SNOQUALMIE VALLEY – Snoqualmie Valley teachers prepared to strike as negotiations continued in the district office late into Saturday night.
Unified teachers made posters and picket signs getting ready to strike on Monday if a deal is not made by Sunday.
“They need more time with their students,” said Snoqualmie Valley Education Association President Lisa Radmer.
The 11th hour bargaining between the union and the district is focused on elementary class sizes.
“Last year we had classes with 30 to 33 third graders and fifth graders, that is just too many,” said Radmer.
The district says hiring more teachers is not an option. Teachers with large class sizes instead could be offered more planning time or an additional $1,800 a year.
“Teachers have been fairly clear they don’t need more pocket money for more kids in their classroom,” said Radmer.
Some parents say they are backing the teachers all the way.
“Teachers are looking out for their best interest and want to make sure what is best for them,” said parent Shyanne Olsen.
Parent Dan Gelhaye also wants smaller class sizes but he doesn’t agree with a strike.
“It’s really disruptive to parents’ schedules and kids,” said Gelhaye.
He says the timing of negotiations should change for good.
“Have these contracts expire in the spring when the kids are getting out of school as opposed to the fall, I understand teachers use that as leverage but it’s not really fair to everyone involved,” said Gelhaye.
If there is no school on Monday Gelhaye says it will be hard to explain the situation to his 8 year-old after three days of school already getting to know new friends and teachers.
“Waiting and hoping,” said Gelhaye.
But teachers are promising to strike if there is no deal by 3 p.m. Sunday.
On Friday teachers packed away their classrooms and walked out with their belongings in case of a strike. The two sides so far have come to the middle one one issue so far. The district has offered teachers a 6% pay increase over the next three years. The union says that they are not fighting those figures.
The negotiations started at noon Saturday and ended at 9 p.m. without an agreement. The two sides will be back at the bargaining table at 9 a.m. Sunday.