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Seattle Teachers Reach Tentative Agreement With School District


In Seattle, it's back to school tomorrow for students now that teachers have reached a tentative agreement with the school board, ending a weeklong strike, as Ann Dornfeld reports from member station KUOW.

ANN DORNFELD, BYLINE: Teachers walked off the job over a long list of issues, from pay to special education caseloads. The two sides settled on a 10 percent pay raise over three years for teachers and other support workers. But Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp says the union worked with parents to come up with its platform and bargained a lot of issues that affect students specifically.

JONATHAN KNAPP: We really feel like this is a new era for public education, where we're opening the doors for progress on a variety of issues just beyond the traditional pay and benefits.

DORNFELD: For the first time ever, the union won a minimum amount of recess, 30 minutes a day for elementary students. There will be new limits on student testing and school-based team that will address issues of racial equity, including discipline. The district's big win is a 20-minute longer school day that officials say will help students meet new higher standards. Seattle's school day had been one of the shortest in the state. Kevin Wynkoop is the principal of Ballard High School and a member of the district's bargaining team. He said even though the strike is over, tensions and hurt feelings remain.

KEVIN WYNKOOP: So it's really important for our community to continue to come back together. And I really do ask the parents especially, but the students as well, to help with that healing process for all of us.

DORNFELD: Parents have been vocal during the strike about the district not showing enough respect for teachers. The agreement still needs to be ratified by the union's rank and file and the Seattle School Board. But this apparently ends the city's first teacher strike over a contract since 1985. For NPR News, I'm Ann Dornfeld in Seattle. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Year started with KUOW: 2008
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