November 9, 1998
How important is basic education?
There is so much controversy in our district right now about what constitutes "basic education," about what is important for this district, and about what's important for the kids. This letter is being written to inform you of some important facts that the School Board and Jack Ernst don't want you to know.
The people in charge of media contact at the district level are very good and have always put a rosy spin on what is happening in the district.
The truth is this: The people who drive your children to school, who feed your children, who watch out for the safety of your children at recess, who teach your children, who keep the schools clean for your children, who answer the phones and call you when your children are ill, assist the teachers in the classrooms, and much, much more are the ones with the teachers who provide basic education.
These services are not extras. These services are not out of line with the size of our district. These services are essential to your children.
We wipe their tears, tie their shoes and try to help when they've had an argument with their best friends. We are on constant alert protecting your children at school and on buses from strangers. We want your children to feel happy, be safe and secure in order to get the best education.
"We" are your neighbors, parents and community members who want the best for the children attending Riverview Schools. But we, along with your children's teachers, are working without a contract. We were offered a 1% raise during our negotiations. We said, "No thank you."
That is not even high enough to cover our increased medical coverage. Therefore it is not even a cost of living raise.
Mr. Ernst cries poor, says the district just doesn't have the money. The facts are these:
As an employee, I have never seen Dr. Ernst work in the classroom teaching a child, comforting a child or protecting the life of a child.
- Dr. Ernst has had a salary increase of 35% since 1991 bringing his base salary to $92,000 annually.
- Neighboring small districts, such as Snoqualmie Valley have superintendents who make more money than Dr. Ernst ($102,998) but they have enrollments higher than Riverview (Riverview - 3007; Snoqualmie Valley - 4409). These superintendents also operate without an assistant superintendent. Dr. Ernst has always required an assistant superintendent, although his predecessors did not.
- Dr. Ernst has been quoted as saying that we had received a fairly large raise in our last contract. Classified employees are already earning a salary that does not keep up with the rate of inflation.
- The School Board declared the fields issue an emergency which state law requires to run a bond issue in even-numbered years. This is the only legal way they could put the issue before the voters at this time. District employees are working in good faith without contracts, and the fields issue was an emergency?
I have seen my counterparts do this. I have worked for the district longer than Dr. Ernst, and he could pass me in the hall of a school and not even know my name, my job or even who my own children are. I was saddened as I heard another employee in a different position point out that substitutes in her same position make just a little less than an employee with 20 years experience.
We have some very valuable people in this district, people who care about your children enough to become better educated, to gain experience in their field and to put in many, many hours they are not paid for to help children.
The offer of 1% from both Dr. Ernst and the School Board feels like a personal insult to many employees.
It appears that this is not a matter of money, but a matter of priorities. You the voters, residents and parents of this district have a tremendous amount of power and influence.
Please, call the School Board members, write letters and apply whatever pressure and influence you have to let Jack Ernst and the School Board know what is truly important to you, and what your definition of basic education is.
We need your support, your good faith and your help in assisting us in sending our message.
Dr. Ernst and our elected School Board do not think our services are important enough to hear our message. Maybe they'll listen to you.
A concerned parent, community member and district employee