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Dear Families and Community, As we have come to know one another during the last year, I hope you

have recogn ized that one of my deeply held values is to be as open, transparent and consist ent in my communications with you as possible. We have just been informed by the Bellingham Education Association (BEA), our teachers group, that they will begin a strike on Friday, Sept. 2, a teacher workday. My purpose with this communicat ion is to update you and provide factual information. We look forward to continuing to meet with the association on Thursday, Sept. 1 and will continue through the weekend, if needed, in hopes of reaching a settlem ent and starting school as scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 6. We recognize the hards hips a delayed start could create and therefore, are sharing this information at this time to allow as much planning time as possible for families to make arran gements, should the school year begin later in September and end later in June. In the event that any changes to the school schedule occur between now and Tuesd ay, it is important that district families have updated their contact informatio n and notification preferences in SchoolMessenger. Updates will also be communic ated at www.bellinghamschools.org We have been negotiating for the past six months, working through many issues in the spirit of understanding and responding to each others interests, compromisin g, and desiring to move forward. We are very close to an agreement, but have no t yet settled on some remaining issues, including salary. Our offer to our teachers association includes: No salary cuts or furlough days (the district would cover the 1.9 percen t salary cut from the state for each year of the agreement); Other creative ways to use existing resources differently in order to pr ovide additional compensation in each year of the agreement; An additional one percent salary increase in the second year of the agre ement in recognition of a shared instructional vision; a calendar to support col laboration, assessments and family engagement; and other work priorities such as full-time kindergarten, K-5 literacy, online learning and more; and A pledge to work with staff to respond and address each others concerns s uch as providing more certainty regarding how we report student progress and per formance, and engage families in their childs education. With limited resources and a long list of yet unfunded student learning needs, w e need to find common ground related to compensation that we can sustain in the unforeseeable economic future. These economic times and our state Legislatures de cision to cut staff pay by 1.9 percent have made this a challenging starting poi nt for labor negotiations. We are all frustrated by our Legislatures inability to uphold its paramount constitutional duty: adequate funding of K-12 education. I value all of our employees and our seven labor groups. For many years, we have used local levy funds, generously provided by our community, to make up the sta tes shortfall in basic funding for our students, schools and staff. Throughout th e summer, we rehired 55 of the 57 certificated staff who received layoff notices in May. We have fabulous classified and certificated employees, and intend to c ontinue to use local funds to expand learning opportunities for students, reduce class sizes, and recruit and retain the highest quality staff. Other school dis tricts are asking staff to take furlough days and pay cuts. We do not want to de crease teaching and learning for our students, and therefore, have not asked our staff to take furloughs, nor the pay cut that the state has delivered. As the first scheduled day of school approaches, communications regarding negoti ations can quickly take on an us-versus-them dynamic. I encourage our staff, famil ies and community to remember, locally, we are all on the same team when it come s to advocating for the best possible education and outcomes for our Bellingham Public Schools students. Lets collectively direct our frustrations appropriately

at the state Legislature for its growing reliance on local communities to provid e what is needed for our children. I will continue to keep you informed as we make progress toward a solution with our Bellingham Education Association. Sincerely, Greg Baker Superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools