As the Snoqualmie Valley School District prepares to adopt its 2018-19 budget – a budget with an extra $18 million thanks to new state funding required by the State Supreme Court McCleary decision – it looks like the district will be approving that budget without finalizing a new pay schedule with the teachers union.
Snoqualmie Valley Teacher’s Association (SVEA) is entering the third year of a 3-year contract, but is negotiating a new pay schedule that will reflect the funding increase, and could include significant raises for the upcoming school year.
The district and union reportedly had a “positive and productive” negotiations session on June 29th, but more time is needed so talks will continue in mid August. According to a union communications, SVEA hopes to have a tentative pay schedule agreement to share with teachers at its August 23rd general membership meeting.
According to SVSD Public Information Officer Carolyn Malcolm, the budget can be approved while bargaining discussions continue since the budget does have a capacity built-in for a potential settlement with the union.
In a school board budget presentation in early June, Assistant Superintendent Ryan Stokes showed the district having an additional $3 million (a 10% increase) to provide raises for existing teachers and another $3.2 million to hire new teachers to reduce K-3 class size and add math and reading support intervention specialists.
The rest of the new state funding will be put toward staff benefits ($3.2 million); increased MSOC costs ($1.5 million); hiring more classified staff and raises for existing classified staff ($500,000); new curriculum, new Snoqualmie Middle School principal salary and additional substitutes ($1 million). Stokes proposed adding $5 million to the general fund or it could be spent on one-time costs, noting that it could not be spent on recurring costs (like teacher salaries) as that could put the district in the red in future years when it will have less revenue.
How Large will SVSD Teacher Raises Be?
As unions around the state begin negotiating teacher raises, the Washington Education Association (WEA) has called for 15% all teachers next year.
Here at home, SVEA leadership has pointed toward the Lake Washington School District – where a new pay schedule that included 8% – 15% teacher raises was just approved – as an example of a district investing to help retain and attract quality teachers.
Last year starting LWSD teachers made about $51,000 annually compared to approximately $47,000 in SVSD. In the Snoqualmie Valley, the most tenured teachers made about $90,000 compared to about $98,000 in Lake Washington. A portion of the higher LWSD salaries, though, was attributed to a contract requiring an 8-hour work day (SVSD is 7.5 hours) and four additional work days per year.
The new state funding SVSD and LWSD will receive also includes an 18% regionalization factor because both districts are classified as high cost of living areas. But not all of the regionalization funding is new money, as some of it was previously covered by local levies that are now capped and reduced. For instance, in 2017-18 about $15,000 of a starting LWSD teacher’s salary was covered by local levies and $36,500 came from the state. Next year, $48,000 will come from the state and about $7,500 from local levies, bumping LWSD starting teachers to just over $55,000/year – and LWSD teachers with 25+ years of experience will earn $111,000/year.
These [potentially] historic raises for teachers were funded by a significant increase to the state’s education levy, which combined with skyrocketing assessed home values, caused King County property taxes to jump about 17% this year. In some areas of the Snoqualmie Valley the increase was even higher – to the tune of 22%.
The state will be giving homeowners a small, one time property tax decrease next year to help offset some of this year’s sharp increase. Local school levies should also slightly decrease for many King County school districts in 2019. Some predict property taxes could stay elevated due to King County’s continually rising home values and because the state education levy will not be subject to the Eyman property tax initiative that limits annual taxing district increases to 1% until 2022.
The 2018-19 SVSD budget is expected to be adopted at the July 19th school board meeting to be held at Snoqualmie City Hall at 6:30PM.