Striking Teachers Set to Head Back to School With Tentative Deal

by | September 16, 2015

By Paige Cornwell

School will start Thursday for Seattle students, now that the city's teachers union has suspended its five-day-old strike, following all-night contract talks between the bargaining teams from the union and the district.

The strike won't be over until and unless the district's membership approves the tentative contract agreement, a vote which is scheduled to be held Sunday.

But after the union's board of directors and its representative assembly voted Tuesday afternoon to recommend the deal to the full membership, the union suspended the strike, which cleared the way for school to open.

Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until the union has a chance to share them with its members.

Teachers still reported to picketing locations Tuesday morning, while about 500 union members, parents and students marched from Pioneer Square to district headquarters to show their support for teachers and celebrate the agreement.

Teachers and other school employees have been on strike since Wednesday, which led the district to close schools for its 53,000 students and forced parents to find care for their children.

The issues include pay, the length of the school day, the amount of student testing, and the caseload for psychologists and other specialists. The union represents instructional assistants, specialists and office secretaries as well as teachers. In total, it has 5,000 members.

Mayor Ed Murray said the city will continue to offer free drop-in activities for up to 3,000 children at its community centers until school starts.

"This is welcome news for Seattle families and students," Murray said in a statement. I'm glad both parties were able to come together to reach a tentative agreement this morning."

In announcing the tentative agreement, Ballard High School principal Keven Wyncoop asked that parents help students with the healing process after the strike.

"It's really important for our community to continue to come back together," Wyncoop said.

(c)2015 The Seattle Times