Dear Editor:

I am disturbed by the current state of relations between our School Superintendent, the school board, and the teachers they are meant to serve.

Recently our school district has lost two principals, an award-winning band director, a winning football coach, and many, many good teachers — I knew several of these people personally, and I knew how much they loved and how well they served our Ellensburg community. Good teachers and administrators leave their jobs for two reasons only: they aren't paid enough, and/or they feel disrespected by the school board and administration.

Last year our teachers accepted a unsatisfactory contract because they were promised that they would be “treated fairly” once the legislature acted. The legislature did act, and raised the levy limits, but teachers are being offered only a token amount of the money now available. Nearby districts are offering 8-20 percent more in salaries than our district pays, and good teachers are reluctantly transferring out in order to take better care of their families.

The district currently has 17% of funds in their reserves, which they claim to be holding for a “rainy day” emergency. This is far more than the 3 to 5% recommended, and the 6-8% most districts desire. This money is intended for teachers, and ultimately to serve children, not to be used as a bank. So far, the district is refusing to negotiate in good faith. Their refusal to do so will result in more quality employees leaving for greener pastures, and ultimately in less services to Ellensburg school children. If our teachers go out on strike, I will support them. It is time for the district — the Superintendent and school board — to quit acting like corporate raiders and to serve the people they are supposed to serve: the teachers and school children of our community.

Mel Goudge

Ellensburg

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