10/23/2014

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Seattle teachers vote to accept new contract

Seattle teachers vote to accept new contract
SEATTLE -- Seattle teachers will be in class Wednesday for the first day of school after voting Tuesday night to accept a new contract.

The teachers gathered at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle Tuesday to discuss the school district's latest offer.

Union leaders wouldn't disclose the details of the agreement, but the teachers say it includes longer work days and less of a pay raise than they had hoped for.

The middle ground on pay raises comes at 2 percent this year and a half of a percent next year. As for work days, elementary school teachers face the prospect of working a longer day.

Students' days would remain the same length, but teachers would stay an extra 30 minutes each day. That was a sticking point for some teachers.

"They have not extended the students' day, which means that they're not getting art, music, PE unless their parents can pay for it in high income schools," substitute teacher John Dunn said prior to Tuesday's vote.

While some felt the deal left plenty to be desired, others were just happy to settle the issue.

"It's kind of a relief because it's been a lot of work and a lot of organizing the last number of weeks," said teacher Noam Gundle.

Gundle didn't vote for the package on principle, but he said he will abide by it.

"It's difficult to bargain with a district that doesn't always understand what's best for children," he said.

In a Tuesday night statement, Superintendent José Banda thanked both sides for coming to an agreement.

"I appreciate each and every one of our staff members, whose work contributes to the academic success of our students. All of us at Seattle Public Schools look forward to welcoming our students and families to a new school year tomorrow," the statement reads.

The new contract is for two years,
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