(TOPLINES: Strike’s first day is on with picketing at all SPS schools; district says NO SCHOOL THURSDAY but talks are expected to resume in the morning; scroll down for newest updates and photos from all 16 public schools in WS)
(At Roxhill Elementary: WSB photo)
FIRST REPORT, 9:40 AM: Picketing has begun at Seattle Public Schools campuses around the city, as the Seattle Education Association‘s strike – announced at district HQ last night – begins. Above, picketers at the first school where we stopped to photograph picketers, Roxhill Elementary, the southernmost campus in WS for now (until Arbor Heights Elementary’s construction is done). Roxhill student Rose is on the line:
Community members there to support strikers include Steve, who says he walks by the school every day, so today, he picked up a sign:
SEA says picketing will continue today until 3 pm. Via text (206-293-6302), we just received a photo from (corrected) Pathfinder K-8 “families and friends” outside district HQ:
(Pathfinder K-8 “families and friends” outside John Stanford Center: Reader-texted photo)
ADDED 10:03 AM: Just back from Gatewood Elementary, where our Instagram video clip (mouse over the image to bring up the “play” button) includes a chant:
(At Gatewood Elementary: WSB video, above, and photo, below)
Gatewood parent Jena told us that a striker-support fund is in progress at Caffé Ladro around the corner. We also spotted this sign:
Just in from strikers at Schmitz Park Elementary:
(At Schmitz Park Elementary: Reader photos above, via text)
10:53 AM: Thanks for sending photos from more of the picket lines around West Seattle:
That’s from Fairmount Park Elementary teacher and parent Althea Chow, who says, “Fairmount Park Elementary staff and families are loving the honks of support from drivers on Fauntleroy Way! Thank you, West Seattle!” (In addition to the group above in front of the school on Findlay, they also have picketers along Fauntleroy to the west.) Whenever school starts, this will be the second year for the renovated and expanded FPES, which reopened last year, seven years after it was part of a wave of SPS closures.
At the forested campus of Sanislo Elementary:
Thanks to Megan Simmons for that photo.
Next, from Jennifer Hall, who says her photo is from “West Seattle High School! This strike is FOR our students!!”:
Earlier, we included a photo of Pathfinder K-8 families at district HQ downtown. Holli Margell tweets this from the Pathfinder campus, on Pigeon Point:
— Holli Margell (@HolliMargell) September 9, 2015
ADDED 11:29 AM: Just stopped at Highland Park Elementary, where picketers are marching along Trenton, with chants and with music from a loudspeaker:
Some students showed up this morning unaware of the strike, they tell us. They also are handing out a letter, reading, in part, “We are on strike to redefine public education in Seattle. We want the best schools in the nation, with world languages, music, the arts, sciences, humanities, mathematics, the language arts, physical education, and more. We want the money spent on kids and classrooms, not on bureaucrats at the Stanford Center. We want our kids to be fully ready for the 21st-century world, not just to be test-taking robots.” They reaffirm the plan announced pre-strike, for picketing today and tomorrow (if the strike is still on), then projects for the National Day of Service on Friday – these strikers say they’ll be at the nearby White Center Salvation Army that day.
On to 5950 Delridge – where this will be the second and final year of Arbor Heights Elementary‘s temporary home. This photo’s from Krista McInerney:
11:52 AM: We’re now at Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School, which share a site in the 2600 block between SW Kenyon and SW Thistle. Denny picketers are along Kenyon (including the traffic circle):
They were marching along Thistle, all the way down to the Longfellow Creek P-Patch east of the school.
Back at Highland Park, PE teacher Chellie LaFayette tweeted that they had a surprise arrival just after we were there:
— Chellie LaFayette (@ChellieLaFayett) September 9, 2015
(Datapoint, Full Tilt co-founder Ann Magyar is a longtime teacher.)
12:15 PM: Just stopped at West Seattle Elementary in High Point:
Picketers are in front of the school on 34th SW and there’s also a small group at 35th and Morgan a few blocks away.
12:27 PM: On to the north end:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 9, 2015
Thanks again to everyone who’s texted/e-mailed (firstname.lastname@example.org) photos; we will continue to update the story with any new information on what’s next in the strike (see below).
1:53 PM: Thanks to Heidi Alessi for the picket-line photo from the newly renamed Louisa Boren STEM K-8:
Meantime, more of the stops we made before a quick lunch break. In the Admiral District, Lafayette Elementary:
Down the hill from there, Alki Elementary:
2:10 PM: Just got word that some of the north WS strikers will be gathering in The Admiral District at/near Lafayette, so if you see a particularly sizable group there, it’s representing more than one school.
HOW LONG WILL THE STRIKE LAST? NEWEST INFORMATION, UPDATED 12:58 PM: No word of new talks, so far; negotiations started in May and were ongoing until just before the strike announcement last night. Both sides are updating their websites – the union here (you can find PDFs of its e-mailed updates here), the district here. … We added district spokesperson Stacy Howard about the plan for announcements on schools’ status, etc. Her reply: “Hopefully at least one update per day will go to families. But this is so complicated and we want to make sure we are accurate before just putting info out there. Also, as of right now there is not a plan for legal action. We hope to resolve this before that happens.” (Added) We noticed the message on the SPS home page has been updated:
12:58 PM UPDATE: SPS is having a media briefing in two hours. No new talks or breakthrough; members of the district bargaining team are expected to speak.
2:59 PM UPDATE: We’re live at district HQ to report toplines of the briefing. SPS spokesperson Stacy Howard is leading it off. “We appreciate our teachers and educators and believe we have made a strong offer … It’s also important to note we must protect our fiscal health … (the offer) is fiscally sound. A contract that is not fiscally sound ultimately will help our students. We are offering a substantial pay raise … Our most recent offer provides a 14 percent pay raise over three years including the state COLA …” She says the union’s proposal would cost three times as much as the district’s offer. She denies that they are “extending the teacher’s workday,” currently 6 hours and 10 minutes, proposed to go to 6 hours and 30 minutes. “By adding instructional minutes to our students’ day … we can meet their .. needs.” She says they believe negotiations will resume tomorrow.
In questioning, the bargaining team reps who have joined Howard say it’s “complicated” to explain why the extra instructional time won’t extend the teachers’ work day. Regarding the length of the contract, the district reps say that both sides have proposed two- and three-year contracts at different points; right now, the district’s most recent offer is 3 years, the union’s most recent offer is 2 years. “The negotiation process is fluid,” Howard interjects at one point. “We are hoping for a quick resolution.” Says bargaining team member Jon Halfaker, “We believe we have made strong gains.”
“Does the district’s offer pay teachers what they’re worth?” they are asked. Howard doesn’t answer directly but says, “We want to honor our teachers. … Our goal here is to make them feel like they are getting what they deserve and that the students are getting the education they deserve.” Adds the other bargainer, “The district’s offer IS competitive. … We know it’s best for our kids to have strong teachers.” Halfaker says they feel they’ve been “as transparent as (we) can be.”
Asked one last question, why negotiations ended last night with a strike announcement: Halfaker said they had all worked a very long weekend, but they were “quite surprised” by the union breaking away after getting a counterproposal around 5 pm and instead coming into the chambers last night to declare they were on strike.
Final word from spokesperson Howard: Yes, this means NO SCHOOL THURSDAY – please get the word out to everyone you know.
ADDED 4:17 PM: SEA says picketing at schools will resume at 8:30 am tomorrow, except for an early start, 4:45 am-6:15 am, at Louisa Boren K-8 STEM in West Seattle. (Not mentioned in the update, but we would guess that’s for benefit of early-morning TV reporters, so you might see TV trucks there in the very early hours.)