I want to take a moment to respond to the budget update email you received yesterday from the district's new CFO, Janea Marking. Whether or not it was the intent of her email, HEA leadership is aware that it landed on many of you as the classic school district management trope: "If you bargain higher salaries, we will have to RIF people." Obviously, we do not believe this to be the case, and are disappointed that HSD is engaging in public messaging like this, rather than letting the bargaining process continue with attention more appropriately focused on the conversations happening at the table.
While we understand that the funding mechanisms and budgeting processes for school districts are changing dramatically, it's important to remember that the Highline School District will be receiving significant new state funding next year and beyond -- and will have a net increase in revenue even when the reduction of local levy funds is factored in. Additionally, we should remember that this increased funding is a result of all our legislative efforts, and is how the state Legislature is coming into compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling on the McCleary lawsuit (which both HEA and HSD supported) mandating the state fully fund basic education.
The Supreme Court specifically called out employee salaries as part of the state's responsibility, along with other educational costs like curricula, supplies and class size/caseload. The HEA Bargaining Team feels a great sense of responsibility to ensure the new state funding is used to allocate professional salaries for educators, as well as reasonable class sizes and caseloads to provide the support our students need to be successful. Yesterday's budget email highlights quite clearly that our bargaining team cannot be successful without your engagement and support of our efforts -- it is critical that we stand united as a membership and insist that the McCleary funds be spent on students and staff, not padding district bank accounts.
Talk with your colleagues. Attend an HEA building meeting or bargaining rally. Stay engaged and informed. Remember -- united we bargain; divided we beg. We intend to bargain, and we will continue to work diligently to represent your voices at the bargaining table.