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So far, seven districts on strike, more possible. Should the negotiations be more transparent?

The Washington Education Association reports that as of yesterday, an “unprecedented” seven local school districts were on strike.

WEA members in seven school districts were on strike today – six of them in Clark County in Southwest Washington.

This map shows both the strikes and the best local contract settlements.

 

Teachers are on strike in Vancouver, Evergreen, Ridgefield, Hockinson, Battle Ground, Washougal and Longview.

This is unprecedented.

For more on strikes happening, strikes authorized, strikes averted, and negotiations still ongoing, see the KGW8 School Tracker. As we mentioned previously, things move swiftly and negotiators on both sides would doubtless prefer resolution soon. Surely, Seattle parents are not the only ones frustrated with the lack of communication from their district.

It’s unclear to some parents, though, why the typically communicative Seattle Public Schools officials appear to have gone radio silent on the subject.

There’s no guarantee teachers actually will strike, but it’s an option their union approved Tuesday in case a deal isn’t struck soon on a new contract with Seattle Public Schools. Still, the possibility that a walkout could cancel classes next week prompted some families to coordinate emergency child-care plans with relatives and neighbors, while others wondered why they had heard nothing from the school district about what to expect.

The Seattle Times reports negotiations are ongoing.

Negotiations between the school district and the teachers union failed to produce a contract Wednesday, bringing Seattle Public Schools one day closer to the brink of a potential strike.

The district and the Seattle Education Association union have met about 22 times since May to work out the terms of a new contract. Despite missing the Aug. 25 deadline for a contract, which triggered the union’s Tuesday evening vote to authorize a strike, both parties reported Wednesday that negotiations are proceeding in good faith.

The Kent School District settled and school started on time today. Details were still unknown when the Seattle Times published the news.

“The next two years will still be difficult as the District works to maintain their fiscal responsibility, but with these salaries, we hope to be able to continue to attract and retain quality educators!” the union wrote online before its general assembly meeting that took place Wednesday, when the agreement was approved by teachers.

District and union officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, and no further details about the contract were available.

And the Spokane collective bargaining means the district will spend more than it takes in next year, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The Spokane Public Schools board approved a new operating budget Wednesday night offering a strong clue that its teachers and classified staff may soon receive significant raises.

Minutes after emerging from a 90-minute closed session, the board unanimously endorsed a budget for 2018-19 that includes $465 million in expenditures.

The number represents a sharp increase over earlier projections.

A preliminary budget presented to the board on June 27 included only $442 million in projected expenses. And two weeks ago, on Aug. 15, documents prepared for a budget-planning workshop forecast expenditures of $444 million.

All this adds fuel to concern about transparency and sustainability in public employee contract negotiations, an issue again raised by the Seattle Times editorial board.

More transparency is needed in public contract bargaining, especially as the state of Washington implements historic and costly reforms of its education system.

This is underscored by stalled teacher-contract negotiations in Seattle and some other districts statewide. Lacking information of what’s happening in secret negotiations, the public is left with rhetoric that adds to confusion about McCleary education reforms enacted this year…

This isn’t a question of whether teachers should get raises. They should, and they will. What’s critical to McCleary’s success is that districts provide raises that are sustainable under the new funding approach. If districts make unsustainable contracts as a tactic to upend McCleary, they’ll jeopardize public support for any supplemental levies and bond issues.

Right.