Seattle schools start Thursday as tentative deal reached

John Langeler reports

SEATTLE – Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association announced a tentative agreement Tuesday to get striking teachers back to the classroom. School is set to start Thursday.

The SEA, which represents 5,000 teachers, said the three-year deal addresses teacher pay, evaluations, length of school day, testing, student equality and discipline, and recess. The SEA says the teachers will get a 3% increase in year one, 2% in year two, and 4.5% in year three of the deal, for a total of 9.5%, if ratified. They will also received an additional 4.8% state cost of living adjustment, or COLA, in the first two years of the contract.The SEA said the SEA Representative Assembly voted on Tuesday afternoon to end the strike and recommend ratification of the tentative contract agreement. A full vote will be Sunday.

Details from SEA:

  • Recess: Guaranteed 30 minutes of recess for all elementary students.
  • Reasonable testing: New policies to reduce the over-testing of our students.
  • Professional pay: Base salary increases of 3 percent, 2 percent and 4.5 percent, plus the state COLA of 4.8 percent
  • Fair teacher and staff evaluations: Test scores will no longer be tied to teacher evaluations, plus there is new contract language that supports teacher growth.
  • Educator workload relief: Additional staff to reduce workloads and provide student services.
  • Student equity around discipline and the opportunity gap: Creating race and equity teams at 30 of the district's schools.
  • The administration's proposal to lengthen the school day: Teachers will be compensated for additional work.

 

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office said until the teachers vote, the city will continue drop-in activities for children at city community centers. Click here for a list.

Including Tuesday and Wednesday, students will have missed six days of school. Some of that will likely be made up by the cancellation of three built-in snow days. It's not clear when the district will make up the other three days.

The deal came after a 20-hour bargaining marathon that ended at 6:50 a.m. Tuesday, the district said.

"The parties were far apart for a long time but, in the end, we found common ground wanting to make sure our children get the best education that they can. We intend, moving forward, to work as closely as we can with the union to realize the goals that we have for making Seattle schools the best place for kids to go to school" said Geoff Miller, chief negotiator for the school district.

Madeline Lawrence, a first-grade teacher who was hired in July, said teachers hugged each other and threw down their strike signs when they heard the news.

"We want to go back to school. We want the kids in school but we need a fair deal to do that," said Lawrence.

Ballard High School principal Keven Wynkoop urged parents to help with the healing process.

"Even though the strike did not go on for that long, it's still always difficult to overcome a situation like this. Even though we were able to always stay cordial at the bargaining table, it gets complicated in the press, in the social media, and in the community and it's very important for all of us to come back together," said Wynkoop.

However, many in the union were not pleased with the contract and the decision to suspend the strike.  Tuesday's vote was close, members said, and some are not confident they can sell the deal to fellow staff members by Sunday.

"I can conceive a situation where we strike on Monday," said West Seattle High teacher Judy Deignan, "If we explain to the parents why we were dissatisfied.  I think it's going to be a close vote."


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