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Kent teachers: If pay isn't raised, school may not start on time

KOMO News photo

KENT, Wash. - Teachers at Kent public schools are planning a rally Thursday to demand higher pay. And if they don't get a boost in their paychecks, teachers say, school may not start on time.

The demands and rally come as representatives from the Kent School District are scheduled to meet for a bargaining session with the teachers' union.

The teachers argue that more money is now available for higher salaries after the state Supreme Court ruled last month that the Legislature had finally met a 2012 court order, in the McCleary case, to adequately fund education at public schools.

The teachers say that the ruling is sending more money to districts across the state, and that the extra funding is meant to raise teacher salaries and keep good teachers in the classroom.

Teachers in Kent are already under a contract - but union negotiators with the Kent Education Association say there is language in that deal that says if new money comes from Olympia, the contract is open for negotiation.

Christie Padilla, Kent Education Association says, there could be big problems if teachers' salaries aren't raised.

"There is always the possibility that school will not start on time because of the issue," she said.

Teachers in the Mukilteo School District are in a similar situation. They also believe McCleary money should go to salaries. But as of right now school there are scheduled to start on time.

And there could be other school districts with tentative start dates because of teacher contract negotiations, including Everett, Marysville and Camano Island.

The state Supreme Court ruled in the 2012 McCleary case that the state was not adequately funding public education. But after years of wrangling - and hefty court contempt fines - the Legislature passed a statewide property tax increase this year the court says satisfies the McCleary case requirements.

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