Tens of thousands of Puget Sound children may have their summer vacations extended this year thanks to contract disputes in the Seattle and South Kitsap school districts.
By a nearly unanimous voice vote yesterday, Seattle teachers voted to reject the district's latest contract offer, demanding "more time for teachers to teach and students to learn,” according to a statement from Seattle Education Association president Jonathan Knapp. The sticking points?
· The Seattle School Board’s demand to make elementary teachers work longer every day (after students have gone home) and take a pay cut. In contrast, Seattle educators believe the board should restore elementary art, music, P.E. and other classes that were cut nearly 40 years ago.
· The Seattle School Board’s refusal to reduce caseloads for therapists, psychologists, and other education staff associates. SEA members want reduced caseloads so they can provide the individual attention and specialized support all students need to receive a quality education.
· The Seattle School Board insists on outdated elements of the local teacher evaluation system that unnecessarily duplicates and conflicts with the state’s new teacher evaluation requirements and distracts from classroom learning. Seattle teachers want to focus on implementing the new state-mandated evaluation system and upcoming changes in academic standards.
· The Seattle School Board refuses to seriously address the need to pay teachers and other educators competitively. After years of cuts and stagnant salaries, it’s time for the board to increase educator pay so Seattle Public Schools can attract and keep quality educators and compete with neighboring school districts.
· The Seattle School Board is ignoring the need to provide professional development for paraprofessionals (classroom assistants) and reduce workloads for office professionals (school secretaries).
Seattle teachers will vote again on September 3, the day before the scheduled start of the new school year, on whether to approve a contract or take further action.
But in South Kitsap, teachers yesterday voted to strike, citing rising class sizes as the primary sticking point.