• Kent teachers rally for better pay

    By: KIRO 7 News Staff

    Updated:

    Kent teachers held a rally demanding higher salaries three weeks before the start of the new school year.

    More than 100 public school teachers and staff lined the streets outside the Kent Education Building rallying for a fair contract and a double digit salary increase. 

    Kent is one of the many school districts across the state renegotiating teacher salaries after the Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary case requiring that the state provide a plan for education funding. The state's plan guaranteed about a billion dollars go toward teachers' wages.

    According the teachers’ union, a strike is not off the table. Union leaders are waiting to hear what happens during a bargaining session Thursday that will address an increase in salary for the educators in the city, which has been an ongoing battle between the union and the district.

    Some unions have already had success at the negotiating table this summer, including Bainbridge Island where teachers will be getting a 21.2 percent salary increase.

    The Kent School District is offering a 3.1 percent raise.

    Teachers say that's a slap in the face because the district has the allocated money from the state and that teachers in neighboring school districts are making more. Kent has been losing teachers to those districts in recent years. 

    "What's really sad is when I see people leaving for completely different professions. Not because they don't love teaching, but because they can't make it work for their families," said kindergarten teacher Layla Jones.

    Teachers from other areas also came out to support their colleagues, including an English teacher from Tacoma, whose school district is also fighting for a raise.

     "I think it needs to change all over the state," said Mount Tahoma High School teacher David Rainbolt.

    Union representatives say currently, more than 300 teaching positions remain open and that school may not start on time without the teachers they need.

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