The head of the union that represents teachers and other school district employees in ongoing contract negotiations said a message sent earlier today to the community from Tacoma Schools Superintendent Art Jarvis that talks about the union request for a salary increase is misleading.
“They are trying to portray us as greedy,” said Andy Coons, president of the Tacoma Education Association. He acknowledged that the union did ask for a 1-percent pay increase – but he said that was after the school district asked teachers to take a 1.9-percent pay cut.
The state cut funding for teacher salaries by 1.9 percent, and left it up to local school districts to bargain the issue.
Coons says the district would like to see Tacoma spend more from its reserve funds to offset the state cut. That’s what’s been done in the Bethel School District and in some other districts.
Others, including the Peninsula District, will ask teachers to absorb the cut, but will also require them to work fewer days.
Coons says salary isn’t the union’s top issue. He said his members are more concerned about the school district’s request that class size increase by two students.
“Overcrowded classrooms hurt kids,” he says.
Teachers plan to meet Monday. Coons says he would like to have a tentative agreement to present to them.