No class for Tacoma schools, Gov. spokesman says progress made

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 6:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 21 at 9:25 PM

Poll:
Should Gov. Gregoire intervene in the Tacoma teachers strike, or should the two sides figure it out on their own?

TACOMA, Wash. -- A spokesman for Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire says negotiators have made progress toward ending a teachers' strike that has forced the cancellation of seven days of school in Tacoma.

Cory Curtis says both sides were still working out some differences late Wednesday after several hours of talks. He didn't have details about the sticking points but said he was hopeful the issues could soon be settled.

Gregoire stepped in Wednesday morning, ordering both sides to resume negotiations.

Both the union and the district say it's possible this change of venue could lead to a breakthrough.

Math teacher and union president Andy Coons arrived at the governor's office around 2:15. Other teachers and district officials, including superintendent Art Jarvis, started meeting with the governor by 3 p.m.
 
The issues remain the same: class size, teacher pay and changes to the district's re-assignment policy.

For the seventh straight school day, hundreds of teachers walked the picket line.

Word that the governor's now involved gave Alison Lindsey-Iverson reason for optimism.

"I think it's great… I hope it works,” she said.
 
While the teachers are fighting for smaller classes, and against a pay cut they maintain the strike's "not about the money."
 
They're upset the district wants to change the way it can reassign teachers. Instead of basing transfers on seniority, the district wants it up to a committee.

The proposed policy change is just as much of a sticking point for the school district.

"This issue is the single most important thing we can do in this contract to improve student achievement in Tacoma schools. We're trying to make the best match between an individual's skill set and the needs of students in a particular school," said  Dan Voelpel, Tacoma Public Schools

Tim Neuberger has faith the negotiators will get him back where he's a little more comfortable - the classroom.

"I'm ready for it to end... that's for sure,” he said.

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