Will a teacher strike delay the start of school in Seattle? Not this year
UPDATE, Aug. 27:
Members of the Seattle Education Association approved a new contract with Seattle Public Schools in what the union, in an update Tuesday evening, called an "overwhelming" vote. The new, three-year contract contains wage increases for both certificated teachers and paraeducators.
The first day of school is Wednesday, Sept. 4.
The school district, in a statement released after the vote, said: "This contract allows SPS to retain and attract great educators, which include paraprofessionals, substitutes, and office professionals."
In the statement, Superintendent Denise Juneau said: “This was an important day and the approval of the contract was an important moment. I want to send out a big thanks to the joint bargaining teams. Now it's time to get to the crucial work of educating our students."
UPDATE, Aug. 24:
Seattle Education Association announced Saturday night via Facebook that its negotiating team had reached a tentative agreement on a contract that would allow school to start on time in Seattle.
Full membership will vote on the deal at a meeting on Tuesday.
No details were immediately given about the deal, but the two sides were known to have been at odds over pay, among other things.
We'll update when we learn more.
Seattle Public Schools are set to start the new year on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
However, the district and its teachers have not yet agreed on a contract.
If this sounds familiar, it's because the same thing happened last year, with a contract being hammered out just in time for school to start.
The rhetoric has not yet gotten terribly negative, and there isn't much chatter about the dreaded S word (strike), but here's what we can gather about this year's talks:
The teachers, through their union the Seattle Education Association, say that their priorities in negotiating a contract are: professional compensation and fair workloads, meeting the needs of the whole student, supporting professional growth for all educators and "centering a lens of racial equity across all we do."
The district, in a statement Aug. 19 on its website, says, in part: "The district continues to bargain in good faith and look to SEA to continue to join us at the table for productive conversations. It is our goal to start our school year on time and look forward to continuing to partner with SEA to eliminate opportunity gaps for students and to provide excellence in education for every one of our more than 53,000 students."
The district points out that all teachers and classified employees received 10.5% raises a year ago, that Seattle paraeducators have the highest salaries among paraeducators (also known as teachers' aides) in the state, and that the district keeps an eye on pay elsewhere with a goal of remaining competitive.
The statement goes on to say, however, "We have to balance that against what we can afford and our fiscal responsibility."
The union has a general meeting set for Tuesday, August 27, at Benaroya Hall. The agenda, according to SEA website: "We’ll either be voting on a tentative agreement or our next steps."
There are several ways families can stay informed about what's going on.
The SEA invites people to read its blog (and sign up for notifications), visit its Facebook page and sign up to receive text alerts by texting SeattleEa to 41411.
The school district posts updates on its website here.
Visit the SEA blog https://www.seattlewea.org/about-us/sea-blog/ (Be sure to sign up for automatic blog notifications on the right side of the blog page.)