No school again Tuesday as contract talks between striking Seattle teachers, district continue

SEATTLE -- A long line of teachers on strike marched from West Seattle to Seattle Public Schools headquarters in the Sodo district Monday.

“We are doing this to be visible and to show the district that our points are valid,” teacher Alan Blackman said.

The teachers have been on strike since last Wednesday, which was to have been the first day of school. The union and the district are still at odds over pay.

“We do believe the proposal we are putting forward are proposals the district can do,” Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp said.

In order to meet the 10% pay hike educators want over two years, the district says they have to come up with $26 million more than what they can afford to pay.

“The district consistently has more money left over at the end of the year than they say they will,” Knapp said.

The union is convinced the district can also dip into the $37 million sum recently handed out by lawmakers.

But the district says only $9 million is discretionary and they plan to use that on textbooks and special education.

“Not sure we totally agree that they only have $9 million; it comes down to priorities,” Knapp said.

Until the two sides agree, the only classroom in Seattle will be a sit-in like the one outside headquarters on Monday.

“We would prefer to be back in the classroom with our teachers, but we do support our teachers,” parent Odetta Owen said.

But other parents are frustrated, saying teachers should have never walked out of the classrooms.

“It was a good deal; they should have taken that and been happy with it,” parent Sheridan Bradley said.

And with the strike going on, Seattle Public Schools says they are brainstorming ways to make up the missed days.

“Possibly using Saturdays or even shortening our midwinter break if we have to, but, again, it is to be determined,” Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Stacy Howard said.

Howard added that depending on how long the strike lasts, the district may have to delay graduation for seniors. She also emphasized that even if an agreement comes down, school may not start immediately because they have to work out logistics like transportation and food for the students.