Kent educators plan strike if contract agreement is not reached by first day of school

Teachers in one south King County community are preparing to go on strike just as the school year is about to start. Members of the Kent Education Association demonstrated a walk-in, Tuesday morning, to express frustrations with the Kent School District about contract negotiations. The group said it would demonstrate a walk-out Tuesday afternoon.

Teachers and staff gathered at Kentwood High School in Covington to participate in the demonstration. Union members said if the district cannot reach a contract agreement by the end of bargaining day August 24, they plan to go on strike August 25, which is the first day of school.

The Kent Education Association said Monday members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. Union leaders said they have met with district officials several times since bargaining started in mid-July. Still, both sides have not come to an agreement on contract negotiations. 

Union members said some of their requests include a modest pay increase to help cover the rising costs of living and healthcare. However, they said district officials refuse to offer workers a fair deal despite state budget funding to support the pay raise. 

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"What we want is student centered. Those are our huge priorities—our case load and class size. We want support for our students both mental health supports, counseling nurses in every building, all those sorts of wrap around services are what we're asking for. We want to help our [Special Education] kiddos, our English language learners. So, while we are asking for a competitive salary, the majority of the things we are asking for are student centered," said Layla Jones, vice president of Kent Education Association.

In addition, during a meeting Monday, Kent Education Association members approved a no-confidence vote in the Kent School Board and the superintendent.

FOX13 News contacted the Kent School District for comment and waiting for a response.

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This is a developing story.