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Seattle school board offers new contract package, preps for legal action against union

Seattle teachers maintain their threat to strike, one day before class is scheduled to begin. The school district will discuss taking the union to court. (Jillian Raftery/KIRO Radio)

The Seattle School Board is considering taking legal action against its teachers threatening to strike.

A resolution granting the district’s superintendent the ability to take the teacher’s union to court, and possibly force staff into their classrooms, is going to be discussed during the board’s Sept. 8 meeting. Resolution 2015/16-5, if approved, would grant the superintendent funds for legal fees incurred by taking the teachers’ union to court. It also grants the superintendent the authority to limit access to district facilities and suspend the ability of staff to use sick leave while striking.

This comes less than a day after the district offered a $62 million package to the union, falling short of the teachers’ requested $172 million. The package includes “significant” staff increases for special education, wage increases, and 30 minutes of additional student instruction time.

The Seattle Education Association has yet to respond. The union voted on and approved a strike on Sept. 3 should a contract not be agreed upon between the two parties. That strike is scheduled to begin Wednesday, on the first day of school.

Related: McKenna on why it is not legal for Washington teachers to strike

The district has told parents and students that progress is being made in mediation, but also warns them to prepare for the strike. Its website is now offering links to various childcare providers, as well as activities with Seattle Parks and Recreation to give students supervision while school remains out and the strike potentially continues.

The Seattle Education Association is also preparing with strike training.

Seattle teachers are negotiating for five main demands, including: an increase in pay, guaranteed student recess, improved teacher evaluations, de-emphasize student testing, and address disproportionate discipline.

Some progress has been made so far, such as with the association’s recess demand.

The union has also told teachers that it has reached an agreement on increase in pay for substitute teachers, KING 5 reports.

Negotiations remain stalled on teachers’ increase in pay. The teachers want an 18 percent raise over three years with a 3 percent cost of living increase. The district is offering 8.2 percent increase in exchange for additional classroom time.

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