KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Teachers in the Kennewick School District are fighting for raises, and say they aren't happy with the District's response.
“They have the money, they just don't have the will to pay the teachers,” said Janet Bell, president of the Kennewick Education Association (KEA).
A bargaining meeting Monday turned awry when KEA members said the school district told them they wouldn't negotiate higher teacher salaries.
“They're making the choice,” Bell said. “And it is a choice, not to honor what the legislature had planned for this money, and to not pay the teachers in this district.”
Bell is talking about money the state legislature is now allocating to districts for teacher pay.
“It's going to have long-term consequences they aren't thinking about,” she said.
The Kennewick School District said they don't have to negotiate raises until the end of their contract, which is more than a year away.
“It's very short-sighted of our administration to decide that they don't need to give a raise,” Bell said.
Bell believes the district will have a harder time keeping or recruiting good teachers if they won't negotiate.
“Our business manager just said, ‘if they want to jump the river into another district, let them jump.’ Which was a real slap in the face,” Bell said.
But she said they already have a teacher shortage, and this could make it worse.
“It's going to be disastrous. People will leave this district if there's better pay.”
Bell said even though their contract isn't up, it says they can renegotiate any time if it's affected by legislation.
“I hope they will see reason and rethink their position,” she said.
District leaders said:
“The KSD is committed to working with the KEA on an appropriate cost of living adjustment for 2018-19, and looks forward to negotiating a new contract next spring to replace the current contract that expires in August of 2019.”
“There's very little trust at this point, that they're going to do the right thing,” Bell said
Members of the KEA will be picketing and rallying outside Lampson Stadium on May 29, at 4 p.m.