To the Editor:

My husband and I feel that we were so blessed to get to raise our family in Ellensburg from 1999-2018. There is something really special about a tight-knit community in which teachers, coaches, health care providers, church leaders, businesses, and neighbors are all watching out for the benefit of one another. We are glad our kids got to experience the Ellensburg community growing up.

After graduating from Ellensburg High School, all five of our children have gone on to excel in college — two of our sons are doctors, recent graduates of University of Washington Medical School. My husband and I are convinced that the outstanding teachers, staff, and coaches in the Ellensburg School District played a key role in their successes, inspiring them to excellence and modeling and encouraging integrity and service.

During our time in Ellensburg, my husband and I both went back to college at Central Washington University to become teachers. I had the privilege of teaching English and history at EHS for seven years, learning from the teachers that had had such a powerful influence in the lives of my own children. However, I became discouraged that my financial compensation was significantly less than what my husband earned as a teacher in the Yakima School District. Desiring to pay off our student loan debt, help support our younger children still in college, and save for our retirement, I left the job I loved teaching at EHS to relocate to Vancouver, WA. As a teacher in the Evergreen School District, I earn roughly $20,000 more every year than if I were teaching in Ellensburg.

Ellensburg teachers are significantly underpaid for their important work educating and influencing the next generation. Several outstanding educators have left Ellensburg recently for districts that offer more pay. I urge the Ellensburg community to pressure the new superintendent and the school board to negotiate competitive salaries for school staff in order to retain the excellent educators that make the Ellensburg community so great.

Sally S. Gasper

Vancouver

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