A long standing court order was recently fulfilled, resulting in additional funding to school districts across the state. As a repercussion, teacher unions and school districts have been debating increased pay for teachers. Negotiations continue in the Deer Park School District.
A court decision known as the McCleary Decision, caused the allocation of more money to education improvement, but did not specifically earmark funds for teacher salaries. Currently, the Deer Park School District has been moving that money to their capital funds for building improvements.
Cheryl Demke, President of the Deer Park Education Association (DPEA) and 18 year teaching veteran, said that recent pay raises have gone directly to covering health insurance or cost of living. Ms. Demke suggested that it is time to “tighten our belts” in order to better compensate teachers. Ms. Demke added that people don’t go into teaching to become rich, but it is important to reward teachers with decent pay.
Superintendent Travis Hanson said that the school district wholeheartedly believes it has offered a fair and competitive contract in the past, and is absolutely committed to continuing to do so. The public is cautioned to be careful with what they are seeing online, hearing on the news, or getting from neighbors, as there are many different dollar amounts floating around that don’t necessarily give the full picture. Ms. Demke agrees that there is some dispute about how much money is actually available.
Ideally, Mr. Hanson would like to see both the DPEA and the Deer Park School District discuss the facts about the money that is available, and work together to find agreement. Currently, the two parties are bargaining for a 1 year contract. Typically they would aim for a 3 year; however, right now there are possible financial changes impacting all of Washington State school districts.
The Deer Park School District desires to be transparent about these negotiations and has made the information available online so you can clearly see the process at https://dpgazette.com/dpsdcollective.