"No walkout planned, but Olympia upsets teachersBudgets ignore voter mandates, educators say."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:45 PM
"Bainbridge teachers and their peers statewide have decided not to strike - for now.While teachers don't feel this is the time to strike, the result of the survey indicated a strong interest in local (action), said Rick Wood of the Washington Education Association, after polling of WEA members last week.Teachers are protesting the governor's proposed budget, which will not fully fund proposition I-732, passed by Washington state voters last November to give school employees a cost-of-living raise. Under the governor's proposal, districts would be left to pay cost-of-living and benefit increases for employees whose salaries are underwritten by local levies rather than the state. Bainbridge officials say that would make an estimated $600,000 in I-728 funding - also approved by voters statewide, and supposed to be used to bolster Bainbridge school programs and lower class size - tied up in maintaining the status quo. Wood listed one-day walkouts as a possibility being seriously considered by the Seattle school district.Wood said it is more likely that other districts' teachers would elect to do after-school or Saturday events directed at individual legislators, rather than walk out.WEA affiliate Bainbridge Island Education Association met Monday evening to discuss how Bainbridge teachers might respond, co-president Patty Schlosser said.We're all feeling frustrated and disheartened with Olympia, Schlosser said. The intent of 732 and 728 was to put money into education. Now, with the variety of budgets being proposed, we are, like many school districts, actually looking at reduced operating funds.We've decided not to strike, given how close we are to the end of the legislative session.Said Wood: We want to put pressure on the legislators among the people who elected them. The people passed I-728 and I-732 by an overwhelming majority.We want to make sure the legislators understand the will of the people who elected them. Schlosser agreed, noting that representatives from all the Bainbridge schools will soon meet with the island's Parent Teacher Organizations as a first step to getting the message out.We feel we've always had good local support, both for teachers and the educational system as a whole, Schlosser said. Now we feel legislators need to hear from those parents. "