School is postponed Friday for the 3rd day in the Tumwater School District. Teachers went on strike Saturday and missed the scheduled start of school. Check here for breaking updates
District spokesperson Laurie Wiedenmeyer said, “We are anxious to reach an agreement,” said Wiedenmeyer. “Get our students back in class.
The teachers' union, Tumwater Education Association (TEA), has been in talks and negotiating contracts with the school district since May. The collective bargaining agreement expired at the end of August.
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Tuesday was supposed to be the day for teachers to get their classrooms ready, but instead, they lined the sidewalks to rally in front of Tumwater schools and at the city’s major intersections.
Tumwater High School math teacher Doug Peltier, who has taught for 26 years, has never been on strike before this week. But he believes what his union is fighting for is worth it.
“We’re here fighting for a fair contract,” said Rhonda Crawford, who has been employed by the Tumwater School District for 26 years. “We were hoping to be, have a contract ratified by now and be ready for our kids tomorrow but we’re just not quite there.”
Crawford said TEA is looking for a fair contract that best serves kids and teachers. Teachers also want the district to reduce class sizes and make improvements to special education.
“I’m hoping in about ten years to be able to retire, so the more money I can make at the end of my career, the better that sets up my retirement,” said Peltier, who feels increased funding from the state should mean higher teacher salaries.
Wiedenmeyer said the Tumwater School District didn’t receive as much state funding as other districts, yet the district has been offering raises around 15 percent, a figure that could result in budget cuts next year.