SNOQUALMIE — It was the news for which parent Kim baker had been hoping.
That teachers and the district finally came to an agreement and kids will be back in the classroom, rather than having teachers out on strike.
“I think that’s great because all students deserve the right to have an education. It’s great. I wish they hadn’t waited till the last minute, would have been nice to have done this before. I mean if they don’t have kids in the building, they don’t have paychecks,” parent Kim Baker said.
The district, last week, agreed to teachers’ demands for higher pay, offering a six percent increase over three years, but the final sticking point that brought negotiators to the brink of a strike was elementary classroom size.
Teachers wanted a cap because say they believe a smaller class size is better for students and more conducive for learning.
“I’ve had class sizes that were 22 and I’ve had class sizes that were 30 and when it’s 22 students I can reach all of my kids’ needs. When it’s 30 it’s very difficult to do so,” teacher Cassie McLellan said.
In the end the district offered to put caps on elementary class size and triggers that would increase teacher pay for oversize classrooms.
In the end 59 percent of teachers said yes and the contract was approved.
“It feels really good. I’m looking forward to being with my kids tomorrow,” teacher L.K. Henley said.
The district admits smaller classes cost more money.
So now with a new contract in place the focus for the district will turn to how to pay for it.
“The agreement that we reached was a stretch and we will need to look at our budgeting priorities over the next three years to make some adjustments to make this happen,” Snoqualmie Valley School District spokesperson Carolyn Malcolm said.
Clearly, with what amounts to a 60/40 vote, not everyone was happy and most believe the legislature needs to do more to address class sizes.
Although approved by the teachers the deal still has to be approved by the Snoqualmie Valley School Board, but that is said to be pretty much a formality.