WenEA members fill school board meeting to capacity

Remarks of Kris Cameron, President of the Wenatchee Education Association
To the Wenatchee School Board, August 10, 2015

For the record my name is Kris Cameron and I’m here this evening in my role as president of the Wenatchee Education Association (WenEA) and I’m joined by a number of our members, students, and friends who are here to show support during our contract negotiations with the district.

I’d like to start by thanking you for the opportunity to speak tonight. Educators have a unique understanding of the classroom environment and I appreciate the chance to share some insights.

It seems that there is school construction everywhere this summer. It’s evidence of your vision and careful planning regarding facilities. We are confident that you will bring that same consideration to caring for the people who teach and learn inside those buildings as well – our students and educators.

After years of losses and funding cuts from the state, we now have a historic opportunity to make significant progress for students and educators. The district has a healthy financial reserve and is receiving a substantial influx of new state funding. Our WenEA bargainers have presented many creative ideas and options for how to accomplish our educators’ and our community’s top priorities as identified through Wenatchee Learns and the Thought Exchange process.

One priority is to reduce class sizes so we are better able to support and engage all learners, improve school culture, climate, and parent - teacher communication. Another priority is to maintain the high quality teaching staff that our kids deserve and our community expects, by offering professional and competitive salaries and benefits. This is a critical need as we are seeing long-standing sub shortages, increasing numbers of unfilled teaching positions, and fewer students choosing education as a profession. The teacher shortage has begun, and we do not want to continue seeing talented and dedicated educators leave Wenatchee for districts with better salaries and working conditions.

We value our collaborative partnership with you and our district administrators. It has allowed us to become early adopters & innovators - we see the train coming and we jump on board and do it one better. For example our collaboration allowed us to be ahead of the curve on creating learning improvement days & improving our teacher evaluation system. We often do things first and best and others emulate our example. We want to extend that collaboration to find creative ways to use our resources to make huge gains for education in our district.
Unfortunately we have fallen behind other districts of our size and in our region in several key areas. But we have the opportunity to correct this and work together to be the best we can be. We are committed to reaching a settlement that is in the best interest of students, educators and our community.

We hope we can count on your support during the negotiations process and we thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Wenatchee School District.

Thank you.