Teachers, district agree on furloughs

Sequim Gazette

Teachers, students and staff in the Sequim School District will have slightly fewer hours of instruction this school year, but no days were cut from the academic calendar.


Teachers and school district administrators agreed to trimming three full days to half-days and eliminating one day — Jan. 30 — that was initially set aside for staff training; students were not scheduled to come to school.


“I think it turned out pretty well, considering there was a pay cut,” said David Updike, president of Sequim Education Association and psychologist at Sequim High School.


Cuts from state sources trimmed teacher salaries by 1.9 percent, triggering a request by the SEA to the district to consider the furloughs.


“We felt furlough was a better way (to make up for the cuts), as long as we could have furlough that would impact students very little,” Updike said.


Half days include Dec. 21, Jan. 13 and Feb. 16. Each of those dates are scheduled before the beginning of long weekends (winter break, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and Presidents Day weekend).


The agreement also calls for teachers and staff to receive one personal day during the school year.


Some staffers would need to have a substitute fill in at their classrooms, Updike said.


“Teachers are not required to use that; some probably will, some won’t,” Updike said.


The agreement affects those in the association, including most district certified teachers, therapists (occupational, physical, etc.), psychologists and others. Those not affected include non-certificated staff, such as teacher aides, along with administrators, bus drivers, custodians and other support staff.


Updike notes that teachers also received about 1.1 percent in cuts when state legislators cut two Learning Improvement Days from the calendar in previous years.


Unlike the drama that unfolded in Tacoma, where an eight-day teacher strike caused a national stir, Sequim teachers have remained on the job.


Updike said there was no consideration of a strike by Sequim teachers.


The school district did ask for and received a waiver to trim the school year back to 178 days, two short of the state minimum but allowed by appeal.


Updike said the district didn’t have enough time to implement it for this school year, but because the appeal is good for three years, teachers may consider it for 2012-13 or 2013-14.


A proposal from superintendent Bill Bentley earlier this year to add 10 minutes to the school day has been dropped for now, Updike said.


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