News

Board approves pact with teachers

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

The Enumclaw School Board signed off on a three-year agreement with teachers at its regular meeting Sept. 20.

A number of elementary teachers and educational aides appeared at the meeting to voice concerns with the contract, but were not allowed to speak. Earlier in the day, they presented board members with a letter. Their frustration centers on educational aides. Elementary teachers before and after the meeting said classroom aides are instrumental in their teaching and should be valued as more than a pawn in contract negotiations, and the union did not listen to those concerns.

The Enumclaw Education Association, which has 295 members, approved the contract Sept. 3. Of the 61 members choosing to vote, 87 percent approved the contract.

School Board President Nancy Merrill informed those present at the Sept. 20 board meeting the board was not allowed to take comment on a negotiated agreement. She said it would be improper.

"When is the time to talk to the board?" asked longtime Sunrise Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jenny Sue Adams. "Don't you represent us and the community?"

"In this case," Merrill said, "we are agents for the district."

Merrill said the board meeting was an inappropriate time for discussion, and explained the proper channel would be to address the union representative who could bring concerns to the negotiating table. The board does not negotiate the contract, Merrill said, but has district representatives who handle those duties.

"I know it doesn't sound like we're listening," Merrill said, adding a board meeting isn't the correct forum.

Union representatives from the Enumclaw Public School Employee chapter and its state organization were present and introduced themselves to the board.

Classified employees picketed the Enumclaw School Board at its Nov. 17, 2003, meeting. At that time, Enumclaw PSE members addressed the board, asking for a cost-of-living adjustment. The rising cost of health care was also a sticking issue.

The state came through with a 1 percent pay increase for classified employees. The two reached a two-year agreement in March, which was retroactive to September 2003. PSE and the district will begin negotiations again in the near future.

In other business, the board:

€ set sixth-grade camp dates for Oct. 11-15, Oct. 18-22 and Nov. 15-19.

€ waived senior citizen fees. The Enumclaw School District has a tradition of letting senior citizens into school activities and events free of charge.

€ accepted a donation from Wells Fargo Bank, Mountain View District, for $1,250 to be used for school supplies. Wells Fargo makes a donation when an account is opened during specific dates between August and October; a donation of $5,500 from Washington Mutual to the high school music program; a donation of $5,000 from Dave Person to the Keith Person Memorial Scholarship Fund; and a donation of $500 from the Non-Denominational Community Outreach for student scholarship to Sunrise Elementary.

€ accepted the district's Energy Savings Project as complete. The work at various schools is meant to save the district money on its utility bills.

€ canceled outstanding warrants of more than one year in the total of $656.60.

€ approved the part-time, temporary and substitute personnel salary schedule for the school year. Substitute teachers will earn $109 per day, $60 for a half day. Home and hospital tutors will earn $100 a week. Student tutors and employees under the classified employee heading will earn the state's minimum wage and interpreters will earn $18.50 an hour.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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