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Teacher paychecks in limbo thanks to lawmakers

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PORT ORCHARD — School employees across the state could pay the price if the legislature doesn’t pass a budget.

Their July and August paychecks could be held up and the news is even worse for those in South Kitsap where layoffs are already coming. There’s even talk of a potential strike.

“We are going to have challenges making payroll,” said South Kitsap School District Interim Superintendent Beverly Cheney. “We will have to indeed borrow funds to make payroll in July.”

Budget Stalemate Threatens Teacher PayBut South Kitsap isn’t alone, nearly 1/3 of districts across Washington are facing the same crisis.

“There’s about over 110 school districts that don’t have the cash reserves to cover their payroll,” said Randy Dorn, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “That becomes a major issue.”

It’s all because lawmakers in Olympia haven’t been able to agree on a budget and the July 1st deadline is only weeks away.

“Basically it takes us about $6.2Million to make payroll each month, and at this point in time we’ve got about half of that in cash flow,” said Cheney.

But South Kitsap is facing even bigger problems. The district said it needs to cut 61 teaching positions to stay in the black.

It’s a double whammy for educators in the west sound.

“It’s very disheartening because I see these people that work so hard and I’m thinking, don’t these people have a clue how hard you work?” said school Volunteer Sandi McDonald.

McDonald volunteers at several schools in South Kitsap and she sees the frustration all around.

“They’re getting kicked in the gizzard,” said McDonald. “There’s nothing they can do about it.”

The union says enough is enough – they held a “no-confidence” vote against the district’s chief financial officer and have said they don’t believe teachers need to lose their jobs to balance the books.

But while everyone gets ready for summer break, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what happens next.

And the Dorn isn’t sure if there’s anything he can do to make sure everybody gets paid next month.

“We have a lot of questions on whether we have the authority to appropriate the money,” said Dorn.

The South Kitsap Education Association will either ratify a new contract with the district or consider a strike vote at their August 26th meeting.

The district says it’s confident it won’t come to a strike but if no one’s getting paid at that point, it’s hard to say which way it’ll go.

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  • yeah...

    Thank god the politicians at least get paid extra for not creating a working budget… Who cares about paying the teachers when you can call special sessions to line your own pockets!!!

  • Concern for all

    It's not just about teacher pay. You seem to constantly forget or not care about the other 40% of the people that it takes to care for, supervise, feed, guide, and educate our kids. Why only concern over teachers not getting paid. How about concern for the para educators, custodians, food service workers, secretaries, nurses, fiscal and payroll staff, maintenance and groundskeepers, technology staff, social workers, language interpreters, brailists, security staff, just to name a few, who are also school district employees that are paid a fraction of what the teachers are paid that may not get paid. There is more to education than just the person who delivers the instruction.

    • Just saying

      Ok that's fine, so let the others teach the students and see how far that gets you. Let's not lose sight of the fact that it is the government that is still getting paid even though they can't do their own jobs. Teachers have to deal with paying back huge loans that were spent earning their degree, also not getting paid enough for the real 12 hours days of putting together lesson plans, implementing said lesson plans, changing those lesson plans to accommodate the disruptions that can, will, and have happened in the classroom. Then these very same teachers have to make time to come in early and or stay later to help out the students that are asking for help and the students that are being forced by their parents to come in and make an attempt to look like they care. Oh, yeah lets not forget that on top of working 10 – 12 hour days and only being paid for 7.5 hours teachers have to continue to become highly qualified. In case you don't know about this what that means is that teachers need to continue to educate themselves at their own expenses. There is no financial aid given to teachers (considered graduates), so with our meager sums teachers have to figure out how to 1) provide for our families 2) pay for classroom expenses (paper, pencils, etc…) 3) continue their education so that they can properly teach the very students they see everyday. So when you open your mouth and say that all they do is deliver instructions maybe you should know your facts as to what teachers actually do and go through to just "DELIVER THE INSTRUCTION", as you so eloquently put it. By the way pay attention to my comment about the government that is where your irritation needs to be aimed at NOT the teachers. Thank You!!

    • True but...

      I definitely understand your concern, as I'm a para myself. But majority of the support staff is paid an hourly wage, and since we typically don't work in July and August, they don't have to worry about paying us for those months. Teachers however are salaried and typically have their pay adjusted so they can receive a paycheck during the summer months. And that's where the problem is, these people already put in the "honest day's work" but the legislature is doing little to allow them to receive an "honest day's pay" for it, because it has little direct effect to them. Also, the support staff doesn't have a union, and teachers do, hence they tend to be heard a little more.