Frustration level growing

The South Kitsap School District has failed to reach a reasonable agreement with the teachers of our community. They are now posting the most recent bargaining proposals of each party. The South Kitsap Education Association—your teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other educators — welcomes this public airing of the facts. We think it will help clarify which proposal is most beneficial for students.

Last spring, the district axed 10% (57) of all teaching positions, despite a projected enrollment drop of only 125 students. This step will make class sizes soar, reduce the variety of courses available to students, and diminish the amount of attention teachers can give to each child. It will also simply create an unsafe learning environment for our students.

Since making these draconian cuts, the district has received an increase in revenue from the state to the tune of $4.8M and another $1.8M in additional levy thanks to the commitment of the community to their children’s education. This influx of new money did not cause the district to significantly restore teaching positions or return to the class sizes in place before the giant staff cut.

The SKEA has been fighting hard at the bargaining table to restore enough teaching positions to maintain last year’s class sizes. In sharp contrast, the district has been resisting the reduction of class sizes. The Association is proposing “hard caps” that put a definite limit on the number of kids who can be crammed into a classroom. There is currently NO LIMIT to the number of children packed into a class. The district refuses to place any limit on the number of students shoved into a room. Their proposal offers a miniscule amount of overload pay at a slightly earlier point but that is not the issue. The issue is class size. Overload pay can be used to limit class sizes but not in its current iteration. See below for more information on overload.

The district is also dealing with its bad staffing decision by putting two elementary grade levels of kids into a single classroom. This is called a multi-grade “split.” The Association knows that it is difficult the meet the needs of two different grade levels at the same time in the same room and in a full range of subjects. The Association has proposed the quick phase out of the use of “splits” but the district is dragging its feet.

Don’t be fooled. Our children’s teachers do not want more overload pay. They want reasonable class sizes so they can give each student their best effort. The teachers also want to teach a single grade level of students in any one classroom. This is why the Association is proposing the eliminations of “splits,” and placing hard caps on how many students can be crammed into our students’ classes. Overload pay can serve as a disincentive for the district to continue to add student after student, but currently it is so low that it is not pushing the district to do what really needs doing – to create adequate and safe class sizes. Read older posts for more details.

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