SEATTLE -- Teachers in the Seattle School District are meeting Monday night to vote on the latest contract offer. The union is advising they vote it down, setting the stage for either more talks or even a strike.
The district says they’ve conceded on several issues including class size and wages, but that may not be enough.
Shopping for her classroom, first grade teacher Crystalen Burke is ready for school to start September 4th. But thorny contract negotiations could put that on hold.
“It kind of makes you wonder, ‘oh my goodness when’s the first day of school, are we really going to be striking or anything like that,’” said Burke.
Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp concedes they are far apart on a number of issues and don’t’ feel the district is being receptive to their concerns. Among the sticking points: longer work days with what Knapp says would be less pay for elementary teachers, evaluations tied to student performance and heavier caseloads for support staff.
With the start of school a little over a week away, both sides concede there’s a lot of work to do and not a lot of time left to get a deal done.
“You’ve got to be concerned if one side says we’re not talking about it anymore,” said Knapp. “So we really need to get back to the bargaining table and start talking in detail about these issues and how to move forward.”
The district says it’s happy to return to the bargaining table and says it was the union that walked away from talks on Friday.
Kindergarten teacher Claudia Conroy recently came to Dearborn Park Elementary from Los Angeles and is suddenly faced with whether to reject the district's latest offer. Conroy says she just wants what’s fair and what’s in the best interest of her students.
“I hope it starts September 4th because we’re ready,” she said.
The union plans to deliver the results of Monday’s vote to Superintendent Jose Banda Tueseday morning.