Contract negotiations for teacher pay hikes continue as Longview teachers enter their fifth day on strike. There was no word of progress in today’s contract talks, which are being assisted by a state mediator.
The 2012 Supreme Court McCleary decision, which ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic education, is central in the discussion. Here is a point-counterpoint of the two sides’ arguments:
The teachers’ position: The Supreme Court intended the latest $1 billion in McCleary funding to boost teacher and support staff salaries.
The district’s position: Districts have discretion to spend the money on basic education as they see fit. The legislation does not mandate it be used for pay hikes. However, the district is indeed using it for salaries next year: $3 million for faculty raises, $1 million for support staff raises and $2.2 million in benefit increases.
Teachers: The district will have $6 million more in its budget this year, more than enough to support an 11 percent pay raise.
District: That’s unsustainable because local levy caps imposed by McCleary will leave the district facing budget deficits over the next several years.
Teachers: To attract and retain quality teachers, Longview must pay more than other school districts in the county.
District: The district’s current offer pays teachers about $4,700 more than state funding provides for, and makes Longview teachers the highest-paid in the county.