The Seattle Education Association suspended its weeklong strike following a tentative agreement on a three-year contract with Seattle Public Schools.
Of the 78% of union members who voted, 57% approved a motion to suspend the strike, SEA said in a tweet on Tuesday. Classes will begin for SPS students Wednesday, Sept. 14.
The contract includes teacher raises, “improved and maintained” special education teaching ratios, and baseline mental health staffing for all schools, according to a statement by SEA. Further details about the agreement are not publicly available until it is ratified. Details on the ratification vote are expected later this week, according to SEA.
The strike delayed the first day of school, initially planned for Sept. 7, for the district’s 50,000 students after SEA’s contract expired Aug. 31 with the union and district at an impasse.
“We made real progress not only in our contract but also in rallying with our community these past several weeks,” SEA said in a statement. “After two incredibly difficult years impacted by COVID and so much more, it is beautiful to know that the community love and support for educators and our public schools is as strong as ever.”
SEA’s key priorities for the contract were to focus on support for students in special education and multilingual education in schools with the highest needs, cap class sizes and workloads to help prevent teacher burnout, and provide competitive pay to educators.
“A special thank you to our educators who are the backbone of our school district. They work hard every day supporting our students and families,” the district said in a statement announcing the tentative agreement. “We are proud to move in a direction that will better meet the needs of our students and staff.”
The end to the Seattle strike follows several other strikes and lawsuits nationwide as the 2022-23 school year began.
In late August, the Columbus Education Association in Ohio ended a weeklong strike that caused Columbus City Schools to switch to remote learning for the first few days of the school year. The agreement between the union and district in Columbus brought salary increases for teacher recruitment and retention, phasing in of reduced class sizes, and plans for buildings with climate-controlled learning spaces.