LETTER: District should extend its quest for equity to all employees

In a recent email to the Vashon Island School District (VISD) community, new school superintendent, Dr. Slade McSheehy, outlined the challenges faced by the district in the wake of the McCleary decision to fully fund basic education. He asks that we reach out to our elected officials to advocate for a more equitable formula for distributing funding. Seeking fair funding is a worthy endeavor; at the same time, it is crucial to ensure equity is maintained within the district itself. Vashon Educational Support Personnel (paraeducators, specialists and office staff) have not had a livable hourly wage for a very long time, and it only makes sense that the district would extend its quest for equity to all of its employees.

Under the McCleary decision, the Washington State Legislature allocated $2 billion for educator and support staff salaries for the 2018/19 school year. For VISD that means $2.49 million additional dollars earmarked toward salary increases for teachers and staff. Even given the upcoming levy cap and the loss of some federal grants, we believe there are enough remaining funds, $1.69 million, for the district to fix our unfair pay situation.

Is public education still underfunded in our state and country post-McCleary? Do other districts receive more funding than we do? Yes. But if the superintendent and school board really want us to work together to fight inequity, they should first assure all their employees make a living hourly wage. Remember, we believe the district has $1.69 million additional dollars. These additional funds should be used as they were intended: to provide better pay for all employees, especially the lowest paid among us. We are asking VISD to honor the McCleary promise and show that they value our contributions to the VISD community and our role in educating and caring for the children of this island.

— Elizabeth Parrish

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