Seattle Teachers Expected to Reject District's Contract Offer

Aug 26, 2013

Seattle teachers are expected to reject the school district’s latest contract offer at its meeting Monday evening, but the superintendent suggests the district is ready to deal on some key sticking points.

The Seattle Education Association is recommending its members reject the contract proposal, and it has a long list of reasons why: not enough money, too much emphasis on testing, and overworked counselors, psychologists and school nurses, to name a few.

And the union is especially irked about a proposal to extend the workday for elementary school teachers. This proposal, first reported by KPLU in the spring, was originally floated as a way to increase the time and quality of classroom instruction. Now the district is proposing to use it for teacher planning and collaboration, but not extra classroom time for students.

SEA President Jonathan Knapp says the plan would extract more work from teachers for less money.

“The real solution here would be to restore the full length of the elementary day. This is just telling teachers they need to sit in detention at school until the bell rings," said Knapp.

But Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda says the district is open to other ideas on how that time is used.

“How we identify that half hour, whether it’s collaboration time or we use it somehow to support additional instruction, I think that those are conversations that we can continue to have with SEA,” Banda said.

Banda indicated the district is less inclined to budge on the raises or on teacher evaluations, which the union wants to untether from test scores.

Banda says if the SEA votes the offer down, he expects to be back at the table Tuesday. That meeting could come early; union representatives plan to deliver the results of their vote to Banda in person at 8:30 a.m. sharp.