Efforts to solidify a contract between educators in Kent and Seattle and the two public school districts continued through Sunday without reaching any agreements.

Kent educators went on strike Aug. 25, on what would have been the first day of school in the district, and have continued to picket in front of schools.

In Seattle, members of the Seattle Education Association are voting through 9 a.m. Tuesday on whether to authorize a strike. Wednesday is the scheduled first day of school.

The union has about 6,000 members and Seattle Public Schools has warned families the start of the school year could be delayed due to a possible strike.

Kent Education Association Vice President Layla Jones said its team has been working over the weekend but there were no updates on when the strike might end.

“We are encouraged that the district seems to be starting to understand the need for competitive salary but discouraged that they still refuse to talk about our proposals to improve learning conditions and support for students,” she said.

Advertising

On Sunday, the SEA rejected a proposed memorandum of understanding from Seattle Public Schools that would have guaranteed an on-time start to school, while allowing negotiations “to continue in earnest,” according to a news release from SPS.

The SEA rejected the memo and called the move “a distraction rather than an agreement to improve student supports.”

According to Seattle Public Schools, the memorandum would have allowed school to start Wednesday, while also allowing negotiations to replace the contract that expired Aug. 31 to continue.

SEA and Seattle Schools have been negotiating a contract since June.

“SPS knows that starting school on Wednesday is what is best for students, and we understand that the uncertainty about the delay is difficult and unsettling for our students, staff and families,” said SPS Assistant Superintendent of Public Affairs Beverly Redmond.

Julie Popper, spokesperson for the SEA, said SPS did not appear for negotiations on Friday and Saturday but exchanged proposals with SEA on Sunday.

Advertising

“We remain available round-the-clock and are ready to bargain,” said SEA President Jennifer Matter in a news release. “We call on SPS to stop the distractions and instead match our urgency to get to a tentative agreement that better serves out students.”

Seattle teachers seek more control over class sizes and more support for special education and multilingual programs, among other demands. They also want higher pay for staff at the low end of the pay scale.

The last SEA strike took place in 2015. In 2018, the union also voted to authorize a strike before the contract was settled amicably.