SEATTLE - Seattle Public Schools has canceled the first day of school, Wednesday, Sept. 7, in anticipation of a strike authorized by the Seattle Education Association.
Earlier in the day, teachers in the Seattle Education Association (SEA) overwhelmingly voted to go on strike if no agreement was reached by Wednesday morning.
SEA said 6,000 people, or 95% of educators, voted to authorize the strike.
The teachers' union said if an agreement is not reached by the first day of school that educators will officially go on strike at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
By Tuesday afternoon, Seattle Public Schools said there would be no school on Wednesday, Sept. 7. The district said student meals will be provided at several school locations.
Read the full statement sent to families below:
No School Wednesday, Sept 7
Seattle Public Schools will not start school as planned on Wednesday, Sept. 7, because of a planned work stoppage by Seattle Education Association (SEA).
Student meals will be provided at several school sites. Free sack lunches are available for all students and will be available for pick up from approximately 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. We are also reaching out to community childcare providers to help support our families. We expect after-school athletics will continue, even if there is a delay in the start of school. We will publish details about student meals, childcare, and additional resources. Please visit our Family Resource webpage for locations and details.
Seattle Public Schools respects our educators and staff. We are optimistic the bargaining teams will come to a positive solution for students, staff, and families. Negotiations with SEA are ongoing. We are looking forward to beginning school and welcoming students and staff for the 2022-23 school year.
Please check your email, text messages, or voicemail for updates.
The SEA vote came just a day after Seattle Public Schools said in an email to parents that it was ‘likely’ the start of school would be delayed, as the district continues to negotiate with the teachers’ union.
Officials with the school district said on Monday that SEA rejected a memorandum of understanding, which would have allowed school to start on-time while negotiations continued.
Instead, several hundred Seattle school teachers spent their Labor Day afternoon making picket signs for the possible strike.
"The [memorandum], that’s a distraction—honestly, it’s not going to move us closer to an agreement," said SEA President Jennifer Matter. "This past week we were making a lot of movement, and we remain optimistic we can reach a tentative agreement."
Bargaining teams for both sides were at the John Stanford Education Center on Monday, but it’s unclear if any meeting took place between the two.
"I can understand, we all can understand how it is, how anxiety-inducing the unknown is," said Matter. "But I want to assure you that we are fully committed to working to reach a tentative agreement as quickly as possible, and that is our number one goal right now."
School bus contract issues
There’s also the uncertainty of school buses and if there will be enough of them. The district had to bring in First Student, its bus vendor for the last several decades, to cover several dozen routes that the districts new bus vender Zum said it could not support due to staffing issues.
The district says parents were notified of their student's individual bus schedule last week, but a spokesperson told FOX 13 on Monday that they "do not yet know about potentially suspended routes."