Melody Kieffer, an office manager at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, addresses the school board on Monday. Madison Miller/staff photo

Melody Kieffer, an office manager at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, addresses the school board on Monday. Madison Miller/staff photo

LWSD office personnel may see pay cuts next year

LWSD and LWESP are bargaining for a new three-year contract.

A streak of red lined the hallways of the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Resource Center on Monday night (Aug. 12).

More than 50 teachers, office managers and office personnel gathered wearing red shirts, symbolizing unity and support for education.

The Lake Washington Educational Support Professionals (LWESP) are at the end of a three-year contract with the district. Every three years, the group and the district bargain for a new contract regarding wages, hours and working conditions.

LWESP represents about 300 LWSD office staff members, which include office managers, clerical assistants, receptionists, health room secretaries and accounting technicians.

“We’re the face of the school,” LWESP president Carolina Borrego said at a school board meeting on Monday. Borrego has worked in the district for 20 years. She is currently the office manager at Louisa May Alcott Elementary.

The district and LWESP began bargaining for a new contract in May. Since the implementation of the McCleary Decision in 2018, teachers statewide received a salary increase of about 12 percent.

“We’ve been waiting for our turn,” Emerson K-12 office manager Healy Landis said. “The McCleary money is to pay for all school staff.”

In late July, LWESP members learned of the district’s latest contract proposal. It’s not only educational support professionals who might not see a salary increase due to the McCleary Decision — the district proposed pay cuts for some educational support professional positions as well. It was not specified how much the pay cut could be nor which positions it could affect.

“We’re told that we’re valued and important all the time,” Landis said. “But to hear the words ‘pay cut’ shows that we’re not really valued. We don’t feel valued or respected.”

LWESP members work varying numbers of days per year. For example, health room secretaries work 180 days. Central office staff work “year round,” typically 260 days. Others are in between that. Members have negotiated paid holidays. How many depends on the length of their work year. For example, if a person’s work year ends in June, they don’t have July 4 as a paid holiday.

“Year round” staff have negotiated paid vacation time. LWESP staff who work less than 260 days in a year cannot take paid vacation. Instead, some extra days of pay are added to their work year.

In the 2018 agreement between the district and the LWESP, an LWSD high school secretary with zero to five years in the position earned $22.50 an hour, amounting to $39,780 annually. An LWSD office manager with zero to five years in the position earned $23.52 an hour, amounting to about $36,385. A detailed report on 2018 LWSD educational support professionals salary can be found on the LWSD website (https://bit.ly/2KB3hVe).

Melody Kieffer, an office manager at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, said educational support professionals are the ones who make schools run smoothly — that schools couldn’t function without them. Every three years, she said the district and the LWESP have never reached a contract before the start of the next school year.

“We work five to six months ever three years without a contract,” she said. “I doubt any of them would think to work without a contract, but they expect us to.”

Peg Jatekar, a healthroom secretary at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, held a plush heart with a handwritten note attached at the school board meeting. The note read “Have a heart and do the right thing…We are the faces of the school. We are usually the first and last face parents and students see. Treat us as such. We matter!”

“This is a slap in the face,” Jatekar said. “We should be leading by example, not lagging behind.”

The district declined to comment on the bargaining process.

“To preserve the integrity of the negotiation process, Lake Washington School District does not comment on ongoing negotiations,” LWSD communications director Shannon Parthemer said.

Members of the LWESP will be at the Aug. 26 school board meeting.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

About 50 LWEA and LWESP members gather to support LWESP at Monday’s school board meeting. Madison Miller/staff photo

About 50 LWEA and LWESP members gather to support LWESP at Monday’s school board meeting. Madison Miller/staff photo

Peg Jatekar, a healthroom secretary at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, held a plush heart with a handwritten note attached at the school board meeting. The note read “Have a heart and do the right thing…We are the faces of the school. We are usually the first and last face parents and students see. Treat us as such. We matter!” Madison Miller/staff photo

Peg Jatekar, a healthroom secretary at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, held a plush heart with a handwritten note attached at the school board meeting. The note read “Have a heart and do the right thing…We are the faces of the school. We are usually the first and last face parents and students see. Treat us as such. We matter!” Madison Miller/staff photo

About 50 LWEA and LWESP members gather to support LWESP at Monday’s school board meeting. Madison Miller/staff photo

About 50 LWEA and LWESP members gather to support LWESP at Monday’s school board meeting. Madison Miller/staff photo

More in News

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Starting July 6, three road paving projects to prepare for

Two full road closures and night paving work is coming to Redmond Ridge at Novelty Hill Road, near Duvall, July 6 through August

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline. Courtesy image
Drug courts, officer de-escalation programs impacted by MIDD cuts

The fund provides money for mental illness and drug dependency programs across King County.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Most Read