Three days before the start of school, Bellevue teachers have reached an impasse with the school district over pay. Negotiators began mediation this...

Three days before the start of school, Bellevue teachers have reached an impasse with the school district over pay. Negotiators began mediation this afternoon.

“We welcome another set of eyes on our negotiations,” said Dale Folkerts, spokesman for the Bellevue Education Association. “Bellevue’s teachers have had a hard time getting the district to see the importance of their concerns about salary and the curriculum issues. Hopefully having another party in there will help speed a resolution to this bargaining crisis.”

School-district spokeswoman Ann Oxrieder said the district hopes the mediator will help.

“Our hope is that we’re going to start school on time Tuesday,” she said.

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The union represents nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors and other classroom specialists who are part of this contract negotiation.

In June, teachers authorized a strike for the start of school if a new contract was not in place.

On Saturday, the 16,000-student district asked for a mediator from the Public Employment Relations Commission. Talks are expected to continue throughout the holiday weekend. Monday evening, teachers will meet to learn whether a tentative contract agreement has been reached. If it has not, they will strike on Tuesday.

Teachers have said that although they are among the highest paid in the region, their salaries have not kept pace with raises in other districts.

Teachers also want the district to loosen its control over curriculum. The district offered a new proposal in recent days that would allow teachers to modify or supplement the standardized curriculum, but it requires teachers who replace lessons to submit changes to a review panel for possible inclusion in the curriculum.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com