Bellevue teachers ended their nine-day walkout tonight by approving a contract agreement that gives them more money and more control over lesson plans. School in the 16,000-student district starts Monday.
Bellevue teachers ended their nine-day walkout tonight by approving a contract agreement that gives them more money and more control over lesson plans.
School in the 16,000-student district starts Monday.
District officials said 95 percent of the teachers voting agreed to the contract.
“We’re very excited to be getting back to the business of educating kids,” Bellevue School Board President Peter Bentley said.
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Pay, health coverage and curriculum were the key issues in the strike by some 1,200 teachers that prevented school from starting Sept. 2.
Teachers will receive a 5 percent increase in pay over the three-year contract. That’s in addition to the state cost-of-living increases.
Teachers met tonight at Sammamish High School in Bellevue to review the contract agreement reached Friday between the school district and the Bellevue Education Association.
A lingering sticking point had been the district’s use of a common curriculum, which prescribes what is taught in core classes and at what pace. District officials said Friday they had accepted the teachers’ request for flexibility to change daily lesson plans without prior approval.
Teachers had also asked for a salary hike that would put them on par with other districts and reflect the cost of living. Teachers will receive a 5.1 percent cost-of-living allowance from the state this year; teachers had asked for an additional 5 percent from the district over two years.
Bellevue is considered one of the best school districts in the state, with high test scores and a high level of college participation. Former Superintendent Mike Riley, who left the district last fall for a job at the College Board, pushed for a common curriculum as a means to narrow the achievement gap between white and minority students, and to ensure that students across the district attended top-performing schools.
But the standardized curriculum gradually fomented unrest among teachers and some parents.
The prospect of greater freedom for teachers in what the teach — and of school starting — thrilled parent Sherry Yee. With a son who just graduated from high school and a daughter in middle school, Yee said not all students learn at the same pace, and teachers should be able to account for that.
“They’re the ones who are with the kids. They know what they need,” Yee said today.
Parent Bill Koefoed, who has two sons in elementary school, said parents were “super impatient and wanted this resolved.”
“People get really anxious on Mondays waiting for school to start,” he said.
Now, he added, it’s time to focus on the future.
“I think it’s important that we move on and the School Board focuses on bringing in a permanent superintendent quickly.”
Since Riley left last fall, Karen Clark, the district’s former finance director, has been serving as acting superintendent. The School Board recently launched a national search.
Bellevue was one of three Eastside districts in contract negotiations before the start of school; both Northshore and Snoqualmie Valley settled in time.
Last week, the Bellevue School Board decided not to ask a judge to force teachers back to work. In the state’s longest teachers’ strike, in Marysville in 2003, a Snohomish County Superior Court teachers ordered the walkout to end after 49 days.
Seattle Times staff reporters Mark Rahner and Angel Gonzalez contributed to this report. Information from The Seattle Times archives also is included.