Letter to the Hockinson community 8/21/2018

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Dear Hockinson Community:

I hope you have been enjoying a good summer. We are eagerly anticipating getting our students back on our campuses for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

As you have likely heard, we are still negotiating contracts with our staff. As of Aug. 21, 2018, the district and Hockinson Education Association (HEA)—teacher union—have negotiated tentative agreements for 23 changes requested by the union. However, there remains a considerable difference between the union’s compensation requests and what the district’s budget can afford. We are scheduled to begin mediation Sunday, Aug. 26, with assistance from Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC).

We believe the Hockinson negotiating teams—the district’s as well as HEA’s—have great respect and care for our staff, our students and our community, so we remain hopeful and believe in our collaborative effort to reach an agreement without a work stoppage.

Part of the process: Contract negotiations can take time and quite a lot of effort. This is not unusual. Hockinson and its unions have worked with PERC mediators twice in recent years and in both cases have reached successful contract resolutions.

Also, each of the past two union contracts were ratified by the School Board after the start of the school year—one in October, one in December. In both cases, the school year began on schedule with the existing contract in effect until the new contract was ratified. Once ratified, the new terms took effect retroactively to the beginning of the new contract term.

What are the challenges? Earlier this year, in response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, the Washington Legislature changed the way education is funded. Among these changes is that the state schools tax was increased—bringing in more money for schools statewide.

However, at the same time, the amount districts can collect from local levies was capped. This means beginning in January 2019, Hockinson will lose more than 58 percent—nearly $3 million—of its local levy funding. Also, the state salary funding allocation is now based on a regionalization factor that ranges from 0 to 18 percent. Most districts in Clark County, including Hockinson, are at 6 percent.

For Hockinson, these changes result in a temporary budget increase for the 2018-19 school year, before the levy cap is fully implemented in 2019-20.

In short, the Legislature’s actions earlier this year have created winners and losers statewide, with some districts now able to offer their teachers substantially more than Hockinson’s budget allows and others limited to offering substantially less.

What’s next? Hockinson School District is committed to compensating our teachers as generously as the district is able as long as it is affordable and sustainable to the budget. As we move into the future, we want the citizens of our district to be proud of the efforts of our staff and students, and confident that our district’s administration is a trustworthy steward of community resources.

We are thankful that we live in a place where people are free to speak their minds without fear. We honor and protect that right, and we trust it will serve our district well into the future.

For updates and more information, please visit our Labor Relations web page at https://www.hocksd.org/Content2/labor-relations. If you have additional questions, please email districtcommunication@hocksd.org.


Sandra Yager, Superintendent

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