained increment steps out of local college funds capped at 1.2 percent of full- and part-time faculty salary base. Sponsored by Rep. Chris Reykdal, it’s a WEA priority bill.

Healthy kids

Sara SchaferHighline teacher Sarah Schafer testified this week before a state Senate committee to support “breakfast before the bell” legislation, which gives students the opportunity to start the school day with a healthy meal in the classroom.

“When the students are eating breakfast in the classroom, the teacher sets the tone of the day,” Schafer testified. “I get a chance to build relationships with them while they eat, I can check in on them and make sure their day is going to be positive. The classroom is inviting, calm and productive.”

The bill, House Bill 1295, falls under WEA’s list of legislative priorities, which includes student nutrition.

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Posted in: Professional pay | COLA
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