No school tomorrow. Negotiations between the school district and the teachers union remain broken, and mediators are meeting with both sides. Seattle's unionized teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrative workers will continue to strike.
"We are looking for a swift resolution and agreement, but unfortunately there is not one at this time," Stacy Howard, spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools, said at a press conference this afternoon. "So there will not be school tomorrow. Our goal is to have a contract that puts students first and honors our teachers and is fiscally sound."
The last offer from the school district came at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Not long after, the union announced that educators were going on strike, and the School Board gave the superintendent the power to pursue legal action against the striking teachers.
"We're waiting for the school district to give us indications that they're willing to start bargaining seriously," Michael Tamayo, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Leschi Elementary and a member of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) bargaining team, said. "All of our proposals have been out on the table for months, so they know what they need to do to get us back to the table."
The school district says that their latest offer includes a 14 percent raise over three years for educators, but that figure also includes the state's cost of living adjustments, some of which are only temporary. (The school district's real offer for striking educators is something closer to a nine percent raise.) The school district says that their offer still stands at $62 million in salary and incentives for teachers over three years of the contract, and has also said that what the union is asking for amounts to something like $172 million.
When I asked SEA president Jonathan Knapp about that $172 million figure, he called it a "fantasy."
"We don't think that that's a fair accounting of what we're asking for," he said. A union analysis of the school's budgets from the last six years showed $10 to $20 million left over annually, he said. "We think the money's there."
The $38 to $40 million the school district is now receiving from the state because of the McCleary decision (you know, that teensy, tiny issue of the state legislature criminally underfunding our schools) is also an annual figure, SEA spokesperson Rich Wood said.
Now go read Jen Graves on how perhaps the answer is to shut the whole goddamn system down until we get an income tax. (It worked for New Jersey.)