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Kent teachers ratify new contract, classes set to begin Sept. 8

The Kent Education Association approved a new collective bargaining agreement on Sept. 7. Educators went on strike Aug. 25.

KENT, Wash. — The union representing teachers in Kent approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the Kent School District, ending a strike that began Aug. 25.

Classes at most schools are scheduled to begin Sept. 8, two weeks after they were scheduled to start. The first day of kindergarten is expected to be Sept. 13.

The Kent Education Association (KEA) previously posted on Facebook Wednesday that the union reached a tentative agreement with the district “in the wee hours of the morning.”

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • Additional training and collaboration time
  • Improved incentives to encourage the district to: fill paraeducator positions, keep class sizes smaller, keep caseloads manageable for occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech language pathologists
  • New wage ranges: 7% increase in the 2022-23 school year and 1% inflationary increase funded by the state

Educators in the district have been on strike since Aug. 25, delaying more than a week of school. The KEA has been bargaining for higher wages, lower class sizes and more manageable caseloads.

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The union said district officials and KEA representatives have been bargaining toward a new contract throughout the summer.

School enrollment data for the 2021-2022 school year shows the KSD is the fifth largest school district in Washington state.

Kent was among several western Washington school districts where teachers were either striking or poised to strike over pay increases, classroom sizes and workloads.

The Eatonville School District delayed the first day of school as teachers went on strike on Sept. 7. The district and the Eatonville Education Association failed to reach an agreement in contract negotiations Tuesday. Educators are planning to picket at various school sites starting Wednesday.

Seattle Public Schools teachers went on strike Wednesday. SPS is the largest school district in the state.

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