Board clears path for teacher 'action'

They’re on the same page on this one.

As expected, the Central Kitsap School Board supported a request from employee unions to take the day off Jan. 14 to march on the State Capitol in Olympia.

The teachers, represented by the Central Kitsap Education Association (CKEA), and the support staff, represented by the CK Educational Support Professionals (CKESP), voted recently to march in support of money for teachers, staff and districts — despite a projected $2.5 billion shortfall in the state budget this year.

Now that the School Board has changed the calendar to make Tuesday, Jan. 14 a non-school day and Friday, Jan. 31 a school day, there will be no school-sponsored student activities on Jan. 14. All athletic practices and competitions have been rescheduled.

Local unions see the day as an opportunity for lower-echelon employees to show support for education — something administrators are also doing in their own way.

Washington state is currently experiencing a $2.6 billion budget shortfall. No one at CK School District wants children to suffer because of the shortfall. They said they feel cuts should be made in less important areas of the state budget — that the state’s constitution mandates education as a priority.

CKEA President Christi McCorkle and Sue Watson, CKESP president, formally notified the CK School Board of the local unions’ decision late last month.

The 183-day school-year calendar is a rigid instrument. Teachers offered the board one of several days off in exchange: Jan. 31 (end of semester); March 14 (typically a non-school day); a day during Spring Break; or June 19 (a snow make-up day).

The board voted unanimously to accept Jan. 31 as the new instructional make-up day. Certain parents were not happy, however, and have communicated this to administrators.

“The principals will talk to staff and students about Jan. 31 becoming a work day,” said board president Chris Stokke. He said many families had made plans and reservations for the three-day weekend. Trips in which their children would not be attending school Friday. Stokke said taking kids out of school one day is OK.

The two unions said that as of Nov. 26, 79 locals around the state would participate. The idea, said McCorkle, is to show sheer force of numbers, not meet formally with legislators. She said 35,000 teachers around the state plan to march.

According to Washington Education Association Online, the purpose of the “State Day of Action” is for school employees from across the state to join with parents, school board members, administrators, students and other supporters of education to send a message to lawmakers urging them to preserve quality schools.

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