Categorized | Community, Educ., Family, Govt., Misc., News

KSD Strike Continues: Classes Delayed Until Further Notice

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UPDATE–Monday, August 31, 2009, 4:53 pm – School is delayed until further notice. More info on KSD’s website here.

UPDATE–Monday, August 31, 2009, 5:27 am – Today was supposed to be the first day of school for students in the Kent School District, but instead, anxious parents and students are wondering how long the strike will continue.

According to the Kent Education Association’s blog, an agreement had not yet been reached between teachers and the Kent School District, delaying the need for a vote on Sunday, August 30 as planned.  Instead the teachers scheduled a candlelight vigil for Sunday evening in downtown Kent.

Despite reports and rumors that this strike is all  about pay raises, there are greater issues at stake here, including classroom sizes and administrative meetings, both of which reduce the amount of time students and teachers spend together. In a story on the Kent Reporter website, the Kent School District won’t put a cap, or limit, on the number of students per classroom.

Though it is not clear how the two sides will come to an agreement on these and other issues, one thing is clear…picketing resumes on Monday while parents and students wait anxiously for news.

Find more information about the strike here:

Associated Content
Kent School District
Kent Education Association (KEA)
KEA Blog
Kent Reporter

To read a copy of the latest response from the KSD to the KEA about outstanding issues, click here.

This post was written by:

- who has written 992 posts on I Love Kent, Washington.

Dana Neuts is a freelance writer, editor, author, speaker and marketing consultant, based in Kent, Washington. She is currently serving as the national president-elect for the Society of Professional Journalists and will become president in Sept. 2014.

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3 Responses to “KSD Strike Continues: Classes Delayed Until Further Notice”

  1. Dana Neuts says:

    My teenage daughter and I drove through town this morning and saw teachers picketing at the three schools nearest us: Phoenix Academy, Daniel Elementary and Martin Sortun Elementary. At one of the schools, there were only a handful of teachers and they looked angry. At the other two schools, the teachers looked a bit more upbeat, waving their picket signs, waving at passers by, etc. While I am disappointed that the beginning of my daughter’s freshman year will be delayed, I understand the teachers’ position. Let’s hope for a swift and amicable resolution!

  2. Ann Mattson says:

    KEA and KSD negotiations have been ongoing since April 2009. After considering a strike in June of 2009, KEA (Kent Education Association) voted NOT to strike. Instead give the new superintendent an opportunity to meet with KEA’s bargaining team and negotiate a contract. KEA’s agenda, “We will meet with you anytime, anywhere”.

    In the ensuing two (2) months that followed, there was one negotiation meeting between KEA and KSD. KSD (Dr. Vargas) was NOT AVAILABLE.
    Since ending negotiations on Tuesday morning 9/8/09 at 6:00am, KSD is still refusing to meet and negotiate.

    Kent teachers did not just give the district 3 days notice before voting to strike. The Kent school district was more than aware the teacher’s would strike in June 2009 if a tentative contract was not available to be agreed upon.

    Our requests:
    1). Caps on the number of students in each class. Presently, KSD has a cap of 31 students for K-6th grade. Anything over 20 students in K-3rd is just “crowd and behavior control”. Don’t believe me, try teaching for just one hour a 1st grade class with 31 students all by yourself. Especially at the elementary level, how much education is imparted to a student is directly dependent on how much available one-to-one time a teacher has with a student. Education is not just core subjects, but discipline, social behavior, and character instruction.
    KSD has NO caps at the middle school level (7-8) nor the high school level (9-12). Surrounding districts ALL have acceptable caps in all levels of education.
    2). Decreased meetings. Increasing time for students/parents outside of the classroom. Two 1-hour meetings per
    month (all district directed) is not supporting students, parents, or teachers. KEA offered two 1-hour meetings or four 30-minute meetings per month (amounting to the same amount of time) but teacher directed.
    Why? To benefit our students; not just to improve our educational techniques and/or department cross-curriculum planning, but conferencing with the parent(s) and mediating ways to encourage and/or deal with social and/or behavioral issues of a
    student common to several teachers.
    3). Adequate pay. Kent teachers are 19th out of 20 local districts on the Washington pay scale (without the district’s embellishment of adding insurance benefits and sick or discretionary leave pay). KSD has repeatedly been asked to validate their numbers and costs. The chief financial officer for the district has been unable to validate the district’s proposed expenditures. KEA has repeatedly validated in writing their numbers and costs.
    KSD’s superintendent is the highest paid administrator in the STATE of Washington at $240K per year. Add to this his $800/month car allowance, insurance benefits, $10,000/year travel expense, matching retirement contribution, and relocation expenses, and who knows what else. (Considering the loss in market value, are Kent taxpayers paying the sales difference in Dr. Vargas’ CA home when sold?)
    In the last two weeks of August, Dr. Vargas spent over $13,000 in postage and an unknown amount in hiring staff to stuff envelopes. The expense in postage, labor, paper/envelopes could have paid for additional teaching staff and lowered class sizes.

    I am not part of the negotiating team, but I am a former process engineer and presently a teacher in the Kent school district. I have always worked with a contract and I don’t know any professional who does not; and teachers are college educated degreed professionals. Just as the American forefathers defied English taxation, the teachers of Kent will defy the court. We work under a contract, not court rulings. We work for our students and parents and better conditions for teaching; for respect and adequate pay – the superintendent seems to understand the pay part pretty good…

    Hopefully, you will do your homework and have a better idea of what is at stake – other teachers and parents from around the state seem to understand. They came out on Monday to support and share with us. On the news, I have very rarely heard comments from those adults in support of the teachers; I have heard regular comments on the news from those against.

    The teachers DO WANT TO RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM and are disheartened at the district’s continued refusal to meet and negotiate. Stonewalling is not in the best interests of our students or parents or support staff.

    Ann

  3. Ann Mattson says:

    KSD parents and students: Check out KentSchools.org for information directly affecting you. You make the decision on what kind of education you want for yourself and the future students of Kent.

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