Northwest NEWS

April 19, 1999

Local News

Teachers' walkout might pay

Northshore teachers rallied in Woodinville, Bothell, and Kenmore before heading for Olympia.
Staff photo by Marshall Haley.

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--Woodinville teachers exhuberantly greeted morning commuters from all four corners of NE 175th St. and 131st Ave. NE before filling chartered busses for their advance on legislators in Olympia last Wednesday, April 14. Most motorists honked, yelled, or hand-signaled approval as they passed. No sightings of disapproving hand signals were reported.

   "We want to tell Woodinville how much we appreciate their community support during our demonstration last Wednesday," said Penny Pfiester, president of the Northshore Education Association. "We had a very successful visit to Olympia, and we've heard positive reports about our ongoing requests."

   Superintendant Karen Forys and School Board members B-Z Davis, president, and Jean Fowler, vice-president, met with Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe and Representatives Al O'Brien, Jeanne Edwards, John Lovick, and Ruth Kagi. The school district officials delivered a written list of district concerns they wanted addressed in the new budget, including lack of fair pay for experienced teachers, lack of regular cost-of-living increases, and potential negative impact on the district if teachers' and classified staff salary contracts were de-linked.

   "We had a maintenance and groundsworkers' strike earlier this year, and we don't need a repeat of that," said district spokesperson Dr. Pamela Steele. "Splitting the contracts would give the District real budget problems with salary raises."

   House Democrats have upped the ante from last week's six percent biennium increase proposal. A new plan calls for $532 million "to attract and keep the best and brightest teachers," according to 1st District Democrat Rep. Jeanne Edwards. Under the revised proposal released April 13, salaries would increase 12.2 percent for beginning teachers, 7.9 percent for mid-level teachers, and 10 percent for senior teachers.

   "We have told House Democrats that that's unacceptable," said Pfiester. "It's not equitable to divide teachers into three separate salary groups for doing the same work. The House also proposed adding three paid days to our year for inservice training. We told them to roll that money into our salary and we would talk about adding three days once our salary catches up to what we've already lost to cost-of-living increases."

   Northshore District teachers led the way for Eastside walkouts. Four other districts will walk out Wednesday, April 22. Two others will not walk out, but will each send a representative to Olympia.