More than 53,000 Seattle students started school after a weeklong strike.

Share story

With first-day photos, new schedules and welcome assemblies, school started Thursday for Seattle’s 53,000 students, after a weeklong delay because of the teachers strike.

“Welcome to a great new school year,” Superintendent Larry Nyland told students at an opening assembly at Chief Sealth International High School in West Seattle. “I hope this is the greatest year ever for you.”

As they waited for the first bell to ring, few Chief Sealth students mentioned the delayed start, instead greeting friends and asking about their summers.

By the numbers

• More than 53,000 students are expected to attend school in the district.

• Seattle has 97 public schools.

• Seattle Public Schools’ budget is more than $750 million.

• Students missed 6 days of instruction because of the teachers strike. Those will be rescheduled. The school year could be extended.

• Teachers will receive a 9.5 percent raise over three years, plus a cost-of-living adjustment.

• The school district provides nearly 30,000 school meals each day.

— Evan Bush, news producer

The students high-fived and shook hands with their teachers, who had been part of the 5,000-member union that went on strike after contract negotiations with the district stalled Sept. 8, the day before school was to start.

Most Read Local Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The strike, which was suspended earlier this week when the two bargaining teams reached a tentative agreement, will officially end if the agreement is approved at a meeting Sunday in downtown Seattle.

Though members aren’t required to attend, at least 20 percent of each bargaining unit — teacher, para-educator and secretary — must be in attendance for a vote to be taken. The final vote requires a simple majority, according to the Seattle Education Association.

While hundreds of students (and parents) participated in read-ins and other activities supporting teachers during the strike, others didn’t focus much on the specifics of the negotiations. They often checked to see when school would start, though.

“It was kind of annoying, because everyone was ready to go back to school,” Samara Joseph, 14, said before the freshman assembly began at Sealth.

Teachers were ready to address questions about the strike if students had any, special-education teacher Andy Tuller said.

“I’m curious to know how much they (students) heard,” he said. “I’ll explain reasons why it occurred.”

The strike provided a bonding opportunity for teachers before the school year began, Tuller added.

Later Thursday, Evin Shinn, a Cleveland language-arts and social-studies teacher, said his first day went well.

By the numbers

• More than 53,000 students are expected to attend school in the district.

• Seattle has 97 public schools.

• Seattle Public Schools’ budget is more than $750 million.

• Students missed 6 days of instruction because of the teachers strike. Those will be rescheduled. The school year could be extended.

• Teachers will receive a 9.5 percent raise over three years, plus a cost-of-living adjustment.

• The school district provides nearly 30,000 school meals each day.

— Evan Bush, news producer

“Students were ready to come back, chatting with their friends,” he said. “Oftentimes, especially with our lower-income students, school is so much more than learning. It’s much more of a place of social connection, and many of them got that back.”

When asked Thursday morning if he had any message to parents, Nyland said to continue supporting the kids. The district is glad to be open, he added.

And while getting up early and sitting in class didn’t excite some students too much, Joseph found one silver lining:

“It’s better than sitting bored at home.”