Seattle students will return to school as scheduled next week after the state's largest school district reached a deal late Friday with its teachers union on a new contract.
Seattle students will return to school as scheduled next week after the state’s largest school district reached a tentative contract deal late Friday with its teachers union.
Seattle Public Schools announced the agreement on its website about 10 p.m.
“We are excited to share that the Seattle Education Association and district have reached a tentative contract agreement,” the announcement read. “School will begin on Wed., Sept. 5 for 1st through 12 grade students and Mon., Sept. 10 for kindergarten students.”
The district did not provide a copy of the package but listed some of its details, including “a competitive pay schedule that will not only honor the work of our current educators, but help us attract and retain new professionals.” The deal also would increase the number of counselors in secondary schools and nurses, while expanding school-based racial-equity teams and health-care benefits for substitute teachers.
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The union represents 6,000 classroom teachers, substitutes, paraprofessionals, instructional assistants and office professionals.
The announcement from the district did not include an estimated cost for the proposed contract but in its statement said, “every new state dollar that could be used for salaries has been offered during negotiations.”
The statement added that details would be released after the union-membership vote, which is scheduled for next Saturday at Benroya Hall. The Seattle School Board must also vote on the contract. A regular board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
Phyllis Campano, president of the Seattle Education Association, said late Friday she could not share more details of the contract until it had been presented to the union’s board of directors and general membership.
“I think union members will be happy,” she said.
When asked about the duration of the contract or whether it includes double-digit raises for educators, Campano again said union members would need to see the package before more information was released.
Negotiating teams for the district and the union have been meeting since May. After both sides failed to reach a deal by a scheduled deadline last weekend, teachers voted Tuesday to authorize a strike if their union could not reach an agreement by the first day of school.
“The entire team worked hard to ensure the negotiation process progressed smoothly and that we reached an agreement before the start of the school year,” new Superintendent Denise Juneau said in a statement. “I am thankful for their work. We have incredible educators in SPS and we value them as individuals and professionals. I look forward to a great school year!”
Teacher contract negotiations have been tense throughout Washington state this summer, after lawmakers approved an extra $1 billion for educator salaries in order to settle a decade-long school-funding case known as McCleary.
Similar to Seattle, teachers in Bethel, Highline and Kent authorized strikes to increase pressure on district management. Each district also struck contract deals this week to avert any picket lines.
Teacher walkouts already delayed the start of school in six Clark County districts in southwest Washington.
“While we don’t know the details of the new agreements in Seattle and Bethel, superintendents in other districts, including those on strike, have no excuse for failing to negotiate competitive pay raises for their teachers,” said Rich Wood, spokesman for the Washington Education Association.
Some districts, such as Bellevue, Edmonds and Lake Washington, reached deals early in the summer to provide their teachers with double-digit pay raises. But others, including Seattle, have argued an upcoming cut to their local property-tax collections also would cap their ability to afford such steep salary hikes.
“If Bethel and Seattle can invest in their teachers, so can Vancouver, Evergreen, Tacoma, Puyallup and other districts that so far refuse to negotiate fair contracts with their teachers,” Wood said.