Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland, left, talks with Johnny Hoang, 5, on his first day of kindergarten at Concord International School, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, in Seattle. Nyland was visiting the school Thursday on the first day for students in the Seattle School District to begin classes for the new school year following a weeklong teachers strike. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland, left, talks with Johnny Hoang, 5, on his first day of kindergarten at Concord International School, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, in Seattle. Nyland was visiting the school Thursday on the first day for students in the Seattle School District to begin classes for the new school year following a weeklong teachers strike. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seattle students start school with teachers strike suspended

SEATTLE — Yellow school buses rolled through Seattle’s streets and noisy schoolchildren packed playgrounds again as thousands of students started the school year Thursday that was delayed by a weeklong teachers strike.

The walkout began Sept. 9 in Washington state’s largest school district, its first in three decades, and was put on hold after the union and Seattle Public Schools reached a tentative contract agreement. The full union membership will vote on the deal Sunday.

The contract dispute marked a strategy shift by teachers nationwide to take on broader issues that promote the public interest, experts have said. The Seattle teachers union tapped into community protests over too much testing, not enough recess and concerns about racial disparity in discipline and student performance.

Educators also complained that the city’s high-paid technology industry had priced them out of living in the city where they teach, especially since they had gone six years without a state cost-of-living adjustment. The district provided raises totaling 8 percent out of local levy money.

An overnight bargaining session earlier this week found compromise, allowing 53,000 students to begin their first day of school Thursday. Kids huddled with their friends, parents helped younger children find new classrooms and many pulled out cameras to snap selfies.

Alissa Bugge, who dropped her second-grader at Daniel Bagley Elementary, said she and her son were excited and relieved about the start of school. But she’s also worried about how they will have to make up the missed days.

Six days of school will have to be rescheduled, which the district said could extend the school year or shorten midyear vacation breaks. Graduation dates for seniors will likely change as well.

Bugge had mixed feelings about the strike, saying, “It’s hard to say. There are two sides to a story and not everybody knows it.”

The strike forced thousands of parents to juggle schedules. Some brought children to work, while others used city community centers that offered free care during extended hours or other programs.

The teachers union and school district hammered out a deal early Tuesday that gave teachers a 9.5 percent pay raise over three years, guaranteed 30-minute recesses for elementary students, a longer school day and more teacher input over standardized tests.

Michael Muto, a parent of two kids at Daniel Bagley Elementary, including one in special education, said he supported the strike because the teachers’ issues resonated with him. He backed their demand for a cap on caseloads for special education teachers, psychologists and other specialists.

“A lot of us (parents) are trying to take the energy from the strike and turn it toward Olympia,” he said of the state Capitol, adding that they want to pressure lawmakers to find a consistent revenue stream.

Matt Johnson and his daughter planned to ride bikes to school Thursday, when she starts kindergarten at North Beach Elementary.

“She is very excited to start school. It’ll be great to have her back in school,” said Johnson, a massage therapist who patched together child care in the past week by using a community center and alternating schedules with his wife.

The union leadership voted Tuesday to suspend the strike and recommended that the union’s 5,000 members approve the deal.

Johnson said he was a little nervous about school starting because the full union membership was not voting until Sunday. “What if things don’t pan out?” he said.

Muto said he’s watching the vote, too.

“We would be willing to be back out here if they say no,” he said of returning to the picket lines.

___

Associated Press photographer Ted S. Warren contributed to this report.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 7

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Ice fog, a phrase in Russell Tabbert’s Dictionary of Alaskan English, is not uttered in many other places because to form it takes a sustained temperature of minus 35 F. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Alaska lexicon sinks in over the years

When my little Ford pickup chugged into Alaska 36 years ago this… Continue reading

Mimi Israelah, center, cheers for Donald Trump inside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during a rally Saturday July 9, 2022. Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when Israelah, in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed a "white privilege card" instead of a driver's license and was not ticketed. (Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)
Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop

It’s unclear what policy was violated or what disciplinary actions the two officers faced.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Capital City Fire/Rescue vehicles form a line at Juneau International Airport for a drill. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Women arrested after Monday morning structure fire

Arrest does not appear related to two other recent fires, per fire marshal.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Keke Tian Ke is the featured artist for the month of August at the Juneau Artists Gallery. Her new works on display are an exploration of the landscapes and natural wonders Juneau has to offer. She’ll be at the First Friday event on Aug. 5 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on the ground floor of the Senate Building, 175 South Franklin.
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday

Keke Tian Ke featured artist for August at Juneau Artists Gallery

Select North Douglas residents are expected to experience an emergency water line shut down Thursday.
Some North Douglas residents set to experience emergency water line shutdown Thursday

The line shut down will occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday.

Most Read