Northshore teachers union pickets at school district headquarters

Members of the Northshore Education Assocation (NSEA) pressed their concerns about ongoing contract negotiations by picketing outside the Northshore School District headquarters Aug. 20.

The teachers union and school district failed to reach a final agreement earlier that day.

Sticking points included class sizes, pay, workload, and library access.

“It’s not our goal to bankrupt the school district,” NSEA President Tim Brittell told picketers at the rally. “The proposals we’ve put on the table will not do that.”

NSEA officials claim the district used excess state funding to increase its reserves instead of adding new teachers.

The district claims this money helped pay for state-mandated pay increases.

“We’re already subsidizing staff salaries by $16 million from out of the local levy dollars,” said Northshore School District spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus. “We’re not allowed to just bank money from the state.”

NSEA members have also asked for increased TRI (time, responsibility, and incentive) pay, lower triggering points for receiving overload pay, and more hours for library assistants.

“We believe the proposal we’re making is one that the school district can afford in order to get students back in the classroom on the first day of school,” said Bothell High librarian Annor Benson.

Negotiations will resume on Aug. 22, with NSEA members expected to either ratify a contract or take a strike vote on Aug. 27.

The 2008-2009 school year is scheduled to begin Sept. 2.

“As long as we’re talking, that’s a good sign,” Stoltzfus said. “We still feel very optimistic because there’s been progress every day.”