Shoreline School Board Meeting: Teachers do not rule out a strike

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 15, 2015 Shoreline School District School Board Meeting Summary
By Marianne Deal Stephens

On Monday, June 15, the Board Room at Shoreline Center was crowded, with Shoreline School District Teachers occupying most of the chairs. As President Mike Jacobs watched the clock to open the meeting, several teachers signed in to speak during the Community Comment period. 

Consent Agenda: Baseball, Summer School, and Camps

Without discussion, the Board passed a 20-item consent agenda. Most of the items were contracts or routine matters, but a few items are of note. The Board:

  • Awarded a bid for Shorecrest High School Baseball and Softball Field Improvement to Ohno Construction Company. The funds will come from the Capital Projects Fund - 2006 Bond Authorization.
  • Approved the feasibility/ design phase of a project aimed at improving the traffic flow at Meridian Park.
  • Accepted gifts from the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation:  $11,000 for Elementary Summer School, and $14,000 for Secondary Summer School.  Grant funds will be used for tuition assistance.
  • Approved the 2015-16 Calendar.
  • Approved Extended Field Trips:  Shorewood Golf to State; Shorewood and Shorecrest yearbook staff members (1 from Shorewood, 3 from Shorecrest) to Northwest Yearbook Workshop in Tacoma; Shorecrest Cheer Squad to Camp at Central Washington University. 

Financial Update and Enrollment Reports: End-of-the Year Status

As he presented the latest budget update, Director of Finance and Business Mark Spangenberg brought attention to a few characteristics of end of the school year finances. He noted that the district has collected 44.3% of the total 2015 levy amount, which comes in at periodic intervals. In reference to the currently healthy End Fund Balance, Director Spangenberg explained that the balance is largely restricted by mandatory reserves for Workers Comp and other items committed by Board Resolution.

Since employees are paid on a 12-month cycle and revenues do not come in evenly throughout the school year, he expects that the End Fund Balance will drop by $3 million in the next months. View the latest Budget Documents online.

Regarding enrollment, Director Spangenberg pointed out the May 2015 total student head count of 9106 is higher than the May 2014 figure of 8878. The June enrollment report, which had just come in prior to the meeting, has a total of 9085.

The district ends the year just about where it started, with 9142 in September 2014. 

Comments from the Community: Teachers Speak

David Guthrie, President of the Shoreline Education Association (SEA), outlined the teachers’ perspective. On June 11, the SEA membership voted to authorize a strike should the bargaining team does not come to an acceptable agreement. [The SEA and the District are currently bargaining the teachers’ contract.]

Referring to how the School District praises its teachers and touts the quality of education available in Shoreline, Mr. Guthrie said it is “unconscionable that Shoreline teachers are paid less than all teachers in the area”. He brought attention to the national problem of the shrinking middle class and said that a significant pay raise would be “sign of respect” and is the teachers’ due for a job well done. 

Many young teachers described how their initial enthusiasm for working in Shoreline has been tempered by financial realities. Shorecrest High School Social Studies Teacher Brett Vlahovich does not want to leave the district, but might have to as he cannot afford rent in Shoreline.

Molly Boone, a second year teacher at Ridgecrest Elementary and a product of Shoreline Schools, is living her dream now teaching alongside her former teachers. However, most of her paycheck goes to student loans. 

Echo Lake Elementary’s Claire Steadman Hammill, also a graduate of Shoreline Schools, explained that she cannot afford to start a family, and that better compensation would treat the teachers like the professionals they are by matching their dedication and love for the district. 

Veteran teachers, whose pay is higher because of their experience, spoke on similar themes. Syre Elementary Teacher Tom Hayes, who has spent his entire teaching career in Shoreline, described the irony of the teachers working so that students are ready for college yet struggling to get their own kids through college. Mr. Hayes mentioned that this teaching community is “deserving of a generous contract”. 

Salary was not the only complaint.

Lisa Witzel of Ridgecrest Elementary recounted the uncompensated time for serving  on committees. Lori Scobie of Lake Forest Park Elementary mentioned the “time- and soul-consuming evaluation system”, more standardized tests, and high out of pocket costs for medical care. Ruth Jacobsen, who works as a substitute teacher, held up her sticky-noted copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as evidence of her uncompensated time preparing to teach the novel as a long-term substitute. Another teacher mentioned how experienced teachers who mentor new colleagues no longer get an extra stipend for doing so. 

Several other teachers from Shoreline elementary, middle, and high schools echoed Mr. Guthrie and one another. Einstein Teacher Ellen Smith described how the teachers want to be here in Shoreline, but without having to sacrifice $10,000 a year to do so. She and most of the teachers said that they were asking for raises for themselves and for future Shoreline educators. 

Comments from the Community: A Goodbye

Outgoing Shorecrest Principal Pat Hegarty stood before the Board to convey his “deep, deep thanks” for his start in the District 30 years ago, the many mentors had as a young teacher, and the opportunities he has had here as a teacher and principal. On July 1, he will start a new career in another district. 

Board Reports: the 2015-16 School Year Concludes

The meeting was held with Shorecrest and Shorewood Commencement fresh in the minds of the Board Members, who helped hand out diplomas during the ceremonies on June 14. Most members also attended senior last day events at the high schools. Debi Ehrlichman and Richard Potter praised this year’s Cain Laida, the moving up ceremony for seniors at Shorecrest.  

The Board adjourned for a closed Executive Session to discuss bargaining issues. 

See the Shoreline School Board site for agendas, minutes, and meeting schedules.


Anonymous,  June 23, 2015 at 9:52 PM  

Our teachers SHOULD be paid as much as surrounding districts. Shame on the school board and administration. Where do our high taxes go?

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