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Nov. 26, 2022

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Seattle educators approve new contract with Seattle Public Schools

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Six days after ending a strike against Seattle Public Schools, Seattle teachers voted to approve a three-year contract that includes salary raises, more support staff in classrooms and more manageable caseloads.

The Seattle Education Association union voted Monday night and announced the result early Tuesday.

There are three contracts in all, and each group voted on its own agreement. For the contact covering certificated staff or classroom teachers, 71 percent voted in favor. The contract covering paraprofessionals passed with 66 percent in favor. And educational office professionals voted 82 percent in favor of their contract.

In all, 4,143 of SEA’s 6,000 members voted on their respective contracts.

SEA members went on strike on what would have been the first day of school, Sept. 7, and voted to suspend the strike on the fifth day after SPS and union leaders came to a tentative agreement. Students started school Wednesday.

The Seattle School Board still needs to vote on the contract for it to be finalized. If it’s not approved, negotiations will likely start again, but Superintendent Brent Jones — who has a background in human resources — said it’s rare for a board to vote down a contract.

It’s unclear when the board will vote on the contract. The next scheduled board meeting is Sept. 28, and they could hold a special meeting before then.

The contract will cost the district about $228 million over three years and add nearly $92 million to the already projected budget shortfalls. Questions from board members about how to balance the budget came up during last week’s regular board meeting. Options include dipping into the district’s rainy day funds and using federal pandemic relief dollars.

Under the proposed contract, SPS agreed to pay raises of 7 percent for both certificated and classified staff. Originally, the district proposed a 6.5 percent increase, which included a state-funded 5.5 percent inflationary adjustment.

In the second year of the contract, members would receive a 4 percent salary increase for inflation and 3 percent the following year. If the state funds a higher inflationary adjustment, union members will receive whichever is greater, the tentative agreement says.

SEA was fighting for more manageable caseloads and teacher-to-student ratios in the special education and multilingual programs. The union was able to maintain ratios while increasing the number of staff in classrooms to provide more support.

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