Issue of teacher salaries prompts rally on Thursday

PORT ANGELES — Members of the Port Angeles Education Association, a group made up of Port Angeles School District’s certificated staff, are preparing to rally at Veterans Memorial Park on Thursday.

The rally will start at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park, 217 S. Lincoln St. Attendees will then march at to the PASD central services building, 216 E. Fourth St., at 5 p.m.

The Port Angeles School Board will have a budget work session that starts at 5:30 p.m. and a regular meeting at 7 p.m.

The goal of the rally is to send a message to administrators that the $2.3 million increase the state provided the district for certificated staff should go to the certificated staff, said Eric Pickens, a first-grade teacher and president of PAEA. Certificated staff are those with teaching, counseling or nursing certificates.

“It’s really about the McCleary funding not being passed on to educators,” Pickens said. “We’re expecting a pretty large turnout.”

The 2012 McCleary decision by the state Supreme Court found that the state had violated its constitution by underfunding K-12 schools.

The decision forced lawmakers to pour billions of dollars into the K-12 school system.

Said David Knechtel, the district’s director of finance and business operations: “We’re all in agreement we’re getting more money, but our expenditures are more.”

Next year the district will see net revenue increases of about $3.26 million, after accounting for a $6.4 million boost in state funding, a $200,000 loss in federal funding and about a $3 million drop in levy funding.

The district has said that it does not fit well into the state’s “proto-typical model” and that much of the funding is earmarked.

Knechtel said he was unable to confirm that the $2.3 million increase to certificated staff was accurate, but said “there’s a good chance” that it is.

Pickens said he expects more than 200 teachers and their supporters to join in the rally, including some from other parts of the state.

He said Kim Mead, president of the Washington Education Association, also is expected to attend.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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