Seattle Public Schools and the city’s teachers union didn’t meet Thursday or Friday, but both sides announced late Friday afternoon that they will be back at the table Saturday.
Seattle’s teachers union and Seattle Public Schools both announced late Friday afternoon that their bargaining teams will be back at the table on Saturday.
“After productive talks with mediators today, both sides have agreed to resume negotiations Saturday,” the union wrote in a tweet.
The district held a press briefing about an hour and a half earlier, but nothing was announced there, although they said they continued to be open to resuming talks.
The district also announced it will likely extend the school year to make up for the time lost to the ongoing teacher strike, which has been three days so far.
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Spokeswoman Stacy Howard also said the strike is costing the district $100,000 each day.
Earlier Friday, the city announced it is prepared to provide extra child-care services next week if the teachers strike continues.
The camps will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 21 community centers around Seattle, according to a city news release. They’re available for kindergarten through 6th-grade students and will run at no additional cost for families, the release said.
This week, the city’s parks and recreation department expanded its before- and after-school programs into all-day camps at 16 Seattle community centers, giving priority to families enrolled in the program. The total capacity was nearly 900, according to the release.
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The city says next week’s services, if needed, will help up to 3,000 students, with registration on a first-come, first-served basis. In all, there are 53,000 students in Seattle’s public schools.
On Thursday, district leaders and union members met separately with state meditators called in to help the two sides reach an agreement. In the meantime, teachers, along with some parents and students, continued to picket outside schools.
Teachers were not picketing Friday, instead doing service projects in honor of the 9/11 anniversary.
As of Thursday afternoon, Howard said the district was waiting for a response to its latest proposal: a three-year contract that would cost $29.4 million over two years.
“We feel like we’ve made a very fair offering, and now we’re just waiting for a response,” Howard said. “We are here and ready to bargain through the weekend.”
The district again said it has no plans to go to court to force teachers and other school employees back to work.
Seattle Education Association Jonathan Knapp said Thursday that union leaders had a good conversation with a mediator, and the group wants to see new ideas from the district before it goes back to the bargaining table.
Teacher Laura Lehni, a member of the union’s bargaining team, said she feels like there hasn’t been mutual trust throughout the talks, and that the union is fighting to make teacher evaluations more consistent, make changes to standardized testing and provide more training for school staff to address social equity.
There are about 40 members of the union’s bargaining team, she said. The union represents about 5,000 teachers and other school employees.
Michael Tamayo, another bargaining member, said teachers should have more input in how standardized tests are administered, and they want to lower the workload of school specialists, such as psychologists.
But according to the district, the two sides have reached agreement in several of those areas, including providing “equity access and opportunity for every student,” and student testing.
The two sides did agree last weekend on a minimum 30 minutes of recess daily for elementary students.
The district says the union’s proposal for a two-year contract will cost about $61 million over two years, more than twice what it can afford.
As of Wednesday, the Seattle Education Association was asking for a 5 percent raise this school year and 5.5 percent next year. In addition, teachers would receive 4.8 percent over two years from the state, a cost-of-living adjustment that’s applied only to the state’s contribution to teacher pay, which in Seattle is about 75 percent of the total.
The district’s latest offer would raise teacher salaries by 2 percent this year, 3.2 percent next year and 4 percent in 2017-18. The state-approved cost-of-living adjustment would be in addition to that.
Teachers hope to make up the ground they’ve lost over the past six years, when state lawmakers failed to give them cost-of-living raises, even though voters passed an initiative in 2000 requiring them to do so.
In many districts, including Seattle, teachers have received some raises over that time period, but their health-insurance costs have gone up, too.
Teachers also get regular raises early in their careers for each year of experience, and for earning additional college credits and degrees.
In Seattle, the district’s salary offer is in line with many of the pay raises in other districts where teachers have negotiated new contracts this year.
For example, Everett will raise salaries by 7.75 percent over the next three years — a 2.25 raise this school year, a 2.5 percent raise the next year and 3 percent raise in 2017-18. That does not include the state cost-of-living increase.