Sep 6, 2022 - News

Seattle teachers poised to strike, "likely" delaying school

Illustration of a red apple with a hundred dollar bill for a leaf. 
Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Seattle Public Schools officials warn that the academic year probably won't start as scheduled Wednesday, after the district and the local teachers union failed to reach an agreement on a new contract over Labor Day weekend.

Driving the news: Members of the Seattle Education Association are voting through 9am Tuesday on whether to authorize a strike.

  • The results will be announced later Tuesday.
  • Should union members vote yes, the strike will start Wednesday morning, unless a deal is reached sometime later Tuesday.
  • That would delay the start of classes until the impasse is resolved.

Catch up fast: The district and the teachers union continue to bargain over pay, support for special education students and class sizes, among other issues.

  • A key point of contention is the district's proposal for integrating special education students into general education classrooms.
  • Union members say they support that idea.
  • But they say they want a firmer written commitment regarding the level of support and staffing students will receive under the new model.

Latest: Over the weekend, the district proposed a memorandum of understanding that would have let school start as scheduled Wednesday, even as negotiations for a new contract continue.

  • Under that agreement, the district would ask the school board to ensure that any pay raises approved in the future contract apply retroactively, dating back to Sept. 1.
  • In return, the teachers union would agree not to strike.
  • The union rejected that offer, calling it "a distraction."

What they're saying: "You can't pay us to stop advocating for student supports," Jennifer Matter, president of the Seattle Education Association, said in a written statement.

The other side: In an email to families late Sunday, district officials said they hoped the union would reconsider its stance, but they predicted a delay in the start of school was "likely."

  • "Starting school on Wednesday is what is best for our students," the email said. “We understand this uncertainty about a delay is difficult and unsettling for our students, staff, and families."

What's next: Parents of Seattle students will be notified by Tuesday afternoon whether school will start as scheduled or not, the district said.

  • The district added that if school is delayed, it is working on a plan to provide pick-up meals for students, as well as childcare support.

Separately, teachers in the Kent School District have been on strike since Aug. 25, which was originally scheduled to be that district’s first day of classes.

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