School districts must use state funds to increase teacher pay

In 2007, during my first year teaching at Snohomish High School, a lawsuit was filed against the state for its failure to honor its “paramount duty… to make ample provision for the education of all children,” as outlined in Article IX of the Washington State Constitution. While the State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state’s funding of schools was insufficient, it took until June of this year for the Legislature to allocate enough funding for educator salaries to comply with the court’s ruling. After over a decade of litigation and largely stagnant salaries, it appeared that educators would finally see the pay they deserve.

While districts all over the state, including Edmonds, renegotiated salaries due to the additional funds, several Snohomish County districts are reluctant to make any meaningful changes to teacher compensation. The State Supreme Court held the Legislature in contempt until it earmarked these dollars for educator salaries. The intent of the funding is clear.

If our schools want to recruit and retain high quality educators, it is imperative that every district use these funds as they were intended. If surrounding districts will pay 15 percent or more for the same job, there will be an exodus of talented teachers. The impact on our kids, communities and property values would be profound. I encourage you to contact your superintendent and tell them it is time to comply with our constitution and pay their teachers a competitive wage.

Kaci Cowan


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