Contracts for teachers and school support staff expire Aug. 31, and it’s not clear whether the union and the district will agree on new contracts by then.
Members of the Seattle Education Association’s (SEA) bargaining team are continuing to meet with the Seattle school district to discuss issues such as length of teachers’ work days, the use of student test scores in evaluating teachers and raises.
The meetings come just days before the union’s general membership meeting Monday, where SEA President Jonathan Knapp said a vote on an “action plan” will take place.
The two groups are working toward drafting a tentative work contract, but if disagreements continue to linger, the SEA could take a strike vote.
“All actions are on the table,” Knapp said at a news conference Thursday.
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The two bargaining parties agreed on some issues during meetings Wednesday and Thursday, he said, and they could continue discussing contract terms into the weekend, depending on the outcome of Thursday evening’s talks.
Specifically, SEA Vice President Phyllis Campano said the district agrees with the union’s recommendation on improving overtime payment for office professionals.
The union said district administrators want Seattle teachers to work longer hours “but without a commensurate increase in pay.”
A state mandate requires more instructional time, which affects time for student learning, professional development and lunch and recess, District Superintendent Larry Nyland countered in a letter to parents and the district community.
Nyland wrote earlier this week that contract negotiations were progressing well.
Knapp said Thursday the district has about $38 million in additional funding to help meet the union’s requests, including increasing teachers’ pay.
Other proposals SEA is discussing with district officials are to change how teachers are evaluated and to guarantee 45 minutes of daily recess for elementary students.
Andy Russell, an elementary teacher at Dearborn Park International School and an SEA member, said the current evaluation method that’s based on students’ growth puts high pressure on teachers and isn’t “necessarily conducive to the learning kids needs.”
Educators’ contracts expire Aug. 31; school is to start Sept. 9.
Seattle educators waved signs and banners on two Interstate 5 overpasses Thursday morning to show support for members of SEA’s bargaining team as it meets with district administrators for its final scheduled session of contract negotiations.