The Seattle Education Association, the union representing around 6,000 teachers and educators in the Seattle Public School system announced over the weekend it has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.
In its latest bargaining update, the SEA team said it was moving toward a tentative agreement focused around racial equity and fair compensation.
SPS, In its most recent bargaining update, meanwhile, called educator salary increases “important” but any increase “must be balanced with spending within our means.”
A deal would follow last year’s one-year contract agreement that set the stage for a possible labor showdown this year as state funding for education shifted after a $45.4 million budget surplus in the 2018-2019 school year. Seattle voters agreed to replace two expiring levies with a new tax that will raise around $250 million to buttress state funding.
Seattle Public Schools says its reserve fund has been a subject of discussion during the negotiations for the new contract.
There have been questions about our reserve fund. Currently we project we will have $136 million in our beginning fund balance for school year 19-2020, of which about $30 million is set aside for our rainy day fund which is 3% of our total expenditures. A 3% fund reserve is recommended by the state. A lot of our fund balance is restricted, for example grants, which can only be used for specific activities and is not available for bargaining. About $60 million of the reserve fund is planned to be spent down over the next few years. The district has been very disciplined and responsible about managing spending. Some of the reserve will be used to address projected shortfalls over the next three years. We have and will be spending most of these funds on staff salaries, students and programming, and addressing unfunded mandates from the state like the new medical insurance changes. We are working hard to balance costs that we can maintain over time without overspending and cutting critical services to students. It is our responsibility to provide families with certainty and stability when it comes to the excellent education we provide for their children. We must take the long view.
The first day of school is scheduled for September 4th.
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