Valley teachers threaten to strike

Even as Snoqualmie Valley School District grapples with a budget shortfall from unfunded and underfunded state mandates and rising operation costs, Valley teachers are threatening to strike in September if they aren’t able to negotiate a contract with the school district that meets their demands for pay increases.

Art Galloway, president of the Snoqualmie Education Association, said Valley teachers are the lowest-paid in East King County, and he’s concerned educators will leave to earn thousands more for the same work in neighboring districts.

“All we’re asking for is average pay, and we certainly don’t work an average workload or do an average job of getting kids through the WASL,” Galloway said.

District spokeswoman Carolyn Malcolm stressed that the district values “the great work” of the teachers, but said “inadequate funding from Olympia is placing a lot of pressure and challenges on us as we try to make our budget.”

Also straining the budget is slowing enrollment growth in Valley schools, Malcolm said. She added that the SVSD receives less state funding per student than other area districts.

“Other districts have the ability to fund more because they receive more,” she said.

Galloway said the district could “adjust priorities” to increase teacher compensation.

The union and the district have held informal contract talks since January, and began formal negotiations in March, logging around 40 hours in session.

Both sides said they expected to avoid a strike. As of press time, no bargaining sessions were scheduled.

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