SEATTLE - In light of ongoing contract negotiations the week before school is supposed to start, KIRO 7 has obtained data showing teacher compensation at Seattle Public Schools falls in the middle to top range of salaries in the area.
Using data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, KIRO 7 found that in the 2012-]13 school year, full-time certified teachers in Seattle made a base average salary of $49,956.
After considering extra stipends for things like coaching sports teams, running music and arts programs, or supervising debate teams, the average total salary becomes $69,690. Some teachers who do not do extra hours activities however, may remain at the base salary.
Using the base and total averages, Seattle falls in fourth place, in a group of 14 districts in the Puget Sound area.
Statewide, Seattle Public Schools falls in eighth place. See the charts below.
Salaries are not currently one of the union’s main issues, but they are concerned with longer, uncompensated hours for elementary school teachers. The Seattle Education Association is also concerned about the way teachers are evaluated in the coming few years.
Teresa Wippel, a Seattle Public Schools spokesperson, said Wednesday that the district does provide competitive pay.
Jonathan Knapp, the president of the Seattle Education Association, said Thursday, “We’ve seen a trend in recent years that as Seattle’s compensation levels have slipped relative to peers, some of our folks just have to look at the bottom line for their families, and say, 'I can do better by my own family if I teach over here, or work over there.' We need to guard against that trend, because well prepared, experienced educators are one of the most powerful things in student achievement.”
Contract negotiations are still underway each day and sometimes go late into the night.
Knapp said that they would be at the bargaining table into the weekend and Labor Day, if necessary. The union votes on a revised contract Tuesday, before the anticipated start of class Wednesday.
Wippel said, “We're doing our best to manage the budget that we have. Negotiations are a give and take process, and we feel like we've been given an awful lot and we hope they'll do the same.”
Knapp said that it’s the overall package they need to agree on all at once, and not individual issues one by one.
In the state of Washington, public employees do not have a legally protected right to strike, but there is also no legal penalty.
School districts can take teachers to court for an injunction, but right now Seattle educators all say they’re negotiating in good faith and hope to start school on Wednesday.