KENNEWICK, WA - A possible para educator strike is looming over the Kennewick School District. After months of negotiating, the Kennewick School District has yet to settle an offer with its para educators.
Since this summer, Kennewick para educators who work closely with teachers have been rallying for higher wages. These rallies come after the Washington Supreme Court decision that says the state must fully fund education.
At the start of the school year, district teachers settled a deal, but para educators are still waiting for a contract that meets their needs.
Tuesday, the Kennewick School District negotiated a deal, with a starting salary at $14.07, however para educators countered that with a vote to strike.
According to the Public Employees of Washington Association (PSE) what the para educators are asking for is $14.57 - a number 50 cents more than what the current offer is on the table.
"A lot of our para educators are working two and three jobs," said Physical Therapy Para educator, Teresa Brown. "We work really hard, and we want a decent wage for it."
Neighboring school districts have already settled with their para educators. The Pasco School District offered their paras $15.79, nearly 2 dollars more.
Friday the Kennewick School District plans to negotiate another offer. Kennewick para educators can choose to accept that offer at a January 17 meeting or vote to continue with a strike. Kennewick school teachers say they will stand with them.
"We have agreed to support them," said Kennewick Kindergarten teacher Denise Hogg. "If they go on strike, we would not cross their picket lines. Chances are they would have to halt school like they did in the Olympia area, until they come to an agreement."