Two days after Seattle educators voted to authorize a strike, bargaining was still underway for a teacher contract. In case talks fall through and school is canceled next week, here's where children can be taken.
Seattle Public Schools and the union representing 6,000 of its employees were still in contract negotiations to avert a potential strike as of 6 p.m. Thursday.
The negotiations continued as educators picketed outside their school buildings citywide.
“Not sure how late we will stay,” Seattle Education Association President Phyllis Campano said via text message around 5:30 p.m. She added that at that time, negotiators were still discussing issues related to substitute teachers, nurses and counselors. She did not immediately elaborate. Thursday marked the second full day of negotiations that passed since union members authorized a strike if a contract is not drawn up by Sept. 5, the first day of school.
When asked how long a potential new contract would extend, Campano responded again via text: “Still up for discussion but pretty sure not 3 years.”
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The two parties have met nearly two dozen times since May to work out the terms of a contract. The biggest sticking point is teacher pay. Both labor and management reported this week that negotiations have proceeded in good faith.
Campano said on Wednesday the union is “hopeful” that a deal can be reached by this weekend, but in anticipation of a walkout, city government, the school district and community organizations are dusting off the plans they used in 2015 should they come in handy. City and district officials did not yet offer many more details this week, but indicated that any guidance for parents would be shared if the strike seems imminent.
“During any negotiation the district has to plan for multiple scenarios,” Seattle Public Schools said in a statement on Thursday. “This includes working with the City, our community partners and others to identify resources and supports for families. These are in place and will be shared if needed. We remain optimistic that Seattle Public Schools will start on time … If anything changes, we will alert families through our regular communication channels.”
That uncertainty, though, left parents concerned about backup plans, in case the district’s optimism proves to be unfounded. Here’s what is known so far about where children can be taken if school is canceled next week. This information could change, so call ahead before making plans:
Similar to the last public-schools work stoppage, which lasted five days, the Boys & Girls Club of Seattle, the YMCA and the Pacific Science Center will extend their hours and summer camp programs in case of a school cancellation. The city’s Parks and Recreation department could potentially extend its programs at community centers as well, but more detail was not immediately available.
The Boys & Girls Club of King County is preparing to be open on Sept. 7, 8 and 9 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Elementary school programs are available for $50 per day at a variety of school-based locations: Bagley Elementary School, Lawton Elementary School, North Beach Elementary School, Northgate Elementary School, Sacajawea Elementary School and Salmon Bay K-8. There will also be open club locations in Ballard, North Seattle, Rainier Vista, Rotary (Central District) and Wallingford. Middle- and high-school programs are free with a $50-per-year membership at the club locations.
The YMCA will offer full-day Back to School camps for its K-5 students already enrolled in before- or after-school programs, or enrichment programs free of charge. There may be availability to families who aren’t already enrolled. Check http://ykids.seattleymca.org/ for updates.
The Pacific Science Center will extend the length of its summer camps for K-8 students that run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Capacity tops off at 80 kids per day, and there is extended child care available before and after the camps. Should a strike happen, registration will be open on its website.