After two months of negotiations, Seattle Public Schools and its teachers union, the Seattle Education Association, reached a tentative agreement on work expectations for this school year, which starts on Sept. 4.
Details about the agreement weren’t immediately available. At the bargaining table, negotiators discussed teacher training, safety standards when the district reopens buildings, and whether to offer special-education services in person.
If a representative assembly of union members approves the deal this weekend, it will allow the district to release additional information about what families and students can expect from online learning this fall, including vital services such as special education. Thus far, specifics have been scant, with the district citing ongoing bargaining with the union, prompting outcry from families.
The only substantial update from the discussions came on Aug. 14, when the district announced the first day of the school year would start two days after it was originally scheduled to allow for teacher training on remote learning.
The Seattle School Board nearly rejected a proposal that included this new start date and revised bell times at a meeting late Wednesday. Members said the district hadn’t been transparent in its communication with the board, or shown sufficient evidence that it consulted with community members and considered the impacts it would have on students of color and child care facilities. At first, the proposal failed to pass with three abstentions, two “no” votes, and two “yes” votes from the seven-member board.
Board members reconsidered and passed an amended version of the proposal unanimously after moving off the record to discuss labor negotiations. Those who originally voted “no” or abstained — Lisa Rivera-Smith, Brandon Hersey, Leslie Harris, Liza Rankin and Chandra Hampson — changed their votes.
“There was a lot we didn’t have the chance to talk about; we had unanswered questions in this process. We needed an opportunity to reflect on this,” said Rivera-Smith.
The updated school bell schedules will be communicated to families on Thursday and posted to school sites by Friday, said district spokesman Tim Robinson. Elementary schools and K-8 schools will start at 8:30 a.m., and middle and high schools at 9 a.m.