by: Gary Horcher Updated:SNOQUALMIE, Wash. —
Parents of students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District are being urged to come up with a “plan B”, in case a teachers’ strike delays the start of school on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Snoqualmie Valley teachers will gather to vote on a new contract proposal Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. They overwhelmingly rejected the last contract offer over two issues: pay, and class sizes. If teachers reject the latest offer, they could vote to strike immediately. Snoqualmie Valley teachers have not received a cost-of-living raise in six years.
Snoqualmie Valley district spokesperson Carolyn Malcom says the district negotiators are doing everything they can to come up with solutions. “I’m confident this will be settled,” Malcom said. “We are operating with tight budget constraints.” Malcom says the fast-growing district offered teachers a one-percent raise in each of the next two years, and a two-percent raise in the third year. The district is also offering teachers more money for teaching over-sized classes.
Teachers’ Union President Lisa Radmer says the offer is not acceptable. “They want quality in their classroom,” said Radmer. They don't want extra money in their pocket, they want to be able to give the students the attention they need."
Radmer would not predict the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. She did indicate the district could increase the wage offer, and lower class sizes, while still staying fiscally responsible.
“It's all priorities. If your priority is students and classrooms and quality teachers staying in our district, then it will happen,” she said.
Some parents were just finding out about the contract dispute Monday night. “This is a surprise to us,” said Mark Reimann, who was taking his Kindergarten-aged son Corey to Snoqualmie Elementary to see his class roster. “We’d have to make fast arrangements for Corey,” said Reimann. “We can’t just call work and say stop everything, we’ve got a problem.”