LETTER: Support staff need livable wages

We are the classified staff of the Vashon Island School District known as the Vashon Employee Support Personnel (VESP). Who are we? We are the paraeducators, campus monitors, office managers, secretaries, athletic secretary, registrars, family advocates, math, reading, behavioral support specialists, health room assistant and ECEAP specialists. We make things run, and we love our jobs.

We have been negotiating with the school district for a contract and for equitable pay since April 2018. Yet, on Aug. 31, 2018, our formal contract ends. That means that we have no new wage settlements.

The board of the Vashon Island School District holds the purse strings. Please understand we have not had a livable wage for a very long time. During the Great Recession, we gave up any raises entirely to help the district. In actuality, now our members are forced to rely on assistance for housing, food, and daily necessities. We are losing longtime, experienced paraeducators who can no longer afford to remain and live on this island. This is a huge loss for the district and the community as we work directly with your children. Moreover, people who have dedicated their lives (10, 20 and 30 years) to working for your district receive what is now token appreciation.

Under the mandate of the McCleary Decision, we believe the legislature provided enough funding for this district to fix our abysmal pay situation. We are asking for your understanding and support in our efforts to this end.

Please support us by sending emails or letters to the VISD board.

Thank you.

— Mary Reeves,

President, VESP

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