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    Bargaining and Budget Update August 21
    Posted on 08/21/2019
    Graphic with text 2019 Budget and Bargaining Update and district logo

    Budget and Bargaining Update

    We are committed to paying competitive salaries, and in fact our paraeducators are the highest paid in the state. Starting salary for a Seattle Public Schools first-year teacher with a master’s degree is $69,800 for a 185-day school year. Last year, we were proud to provide a 10.5% increase for all SEA staff including teachers and classified staff.

    Educator salary increases are important, our staff are the backbone of Seattle Public Schools (SPS), but any increase must be balanced with spending within our means. Eighty-five percent of our budget is dedicated to salaries and staff benefits. Both SPS and the SEA want competitive salaries for all of our staff. Since the new K-12 funding formula was implemented in 2018, we have not yet bargained with some of our other employee labor groups. These groups have staff that are among our lowest paid, and as SEA emphasized, it’s expensive to live in Seattle which makes providing competitive wages for all SPS employees critical.

    There have been questions about our reserve fund. Currently we project we will have $136 million in our beginning fund balance for school year 19-2020, of which about $30 million is set aside for our rainy day fund which is 3% of our total expenditures. A 3% fund reserve is recommended by the state. A lot of our fund balance is restricted, for example grants, which can only be used for specific activities and is not available for bargaining. About $60 million of the reserve fund is planned to be spent down over the next few years. The district has been very disciplined and responsible about managing spending. Some of the reserve will be used to address projected shortfalls over the next three years. We have and will be spending most of these funds on staff salaries, students and programming, and addressing unfunded mandates from the state like the new medical insurance changes. We are working hard to balance costs that we can maintain over time without overspending and cutting critical services to students. It is our responsibility to provide families with certainty and stability when it comes to the excellent education we provide for their children. We must take the long view.

    We look forward to completing the bargaining process with our educators and staff and starting the new school year on time. We are fully committed to a contract that provides competitive wages with our neighboring districts while also fully funding the critical programs and services that our diverse student population relies on and maintaining a balanced budget.

    Read more about the budget and bargaining process.