Coupeville teachers air grievances over pay, contract

Coupeville teachers have little confidence in the financial future of the organization.

Teachers and other educators in the Coupeville School District have little confidence in the financial future of the organization or its leadership.

The Coupeville Education Association, which represents all certificated staff in the district, recently presented the school board with a letter that lists a long series of errors and oversights in how the district has handled pay and contracts over the past year.

“These kinds of problems concerning pay should not be an issue in a professional organization,” the letter says.

The letter comes six months after the district went through a difficult budget cutting process and just a few weeks after Superintendent Steve King announced he was leaving at the end of the school year.

According to a survey presented to the board in June 2023, only 18.4% of the union’s respondents had confidence in the district office’s ability to appropriately resolve the financial situation. Survey results also showed that 20.4% of Coupeville Educational Support Association’s members who responded felt the same way. The Coupeville Educational Support Association represents most classified staff in the district.

Since then, the letter states, things have only gotten worse.

In June 2023, members of the Coupeville Education Association were knowingly given inaccurate contracts to sign and were assured that they would be given accurate contracts by the start of the school year, the letter alleges. However, contracts issued at the end of November did not include the supplemental contract for additional days.

As a result, members didn’t know if they were being paid accurately and pay corrections are still being made for some employees.

Some teachers were underpaid, while a teacher on leave wasn’t paid at all, the letter states. In September, a third of the educators were overpaid, meaning the money was deducted from later payments.

According to the letter, teachers still haven’t received an accounting of overage days, despite this being discussed with the superintendent and the business manager.

The district also delivered the seniority list past the Dec. 1 deadline and did not include relevant information regarding seniority.

“This, along with our district’s current financial situation, inaccurate reporting and general lack of leadership, has left our members with little confidence in the financial future of their own pay as well as the district’s solvency,” the letter states.

In an email, Board Member Morgan White said the board was already aware of these issues prior to receiving the letter.

She believes the issues have been caused by some changes in the finance department, such as the migration to a new software that manages payroll and the transition to a new finance director and business manager.

“We value our staff very much and the district has worked very hard to rectify these issues,” she wrote.

During a meeting last Thursday, the board approved an interfund loan transfer of $400,000 from the Capital Projects Fund to the General Fund to cover all January expenses, including accounts payable and payroll. The transfer was made the following day.

According to White, the fund balance has been very low in January because the school doesn’t receive the same amount of revenue from local taxes and state allocations every month. The district intends to pay the loan back by April once it receives higher percentages of state apportionment and the April collection of property taxes.

The school has applied for interfund loans before, and White said all loans have been repaid.