Dear VPS families:
I am writing this letter to let you know that the general membership of Vancouver Education Association, the union representing teachers, counselors and other education professionals in Vancouver Public Schools, released a ballot to its members yesterday that considers the possibility of an illegal strike, or work stoppage. If VEA leaders decide to enact a strike, it could affect the beginning of this school year, possibly causing a delay in the opening of our schools.
As you may know from recent news coverage, school districts throughout Washington state are facing the challenge of negotiating new or modified contracts with their teachers’ unions and other employee associations. The VPS bargaining team continues to meet with the VEA bargaining team after several months of collaborative and positive talks. However, contract negotiations are especially difficult this year because the state is implementing a new education funding system in response to the McCleary lawsuit.
The legislature allocated $1 billion of additional money statewide to help districts transition to this new system, but it also reduced the amount of funds districts can collect through local levies next year and beyond. The legislature did not significantly change what programs and services constitute basic education. Rather, it shifted more responsibility to the state for funding existing programs and services, including salaries. Simultaneously, over the next two years, the state has legislated a reduction in the amount of local revenue VPS can collect. The media has referred to it as a “levy swap.”
The table below illustrates the new state discretionary revenue and the full effect of the “levy swap” by 2019-20.