Seattle Times: Schools start today after teachers OK contract
From our news partners at The Seattle Times: Seattle teachers have voted in favor of a new contract with the school district, paving the way for school to open as scheduled on Wednesday.
Seattle teachers approved a new two-year contract Tuesday, ending contentious contract negotiations that raised the possibility of the first teachers strike in the city in decades.
The new contract was approved by a show of hands at Benaroya Hall with about half of the district’s roughly 3,000 teachers in attendance.
The vote paved the way for school to open on time Wednesday, even as many young students probably went to bed Tuesday night without knowing for sure whether they would be going to class in the morning.
No teacher seemed entirely happy with the contract, but a majority decided it was good enough, with a 2 percent raise for the 2013-14 school year, 2.5 percent in the year after, and a couple of other changes that will add another 1.8 percent as well. The contract also included compromises on a number of other issues, too, including the use of test scores in judging how well teachers do their jobs.
Lynda Dowell, a math teacher at McClure Middle School, said the contract offered “inch by inch” progress.
Laura Hauswald, who teaches science at Eckstein Middle School, said she was relieved the contract was approved, even though it didn’t have more of what teachers wanted to see.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to my students tomorrow,” she said.
Jonathan Knapp, president of the Seattle Education Association (SEA), praised the contract as a strong one, with as many important changes as the previous contract, approved three years ago.
The agreement will bring big changes to how teachers are evaluated, he said, based on requirements in a new state law. It also includes an overhaul of special-education programs in Seattle, which school district and union leaders both hope will bring improvement to services that have drawn considerable criticism for years from parents and the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.