Mukilteo teachers return to pack school board meeting

They numbered about 100 and spoke for an hour about their call to renegotiate their contract.

MUKILTEO — Teachers remain determined to bring the Mukilteo School Board to the bargaining table to renegotiate their contract.

Once again, teachers and supporters packed the school board meeting. They numbered roughly 100 and spoke for about an hour.

Through impassioned speeches, teachers, parents and current and former students urged the board Tuesday night to pay the teachers and staff more.

Board members listened, but did not comment.

The tension is a product of actions taken by state lawmakers in response to the landmark school funding lawsuit known as McCleary.

In the court case, the Supreme Court agreed with a coalition of parents, teachers and school districts that the state was not providing ample funds to run the public school system and pay its employees. As a result, districts relied on local voter-approved tax levies to cover costs and pay competitive wages.

Since the 2012 decision, lawmakers have boosted state funding for schools by roughly $9 billion, including $1 billion this year and $1 billion last year for educator salaries.

The Mukilteo Education Association, which represents teachers, sent district leaders a formal demand to bargain in April. It wants to revise its contract, which runs through August 2019, to secure some of the additional state dollars for salaries.

District leaders and school board members rejected the demand to bargain. They’ve offered to “meet and confer” on potential adjustments to terms and conditions of the contract. They’ve said lawmakers did not intend to impair existing contracts when they added funding and made other changes earlier this year.

Dana Wiebe, the union president, said the union was not willing to risk a “meet and confer.” Wiebe said in the past the board has broken agreements made during these discussions.

“We want the legal protection formal negotiations bring,” Wiebe said.

Wiebe said she’s baffled the board won’t reopen the contract to renegotiate salaries, when they did over insurance rates.

Teachers at Mariner High School are continuing to conduct informational pickets every day on their lunch break.

The union plans to hold a general membership meeting June 11 to discussion the situation and other possible actions.

Around the state, most districts are negotiating on these issues as part of new collective bargaining agreements with their teachers because their current contracts expire Aug. 31. Mukilteo is one of the few districts with a multi-year contract that does not expire until 2019.

Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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