SCHOOL STRIKE UPDATES: All-night negotiations; no school Tuesday; mayor meets with district, union leaders

(SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES including district briefing, union updates, events Tuesday)

2 PM: Day 4 of the Seattle Education Association strike against Seattle Public Schools. The newest developments:

MARCHING TO SODO: Dozens of strikers left the Chief Sealth/Denny vicinity around 12:30 pm, marching to school district headquarters at the John Stanford Center in SODO.

(Mouse over that image to bring up “play” button for the Instagram video clip.) We caught up with them early on, as they headed northbound on Delridge from Thistle toward the bridge. (added) A moment after we published this, we heard scanner traffic indicating police are tracking the march, which has just crossed the “low bridge.”

We had seen one car in the early blocks – near the Southwest Precinct at Delridge/Webster.

OTHER PICKETING: We took a quick look around after covering the start of the march.

Another group of picketers from multiple West Seattle schools is spread out among multiple corners at 35th and Thistle (above), a few blocks west of Sealth/Denny.

In The Admiral District, there are two groups – outside West Seattle High School (above), and outside Lafayette Elementary. (While all schools had picketers this morning, some consolidated for the afternoon events.)

CITY’S DROP-IN CHILD CARE: Thanks to helpful commenter MercyMoi, we have this link showing which programs still have room as of today – in this area, Delridge, High Point, and South Park. (We had asked Seattle Parks for updated info, too.)

NEGOTIATIONS RESUME; DISTRICT BRIEFING AT 3: In the late morning, the union announced that negotiations would resume this afternoon. The district, meantime, is having another 3 pm media briefing; we will be there and will update this report with as-it-happens toplines.

3:05 PM – FROM DISTRICT HQ BRIEFING: We’re at the 3 pm media briefing at district headquarters in SODO, which started a few minutes late while awaiting a crew that got stuck behind a train.

(Added: Unedited WSB video of briefing)
“Late last night, SEA presented a new idea to the district. The SPS bargaining team is studying this closely … and we expect a response back to SEA today.” NO SCHOOL TOMORROW, though. Because of the strike’s length, spokesperson Stacy Howard says, there’ll be some turnaround time whenever the strike finally ends (later, she elaborates that they don’t know how much time that would be, but “parents shouldn’t be surprised if we get word of a tentative agreement but we can’t restart just 12 hours later” – food service and other logistics are part of the reason for that). She is discussing a few other points such as special education – the topic of a demonstration here earlier in the day. As for “the strike impacts on the calendar” – the three snow days on the calendar will be used, for starters, one midyear, two at the end of the school year – “all additional makeup days” will be determined once the strike is over. Possible ideas: Saturdays, and/or part of the mid-winter break (which was scheduled for five days this year – alternating years have shorter breaks). Re: graduation days – Seniors are required to be in school 175 days before graduation, so graduation dates might have to change. SPORTS: As reported here yesterday, middle-school athletic events are postponed. High-school practices and games “continue to go on as usual – a lot of those employees are in different unions or not in unions at all,” says Howard. She says that by the time this news conference is over, the district expects to have a “timeline” posted online from negotiations to date. Asked how the strike is affecting other employees, she said, “Everybody’s in a holding pattern, and everyone’s being impacted …” district-wide. We asked exactly when negotiations had resumed today; Howard couldn’t say, only that the district team is “expect(ing) to respond to” the union’s offer. Meantime, apparently some union reps tried to attend press briefing and were told they couldn’t; the district has been saying for days that briefings required media credentials (which we have but have not to date been asked at door to show). Asked about this today, Howard cited reasons including security. (3:20 pm) Briefing is over; we’ll upload and add video, as usual, once back at HQ.

4:02 PM: Before leaving district HQ, we spoke briefly with union spokesperson Rich Wood outside, during what he said was the first picketing at John Stanford Center since the strike began:

That’s about all he could confirm. (added) By the way, here’s video of the picketers as they arrived – the marchers from Denny/Sealth:

Meanwhile, the district’s timeline of when proposals/counterproposals were made, mentioned by Howard in the briefing, is now online here.

5:48 PM: Someone asked in earlier coverage what Mayor Murray was doing about the strike. His office just sent this news release:

Today, Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement after meeting with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland and Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp to get an update on the latest surrounding negotiations:

“At my request, both Superintendent Nyland and SEA President Knapp agreed to meet with me separately today. In these conversations I reiterated my offer to help in any way possible. I urged all parties to continue negotiations in good faith to reach a fair agreement ending the strike and allowing the school year to begin as soon as possible.

“As I’ve said since the strike began, I stand ready to assist should my help be requested. I also asked that, should the strike continue, they again meet with me at the end of the week. In the meantime, the City remains committed to doing what it can to support families impacted by the strike.”

The mayor’s news release ended with a reiteration of the community-center drop-in programs, which we updated earlier in this report. Earlier in the day, the City Council passed a resolution designating this as Seattle Educators’ Week; it addresses both the strike and the state education-funding crisis.

7:57 PM: An e-mail update from the union to media a short time ago says negotiations are still under way: “It’s unknown how long negotiations will go tonight, but SEA bargainers are willing to work as long as it takes to get a tentative agreement.” We also have heard from a coalition of educators that they plan a “candlelight vigil” at West Seattle High School 7-9 pm tomorrow (Tuesday night) if this isn’t resolved by then. (added) We first mentioned this a few days ago – a message we received tonight says this support march downtown is still planned tomorrow morning, too.

TUESDAY, 7:10 AM: The union says talks went all night and are still going.

92 Replies to "SCHOOL STRIKE UPDATES: All-night negotiations; no school Tuesday; mayor meets with district, union leaders"

  • M September 14, 2015 (2:45 pm)

    The Seattle Times reported today that teachers have received the cost of living adjustment over the last 2 years. I feel lied to by the teachers

    • WSB September 14, 2015 (3:24 pm)

      M, please provide the link to the story where you saw that. It’s not in their current daily story.

  • Concerned Parent September 14, 2015 (3:21 pm)

    Can we PLEASE start school on Wednesday? At least that would just be 1 week delayed… making up the time is going to get bad, especially if we end up needing those snow days for snow.

  • Dan September 14, 2015 (3:24 pm)

    This is a joke I have moved my kids to highline school district. They have started school and the education is way better compared to Seattle.

  • Ray September 14, 2015 (3:35 pm)

    He was likely thinking of the Times EDITORIAL (not report)

  • HOB September 14, 2015 (3:39 pm)

    No rush teachers – it’s just our kids. No big deal

  • Smitty September 14, 2015 (3:40 pm)

    Is this it?:

    “Seattle teachers actually received 5.5 percent raises over the last two years. The district paid for those raises, using levy dollars, to make up for the state not providing cost-of-living increases.”

  • H September 14, 2015 (3:47 pm)

    @M —

    The Seattle Times, in a staff editorial, reported that the district paid teachers additional money through local levies. This is different from a COLA. The piece was not well written and conflated two very different funding sources. If you haven’t been following the state funding problems, it can be confusing.

    The Seattle Times piece is below:

    KUOW did a much better job outlining the difference in funding.

    No teachers in this state have received a voter-approved Cost of Living Adjustment in six years, so any increases come from local money and not state money. This is a part of the larger funding problem McCleary is supposed to address.

  • Seattle Parent September 14, 2015 (3:51 pm)

    The Seattle Times story was an editorial from this weekend found here:

    It’s true that the SPS teachers have received 5.5% pay raises over the past 2 years. The SEA is VERY careful to say they haven’t received STATE COLA raises in 6 years, but they are also VERY careful to not say they HAVE received increases in pay EVERY year. The difference is the State COLA comes from the state and is applied to every teacher in the state, and it is accurate that there have been no WA ST COLA increases in that time.

    BUT, and it’s a big one, the Seattle Public School District has funded pay increases in that time through levy funded dollars. That’s right, the District has been paying teacher pay increases from our property taxes all while SEA makes it sound like the teachers haven’t received a pay increase in years. That’s what makes this whole crying game about pay so frustrating.

    Like I said, the SEA isn’t lying when they say no state COLA increases, but to those of us who don’t know how the pay system works, it just sounds a lot like “no pay in 6 years” doesn’t it?

    And what do our teachers make? Did you know it’s all public information? Both the tiers and specific teachers. Look them up here:
    2014-2015: first year teacher no masters credits in seattle $44,372 last year:
    Individual teachers salaries here (statewide):

  • Angie September 14, 2015 (3:51 pm)

    M: teachers have NOT received a COLA the past 2 years. As a teacher, I can verify that so I’m not sure what the Times is talking about.

  • New Parent September 14, 2015 (3:54 pm)

    I suspect this is the article M is referring to, which is confusingly written/poorly edited:

    According to the article was
    1. Voters approved specific COLA increases in 2000, which teachers have not received since 2009

    2. There have been COLA increases and/or specific raises since 2000, but they have been outstripped by Health Care premium costs.

    (WSB, your stuff is much better written!!)

    As a new – to- Seattle single working mom, this strike is horrendous. I totally support the teachers, but my son is crying over the (added) disruption to his little life– and I am too. I hope the teachers and the district are able to reach a settlement quickly, that it is only for 2 years, that Larry Nyland gets fired, and that we spend the next 2 years figuring out a more equitable solution. And, I also believe in Santa Claus. One out of the above would be nice.

  • Apey September 14, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    Here’s a link to the Times Editorial Board article:

    • WSB September 14, 2015 (4:00 pm)

      Thanks for the links and sorry for the overlap as several comments were in queue while we were in transition back to West Seattle (preceded by some time outside the district building, talking to the union spokesperson to see if they were planning a briefing too – topline, he says, is that the two sides ARE in talks right now). – TR

  • Alice September 14, 2015 (4:07 pm)

    There is ZERO chance I will send my child to school on Saturdays because of the district’s inability to wrap this up. He has sports and travel and FAMILY time that we will not be giving up.

  • WSres September 14, 2015 (4:07 pm)

    Kiro also noted. No cola from state in 6 yrs but that District did include raises in last 2 yr contract. Kiro doesn’t note the percentages nor if they were to base pay.

  • jeunglady September 14, 2015 (4:10 pm)

    Seattle Times is reporting No school on Tuesday. I’ve only seen it from that source so far. WSB- Can you comment pls? Thank you.

    • WSB September 14, 2015 (4:40 pm)

      Jeunglady, we reported that more than an hour and a half ago – please see the story above – about one minute into the district 3 pm briefing, which started a few minutes late. (And also added it at that time to the headline as well as to our sidebar, as we’ve been doing each day when this announcement has happened.)

  • SPS Teacher September 14, 2015 (4:15 pm)

    @M. Yes. I feel like the union has been capitalizing on the fact that we didn’t get state COLAs but glosses over the fact that the district tried their best to make up for them. It’s disingenuous for the union to be using that as a talking point without explanation.

    Also, you know how the union has been saying that the district skipped negotiation meetings and did not present any proposals? Well, this is the document I’ve been waiting to see. We will also notice that adding to the day was introduced on June 4 and discussed throughout the summer. It was not a surprise when the proposal was presented in August. The union was expecting it.
    I really hope this helps to set the record straight. I am not supporting this strike because I felt the union was not honest In how we got here. And the vote was not unanimous.

  • Randall September 14, 2015 (4:17 pm)


    Guess again. You can’t have my kid on the weekend because y’all couldn’t get your act together over an entire summer.

  • Brenda September 14, 2015 (4:23 pm)

    You chose to be a teacher.
    Now go back to work like the rest of us!

    It’s getting ridiculous

  • SS September 14, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    Saturdays?!?! Please no–our kids (and I would guess parents and teachers too) need a break for the weekend. Eliminate mid-winter break and shorten the December break before adding Saturdays to the calendar.
    And most of all, please start school soon!

  • SeattleVolunteer September 14, 2015 (4:26 pm)

    I see that the City Council just unanimously passed a resolution in support of the strike, for what it’s worth.

  • Earnest WS Native September 14, 2015 (4:31 pm)

    @Seattle Parent. Wow, that’s be best, and most clearly explained description of the compensation scheme I have read since this debacle. Bravo! Unsurprising that SEA use such language to talk around the issue. I would not be surprised if some teachers don’t realize this.

  • How Many September 14, 2015 (4:34 pm)

    Question for a teacher: how many hours does a typical teacher work during a calendar year?

  • lox September 14, 2015 (4:36 pm)

    There seems to be a glimmer of hope in the quote about not being surprised if we hear of a tentative agreement. Thank you for the good report, WSB.

  • Les September 14, 2015 (4:47 pm)

    How many days per year does a Seattle teacher work ?

  • i'mcoveredinbees September 14, 2015 (4:48 pm)

    I support the teachers!

  • Seattle Parent September 14, 2015 (4:49 pm)

    No way will I be sending my child to school on Saturdays!

    Did you see in the negotiation timeline that the SEA requested suspended negotiations for a MONTH this summer? Was that so they could put in their t-shirt order for the strike? I guess the negotiators’ vacations were much more important than starting the school year on time.

  • Another teacher September 14, 2015 (4:49 pm)

    Actually, SPS teacher, the vote WAS unanimous.

  • JoAnne September 14, 2015 (5:02 pm)

    We need a voucher system. If there were a monopoly on anything else, people wouldn’t stand for it. Can you imagine a monopoly on cars, computers, or anything else we care about? No!
    So why do we tolerate a government monopoly on education?
    Especially since public schools are horrid failures!

  • Teacher September 14, 2015 (5:04 pm)

    @howmany this entire summer, I spent it taking classes and working on setting up my classroom. I worked for FREE all summer long- to be exact all of August unpaid. During the school year, I would come in during the weekends to prep for the following week. I enjoy being at work so I am not complaining. I chose this profession because I love what I do and I love my students. I don’t expect a huge pay raise but something will be nice. I voluntarily use my own money to by stuff for my classroom.

    I would happily invite people to spend a day in my classroom so you can see all that we do. I am tired of all this bashing!

  • old wolves September 14, 2015 (5:17 pm)

    Just give them more money they deserve it. Plus I’m tired of hearing about it allll day on the blog. Hint

  • JO September 14, 2015 (5:19 pm)

    I stand with our teachers!!

  • Seattle Parent September 14, 2015 (5:22 pm)

    @Teacher – you did not work “for FREE all summer long.” Just because your annual paycheck is paid in what, 10 or 11 months instead of 12 doesn’t mean anything you do during the summer isn’t paid. That’s the life of a salaried employee, you do the work that needs doing and you get paid your salary.

    Cripes I’m so tired of this attitude from teachers that you “work for free.” No you don’t, you earn a decent annual salary and are not required to be at your “office” 50 weeks per year.

    Now, about getting back to your office . . .

  • marie September 14, 2015 (5:35 pm)

    Is the possible delay before going back to school (IF/WHEN a tentative agreement is made) mentioned so there can be a party?

    • WSB September 14, 2015 (5:38 pm)

      Don’t think so, but you’d have to ask the district that. They’re the ones who said it would take time, and as I mentioned above, the spokesperson cites logistics such as food service. (I’ve added the full video of today’s briefing, only about 14 minutes if anyone wants to listen for the entirety of what was said/asked/etc.) – TR

  • au September 14, 2015 (5:45 pm)

    SPS teacher you are being a bit disingenuous yourself. I see on 11jun a presentation on lengthening the school day was given, but the fact is that adding 30 minutes on to the school day wasn’t brought to the table until 17Aug and then again for 20 minutes on 24Aug. I’m not sure how one can tell by the table what the content of the presentation was (other than a vague generalization) nor whether it was discussed all summer like you claim. Whether it was a surprise or not it can’t be negotiated until its proposed. Why did the district wait until mid Aug to propose lengthening the school day?

  • WSparent September 14, 2015 (5:47 pm)

    I am confused about pay during this strike? Most unions that strike are not paid during that period (unless they receive strike benefits from their union) if the district adds the days back in for the students are the teachers then compensated and not missing any pay for the days they missed due to the strike?

  • spparent September 14, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    Teacher – I also worked all summer for free and also put in all the extra time and money for supplies. People like Seattle Parent have no idea what their children’s education would be like if we didn’t! It was a unanimous vote to strike and the issues go so far beyond teacher raises, despite what all the media is focusing on. I’d like to not have to sit with one more kindergartener staring at a computer screen crying while taking a MAP test and I’d like my high school son to not give up another 6 weeks of instruction this year for testing.

  • Rope September 14, 2015 (5:59 pm)

    There is a lot of conflicting information out there. In the end healthy working relationships don’t result in strikes. The strike is a failure on the part of both the SEA and SPS leadership. Teachers and parents expect both parties to take care of business in a professional manner. When there is a strike it is clear this hasn’t happened. Teachers and our children deserve better.

  • Frustrated September 14, 2015 (6:00 pm)

    I have been told by an SPS teacher that at this point none of the teachers have lost any money or benefits as they are paid a month in advance. If the strike continues into October then they will lose benefits and paychecks. So at this point the teachers have had nothing to lose by striking. If you look at the history of the past strikes they magically end right before that October 1st cut off date. I had been hoping that the loss of medical benefits for a month would have put pressure to get this finished up.

  • Dman24752 September 14, 2015 (6:30 pm)

    I don’t see how it’s a difficult concept for folks to recognize that if you want to attract and retain talent, you pay folks more.

  • Marianne September 14, 2015 (6:39 pm)

    SPS Teacher-As several others have stated, the strike vote was unanimous. I was there. Since you are not on the picket lines with your colleagues, will you turn down any benefits that come from this strike?
    WSparent-SEA represented staff are not paid while on the picket lines. Since students must attend 180 days of school, this missed days will be added to the paycheck with those days, presumably July’s.

  • B September 14, 2015 (6:46 pm)

    @Teacher – you did not work “for FREE all summer long.” Just because your annual paycheck is paid in what, 10 or 11 months instead of 12 doesn’t mean anything you do during the summer isn’t paid. That’s the life of a salaried employee, you do the work that needs doing and you get paid your salary.

    If the teacher’s contract does not cover coming in during the summer, then yes Seattle Parent, they were not being paid for it.

    I made more in my first comp sci intern job than my mother, who had been teaching for two decades, so I’d say it’s debatable if they make a decent salary, given how much education (often masters degree) and experience they typically have.

    Plus, I don’t have to listen to “customers”, who think my job can be done by a DVD, tell me why their child is right and not I…

  • Mike September 14, 2015 (6:54 pm)

    So let me get this right, if teachers ‘work for free’ during the summer and truly only get paid for 180 days of work, then their base salary is WAY more than the union has let on. A normal work year over 12 months is 275 days if you only get 2 weeks of paid vacation. That’s 95 more work days than teachers are paid for.
    So, which teacher gets paid ‘for free’ during summer again? Salary also entails not requiring to get overtime. If teachers want overtime pay, then I suggest they propose to their union that they switch to an hourly rate and be required to log all hours. Would that provide a fair wage? I’ve heard teachers say they work more than the slightly over 6.25 hours required by contract, so wouldn’t it be to teachers benefit to go to an hourly rate and then also get overtime pay? The union could even negotiate for time and a half on Sunday or double pay on holidays, like Chistmas and Thanksgiving.
    Does my proposal seem fair yet?

  • Marie September 14, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    From what I have seen so far, it actually seems like the media coverage is pretty supportive of our teachers. I don’t recall seeing any pieces that suggest pay is the only issue.

  • al September 14, 2015 (6:57 pm)

    Rope–your comment is the most thoughtful I’ve read. I’m a teacher, but not in SPS, and I am skeptical of the district and the union. We could argue about how many hours every teacher teaches, how much money the union siphons, or when the demand for extended time was made and by whom, but what it comes down to is kids. Kids deserve good teachers, and this city is becoming unaffordable for teachers. The strike alone isn’t going to fix that problem, but I must stand in support of my colleagues from another district who deserve to be able to work hard and long hours doing the job they chose to do AND afford to live here. Yes, we chose this job, and many of us do it out of love for the job, but why do people in this profession have to accept unacceptable terms along with that choice.

  • Time for parents to strike September 14, 2015 (7:11 pm)

    This is getting old really fast.

  • gatewood girl September 14, 2015 (7:11 pm)

    I support the teachers! Hard, hard job….think its easy…. Try it!

  • Sarah September 14, 2015 (7:14 pm)

    Why do some of the people on the blog want to villainize teachers? Let’s look at the big picture: Alarmingly, our entire country is trending stupid when it comes to properly educating our children and young adults. It’s systemic top to bottom. Parents! Stop whining and write your legislators in Olympia and DC!! Get something done with the “big pie” and stop fighting over crumbs!
    AND Support your teachers!

  • Smokeycretin9 September 14, 2015 (7:18 pm)

    Why can’t the teachers be working while contract negotiations are going on?

  • JanS September 14, 2015 (7:31 pm)

    I heard this, I’ve been told that…hearsay, all of it. Parents are angry, and rightly so. Direct your anger at SPS, and tell them to get off their collective arses, and make it happen. If you’re not a teacher, then you really do not know all that is going on unless you’re sitting in on the negotiations…but, of course, y’all have time for that…right?

    Parent’s are not thinking about the teachers, in my opinion, when they rant about standing around on picket lines., etc. They are thinking about their inconvenience, and only that. Do you all honestly think these teachers wouldn’t rather be in their class rooms? They deserve more money, period. You get what you pay for. It’s time that everyone gets angry at our legislators in Olympia for not fully funding education in 10 years, and ignoring the court order to do just that 2 years ago….

    parents, become active letter writers, phone callers…just remember to call the right people…not the picketing teachers.

  • JanS September 14, 2015 (7:33 pm)

    also…a question for the person who claimed to move his/her children to the Highline School District…how can you do that if you live in Seattle? or do you live in the Highline School District, but somehow sent your kids to SPS. Either way…did you move, or just lie about it? And now that they’re in the Highline School District, if they go on strike next year, what’s your next move? Just curious…:)

  • JanS September 14, 2015 (7:34 pm)

    lastly, I wouldn’t trust the Seattle Times editorial board as far as I can collectively throw them.

  • JanS September 14, 2015 (7:37 pm)

    @Frustrated…since the last strike was 30 years ago…which strikes are you talking about?

  • teacher2 September 14, 2015 (7:39 pm)

    @Frustrated – We are not paid a month in advance (per your wording). Rather we are paid a month after working. Ask any new teacher that hasn’t been paid at all and might not get paid, hopefully they didn’t buy a house or sign any rental lease agreements. Yes we are all impacting our next months pay and benefits and we realize that. We are frustrated as well.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 14, 2015 (7:42 pm)

    Can we please stop linking or trusting the Seattle Times editorial board? It’s a front and mouthpiece the extremist and radical fringe business ownership of the newspaper. It may as well be the Murdoch fueled WSJ. Never trust the Times editorial board. They are notoriously inconsistent even with their own views.

  • Special Needs September 14, 2015 (7:45 pm)

    I think most folks support the teachers but it’s getting really frustrating to hear all the rhetoric from both sides. I have a special needs son and unfortunately no one is providing any sort of option for him during this strike. I really feel for those families that don’t have options and just want everyone posting on this board to realize this really hits familes hard no matter what side you support.

  • teacher2 September 14, 2015 (7:46 pm)

    @Mike – The teacher contract is 39.5 hours each week. 6.25 is instructional time for students. Teachers get to school before and stay after students. And most of us work far more hours as most people do in other professions.
    Also, during summers teachers are often at training and planning for their next year.

  • Supporting Teachers September 14, 2015 (7:53 pm)

    SO glad teacher stood up to district.

    The district has failed to provide adequate supports such as elementary school counselors, address issues related to excessive and meaningless tests, and lack of recess.

    Note: Ed Murray does not make comment in support of teachers

  • SPS teacher September 14, 2015 (7:55 pm)

    I wanted to vote no to the strike. I was not going to be blacklisted. Instead I was going to abstain. Knapp did not ask for abstentions. It’s not unanimous when it’s a voice vote by intimidation and I stand by that.

    I’m not so concerned about what others think. I have reasons for my opinions. I don’t want a single benefit from this strike. I am not out drumming up money from parents for a strike fund, am not participating in nice feasts provided by parents, and frankly am tired of the mob mentality among the teachers.

  • DP September 14, 2015 (8:21 pm)

    (Who I assume to be) Working-class people blasting other working-class people (teachers) is so pathetic and unfortunate. I can understand being upset with how union leaders may have chosen their words re: COLAs or raises, or their lack of forthrightness, but to vilainize teachers is so backwards. Ultimately, these proposals will help students which will eventually improve society.
    Everyone upset with this situation should contact Inslee and the WA state legislature and tell them to get their “you know what” together. Our current education situation is unconstitutional. Getting angry with teachers makes little sense. Perhaps we wouldn’t be in this situation if Boeing didn’t get billions in tax breaks?

  • Lina September 14, 2015 (8:29 pm)

    I am incredibly dismayed at the villianizing of our community’s teachers. Those who write scathing commentary on the people who spend more of our children’s waking hours with them than we as parents do are totally detached from where the true blame lies for the situation and inequity in our schools. It is easy to blame teachers, they are very visible right now, tangible people while “The District” is a more abstract entity. Those without the will or ability to see the bigger picture, in an ethical and compassionate manner will continue to blame the visible, easy target. When the going gets tough, and the strike continues, it will become very clear who the short-sighted people in our community are, who are unable to understand a complex situation involving far more than money. And even it this strike was based on the issue of pay alone (which it is not), there is still nothing wrong with that. Pick up a history book and you will see that unions and strikes are an integral part of our history in America. If you are a working person, many of the rights you have now (including your pay) were fought for by workers and unions before you. Show some respect for our history and the rights that you take for granted now.
    My husband is a teacher and we have a young child who will enter sps next year. I was out on the line today with my child, I was inspired by the dedication of everyone that we walked with, the many cars that honked and waved, my husbands students who walked with us while he made sure that the grammar on their signs was correct and everything was spelled correctly. That feeling of hope for a stronger school system for my child to enter into is what i will focus on tonight, not the sickening, heartless comments toward teachers on this thread.

  • Another teacher September 14, 2015 (8:31 pm)

    Thank you B! You get it! As a teacher, I appreciate your comment!

  • Alex September 14, 2015 (8:32 pm)

    parents should strike if Saturday school is presented as an option. Actually,we spend time as a family on the weekends and enjoy it. How about you don’t close school for two full weeks at Christmas for starters, or eliminate one of the two full weeks off in Feb or April. That’s easy!

    @smokeycretin9: you can’t negotiate while you work. You have no leverage. Think about it. The power comes from not working.

    I am emailing the district and calling every day. Also school board members. Today, I added in the Mayor for good measure. My message is I support the teachers but I am fed up with the strike. It is time for parents to turn up the political pressure and my support for SEA is not without its limits.

    Finally, the Seattle times is a joke. Totally anti-teacher and union and they have shown that over & over again.

    WSB has the only updated coverage anyway. Thank you!

  • Lynn September 14, 2015 (8:42 pm)


    Maybe you can drop by one of the picketing locations tomorrow and ask for a quick math refresher.

    “A normal work year over 12 months is 275 days if you only get 2 weeks of paid vacation. That’s 95 more work days than teachers are paid for.”

    mike – 275 days is 55 work weeks @ 5 days per week. Are you actually claiming the typical employee in Seattle works 55 weeks a year?

  • Alki Mom September 14, 2015 (8:46 pm)

    So I was just watching the clip of the SPS spokesperson. I heard her respond to some good tough questions from “Tracy”. Was that you Tracy from the WSB?

    Thank you so much for your continued coverage of the strike. I feel like the other news outlets have not been remotely as committed to the moment by moment updates.

    Thank WSB.

    • WSB September 14, 2015 (9:05 pm)

      Hi, Alki Mom. I asked the first question and Stacy responded to me by name in her response, but today that was the only question I asked – lot of other fine reporters in the room asking questions after that, and I was trying to get the info out through all our channels. This is a day and age when not only do people want to know important info as fast as possible, they CAN get it as fast as it’s available, with all the communications means and devices we have, so we strive to be fast and most importantly, accurate and clear. We don’t currently have the resources for in-depth coverage, though I wish we did, but you can count on us for the basics – what’s happening *now* … TR

  • WS Teacher September 14, 2015 (9:23 pm)

    @ how many… Hours vary yet I don’t know a single teacher that doesn’t spend at least 5 additonal hours a week at school outside of contracted time. In addition, most teachers spend at least a few hours at home grading, planning, reading about new trends, etc. we do this to succeed and help our students. Every year you get new kids, new challenges, so the workload stays about the same as you modify your planning and instruction to meet those specific kids. When I started teaching in Seattle, my principal told me I can take July off, but she owned me for August and be available for trainings & meetings most of Aug.

    Most of us do this for the love of teaching, we want to improve what’s happening in our schools, and we are all anxious to be in the classroom. As a parent I feel terrible about the strain this has caused thousands of families. My advice to ALL parents, spend a day in your child’s school this year and let the district know what they can do to better serve each school’s specific needs. We need parents to advocate for our schools, because clearly the district isn’t listening to us right now.

  • soi September 14, 2015 (9:42 pm)

    Living in Seattle is expensive. You can argue if Bellevue is higher if you want. Bottom line, I don’t understand how this is a debatable point. It’s high for me too. And for my neighbors and friends. And fellow workers. Seattle voters passd school levy to help offset this high cost of living because the school district can’t unilaterally impose higher tax for its budget. It gets what it gets from the levy, the federal govn’t, and the state. Within this defined budget, the district pays salaries, textbooks, computers, school materials, utilities, buses, PD, building maintenance, and so forth.

    As far as I can see, it’s about balancing a budget against many needs and wants. If the district pays the teachers what it wants, where does it cut to stay within the budget? People speak about wanting more money for this and that. That money comes from us. The city just found out the sea wall is going to cost us another $70 million at least. What about the tunnel? Mass transit? Food cost going up. Rent’s up. Same with utilities. Even Goodwill isn’t cheap anymore. It’s not as if my and your wages are keeping up with all of this. That’s the price we pay to live here in a city with serious growing pain, uncontrollable public spending, and unfortunate politics. It may very well be one day I can’t afford to live here either and join others in leaving. It happens.

    I wrestle over this and perhaps the price to keep a secure job, a seniority system, and pension plan, teachers may not reach the salary of Amazon software engineers where you have to constantly prove your worth in a Darwinian jungle.

    Why should teachers sacrifice so much? Don’t give up your summer working at school when school’s not in session. Don’t keep those 60 hour work week. Burn out doesn’t increase productivity. It just breeds resentment. I remind myself this and others in my own job.

    People are pretty understanding and don’t expect or want teachers to be heroes, superman or superwoman.

  • MamaLisa September 14, 2015 (9:49 pm)

    You go, Lina! Hold the line teachers.

  • Just me September 14, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    Both my parents were teachers. I can count on one hand the number of times they brought work home. Parent teacher conferences once or twice a year were the only evenings they ever worked. Lesson planning is only required the first few years, after that they reuse at least 90% of the same material every year. And they both took other jobs in summer to supplement their income. What an original idea.

  • LS September 14, 2015 (10:04 pm)

    If you read it in the Times you can bet that anything favorable to unions will never be written in the Times.

  • greg September 14, 2015 (10:05 pm)

    thought I’d clear up our “cola” the last couple of years. teacher pay comes in two parts. part one is From the state and is about 80% of our pay and the other 20% comes from the district. Wben the district gives us a pay raise it is usually only on the 20% so when they give us a 5.5% raise it is on the 20% which translates to 1.1% ( 5.5% x 20%) on our total pay. So yes we did recieve a raise of 1.1% in the last 6 years. I used mine to buy maserati

  • Mark September 14, 2015 (10:27 pm)

    To Dan who moved his kids to the High line district (if you really did)
    I graduated years ago from a school in highbline. Many of my classmates are or have been in jail. Those that are still alive any way. Best of luck to your kids they will need it. Ill keep my kid SPS any day.

  • Another WS Teacher September 14, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    I would love, love, LOVE to be paid hourly!

    Unfortunately, SPS and other districts around the country, know they are getting quite the deal by paying teachers like me a salary.

    I did the math several years ago, probably around the last contract. It depressed me, so I never did it again. But here we go…

    When I take my salary, (base and Tri.) and subtract the amount of school supplies I buy for students with my paycheck, and then divide that total by the number of hours I am contractually obligated to be at work + all of the hours I am at work that I’m not contracted to be there + all of the time I spend grading + planning + communicating with parents/kids during evenings + on weekends, I make less than minimum wage. GULP!!! Let me rephrase that a bit, I successfully manage to cram more hours of work in during the school year (from August to June) than my salaried husband does during his 50 week work year. So as for “summers off” this salaried teachers is sleeping! (Not really, I’m taking classes on my own dime — but that’s another issue entirely.)

    So, I don’t feel I work for “free,” as some teachers feel, but apparently I do work pretty damn cheap. And yeah, I knew that getting in, but what does this say about our society? If we collectively value having an educated populous, and educated voters, and ending the school to prison pipeline, then we’ve got to pay the folks that do the educating, and pay them well. Simple. And I’m not hating on other professions and workers who provide necessary services for the betterment of society. (Read = police officers, firefighters, social workers etc.) Shouldn’t all of these people be paid more? Really, what do we collectively value most? Widgets? People who build widgets?

    Now that I’ve got that off my chest, when should we talk about the inordinate amount of testing my students have to do?

    And why won’t SPS agree to having Equity Teams in place in every school? Are they that afraid of facing the pervasive institutionalized racism running rampant?

    Really folks, those last too issues are far more important contractual sticking points, to me, than the lousy pay!!!

    Let’s fix this, together!

  • Canto del Alma September 14, 2015 (10:58 pm)

    Since the district likes to keep putting our salary numbers out in front of the public, I thought it would be interesting to see what district salaries are. Here’s a bit of research:

    Supt. Larry Nyland: $276,000 salary + $55,000 benefits + $10,400 health benefits = $341,400/year

    The following data covers 2014-15. Data pulled from

    These are Larry Nyland’s direct reports.
    total includes health benefits (about $10,000) and any bonus pay (about $5,400)

    John Cerqui,Deputy General Counsel: $147,711
    Ron English, Deputy General Counsel: $194,074
    Kenneth Gotsch, Asst. Supt Business & Finance: $209,547
    Lester “Flip” Herndon Asst Supt Capital Facilities Enrollment: $199,288
    Brent Jones, Asst Supt HR: $186,551
    Pegi McEvoy, Asst Supt Operations: $199,473
    Andrew Medina Director Internal Audit & Ethics Officer:
    Bernardo Ruiz, Director School Family Partner Equity Race:
    Michael Tolly, Asst Supt Teaching Learning: $202,282
    Charles Wright, Deputy Supt: $208,883

    Salaries stay high, if I drill down to their direct reports. For example, here are Michael Tolly’s non-principal direct reports:
    Kelly Aramaki, Exec Dir Schools P-12: $162,901
    Veronica Gallardo, Dir ELL & Intl Progs: $141,530
    Misa Garmoe, Dir School Operations P-12: $119,631
    Jon Halfaker, Exec Dir Schools P-12: $162,091
    Shauna Heath, Exec Dir Curriculum Instruction Support:
    Wyeth Jessee, Exec Dir SpEd: $161,168
    Sarah Pritchett, Exec Dir Schools P-12: $162,901
    Keisha Scarlett, Principal Leadership Coach; $135,980
    Michael Starosky,Principal Leadership Coach:$139,363 Note he just got promoted to Assistant Supt Director of Schools
    Israel Vela, Exec Dir Schools P-12: $166,375
    Kim Whitworth, Exec Dir Schools P-12: $166,375

    So, for Larry Nyland, his main reports, and one set of sub reports, we have an annual cost of $3,822,197 . That’s right. For 22 people, we pay $3.8 million per year. SPS spends 1/3 of its annual budget on District HQ, one of the highest ratios nationally.

    West Seattle Community: I am a teacher, and I have been so for 21 years… This is about restorative justice for the kids of this city… We want direct student services brought back… remember all the direct student services that have been cut: elementary school counselors, HS career center specialists, full time nurses at every school, school secretaries. We want workload caps for specialists like school psychologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists. Why are Seattle special education costs high…. think about it, we are the medical center for the North West. Families with children who have special needs tend to move to big cities to get those medical needs met.

    To answer some questions posted. Most of us on the line work 10-12 hours on school days and usually at least 8 hours on weekends and longer if we are grading exams. The average secondary teacher has 150 students a day. And yes, we get paid for 180 days, we do not get vacation pay. A very long time ago teachers could select to have their checks spread over 12 months, now there isn’t an option. Also, about one fourth of educators aren’t teachers, they are classified employees, such as school secretaries and bilingual Instructional assistants who usually work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet.
    For the nay sayers: Do you really think we enjoy being on the line? We would much rather be in our classrooms, with our students/your children. But it is for the children we do this. I teach mine to stand up for what is right, to stand up to bully’s. We are just standing up, please stand beside us.

  • G September 15, 2015 (12:05 am)

    Look up the Seattle Times strike of 2001 if you want a reason for some of the paper’s animosity towards unions. It was a colossal fiasco by a totally inept union, and it achieved nothing after a month standing around burn barrels. It was damaging to employees and the company.

  • Seattle Fireman September 15, 2015 (12:19 am)

    I really appreciate the above comment from @anotherWestSeattleTeacher. Why is it so important for us to get the kids back in school and continue working on their education? To prepare them for a successful future so they can…. Wait for it ….. Earn decent wages and be able to provide for their future families ! Wow what a concept, sounds exactly like what our teachers are asking for ! I have a few friends that are teachers and they spend more of their off time working on projects for their students to make things better than any profession I know, and a lot of times covering the expenses themselves.

    As far as the union not being up front about not receiving a COLA raise in 6 years, I can see where that might be confusing. But far worse is the district claiming that the teachers are after this large 18% as if it were an overall raise, and not explaining the difference between Base pay and tri-pay and that the real raise here is much less than is being portrayed.

    Support the teachers in Solidarity !

    “We all do better, when We all do better”

  • Mike September 15, 2015 (12:27 am)
    Why are we funding gimic sidewalk painting when we need funds for education?
    WSU Teacher, you have valid points. I really do want teachers to be hourly rather than salary. I think those that work hard deserve to be compensated accordingly. I want a revamp in how teachers are evaluated, I want supplies paid by the district rather than teachers and PTSA funds, etc. What I don’t want is a strike that does nothing to help anything that truly can’t be fixed during the school year. The union and district heads are a joke, no better than wall street slime.

  • WS Teacher September 15, 2015 (6:31 am)

    @ just me… What decades and subjects did your parents teach? I’ve never met a teacher that didn’t attend evening events or take work home. I’m a 3rd generation teacher, have taught in multiple states and your comment astounds me.

  • Trumpetman September 15, 2015 (6:59 am)

    I hope schools district and union leaders are fired for this terrible situation they got our kids in…
    I know for a FACT that the union and district managers in charge of this are making a LOT more MOnEY than teachers are… We need to change that…

  • kayo September 15, 2015 (7:02 am)

    Teachers keep your chins up. We love you. We know how hard you work and how much you love our kids. We know you are doing what you have to do and support you. We know you desperately want to go back to school as much as our kids do. Don’t let the trolls here get you down.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (7:09 am)

      The union says this morning that talks went all night and are still going. Adding to the story above.

  • Scott Bly September 15, 2015 (7:39 am)

    @WSB – “The union says this morning that talks went all night and are still going.”

    I really appreciate both sides putting in the effort to resolve this dispute. Let’s hope for good news today for all sides!

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (7:43 am)

      Just in -word of a tentative contract agreement. Writing a separate story.

  • WS High School Teacehr September 15, 2015 (7:59 am)

    @Just Me: The teaching profession has grossly morphed compared to even 10 years ago. It might have been true at one point in time where a teacher didn’t have to bring home as much work home b/c they’re recycling curriculum from years before, like your parents. Or had to answer to parents/admin/colleagues or even the students. This was when teaching was very independent. However, it has completely shifted to being very transparent and the demands on the teachers keep growing and growing. We’re constantly being asked to do more with less and because we’re kind, compassionate, and mostly pleasers we just end up saying yes.
    In order to be an effective teacher these days you have to do an incredible amount of work in the off hours. Someone asked earlier how many hours teachers work. Personally, I work an extra 1.5 hours a day outside my contracted time in my classroom and then an additional at least hour or 2 grading or planning for the next day. If I were to track my time like a lawyer, I would even say I “work” during the night as I think about and dream about my work/students. That’s only on weekdays. Weekends and school breaks are just an extended amount of time that we can plan/grade or just recuperate from being spread too thin. Someone else asked if it would be better to be paid by the hour. Well sign me up, but the state would go broke paying teachers how much we really work. But however much extra work I do, I am still no where close to where I want to be. So just to survive I settle for being a crappy teacher and a crappy mother and a crappy wife and a crappy daughter, because I don’t have time to be decent at any of those things.
    I’ve never been able to teach the same thing 2 years in a row until this year but to be a great teacher I’m constantly modifying and making things better. That takes time. Have you ever had to make a presentation at your job? Well teaching in this day and age is like making a powerpoint presentation that is interactive, engaging, relevant, student-led and scaffolded for a wide variety of learners and styles EVERY SINGLE DAY.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg. But please direct your ire and angst towards the school board and our state legislature. We are only showing you the symptoms of a broken system. It isn’t effective to point fingers at a bleeding wound, rather the instrument causing the destruction.

  • just me September 15, 2015 (8:24 am)

    WS Teacher- This was not a long time ago in a galaxy far away. Parental unit #1 retired just last year. Elem school teacher. Parental unit #2 is still teaching, high school math. No evenings, no weekends, and wins awards for being a great teacher. They just don’t/didn’t volunteer to be club directors or sports coaches or whatever else there is. They went in, did what was required, and were/are home by 4:30 every day. This is in a different state, however. Maybe they had/have it easier because grading math doesn’t take very long, and they had teaching assistants to help. I just see a big disconnect between what teachers here are claiming, and what I saw with my own eyes for years.

  • Student September 15, 2015 (9:16 am)

    There is word, that school starts on Thursday, but some people are also saying Wednesday. Is there any actual update for the students on when we will be starting?

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (9:19 am)

      The district has *not* set a date. Their earlier statement, which we reported above, is that the “goal” is Thursday: – First, the strike is still on until SEA members get word that their leadership is recommending suspending it – that is what their picket captain reported at the Sealth gathering we just covered (video above – we also have added a link to KIRO’s “raw video” of the district briefing that was held on too-short notice for us to get downtown).

  • WS HS Teacher September 15, 2015 (4:07 pm)

    @Just Me: There might be a big disconnect to what you experienced in your life and what I am relaying to you. Not every teacher is the same, but I teach science. The new Next Generation Science Standards are ridiculously comprehensive and as I teach standards based I work extremely hard to make sure my students have the science skills, content and cross-cutting concept awareness and take ownership of their learning for learning-sake and not for a grade. And I agree, grading math is probably easier, especially when you have a TA, but grading short answers and analyzing their understanding takes SOOOO much more time than just grading multiple choice answers. People say then to just do what’s easier, but then I’m held responsible for how my students perform on the state standardized tests, which could be tied to my evaluation in the future if we don’t squash that BS now in our current contract negotiations (some teachers are in that situations, while most are not; where is the equity in that?).
    Plus, how would I know what my students understand by what they circle? I need to know how they’re thinking about it in order to fix my approach of teaching or give that student more assistance. I don’t know how to do that without bringing the work home.
    Also, the “word” that school will start Thursday is totally premature, misleading and setting up the teachers to look like the bad guys if we deem the tentative agreement unfit/unfair. Real classy, SPS.

  • WSDad September 15, 2015 (11:17 pm)

    Dear WS High School Teacehr……
    First of all, you should use spellcheck and be able to spell your title correctly. Beyond that, most of us other “working stiffs” in the “corporate” world put in an extraordinary amount of time “off the clock” as a salaried employees… Just as you are… So please stop complaining about having to put in extra hours when you’re really only working 11 months a year……actually much less, with the exceptional amount of additional vacation/holiday time that the rest of us don’t get. You work your ass off, we appreciate you, and you deserve to be compensated… But stop complaining about those “extra hours” you put in… So does everyone else… You’re not special. Moms put in extra hours, and dads put In extra hours…….and we do whatever we can to support you. On that note, some of us are tired of hearing you complain about having to do what is required for your job.I

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