SNOQUALMIE — The 2013-2014 school year will start as planned in Snoqualmie Valley Wednesday. But teachers will be working the first week without a contract. They may not work a second week, if a deal with the district is not reached.
Cheering broke out when the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association, the teachers’ union, announced the results of their vote Tuesday night: 291-8 in favor of a strike.
“It was pretty unanimous,” said John Coulon, who works at Twin Falls Middle School. “People are feeling that we’re not at the average of the surrounding school districts.”
The Snoqualmie Valley School District includes the communities of Snoqualmie, North Bend and Fall City and provides education to about 6,000 students.
The strike will not happen right away. Teachers will be in their classrooms for the first day of school Wednesday, while union representatives continue to negotiate with the district for a new contract. The new deadline for a deal is Sunday, with the teachers voting to strike Monday if they have no contract by then.
“We want to give the district another chance to hear us, collaborate with us,” said Lisa Radmer, SVEA president.
“I think we’re trying to be conscious that parents have needs, too,” added Coulon. “This gives them time to make arrangements for their kids.”
Kari Hull and her two kids want teachers to know that they’re behind them.
“To keep our good teachers, we need to do what’s right,” she said, as she held up a sign outside Mount Si High School.
Other parents agree that teachers have the right to push for more money and smaller classes.
“I think what they’re asking for is totally fair. I think they do need a pay raise, and we definitely need smaller class sizes,” said Dana Russell.
“I support them and think if they need to strike, they need to strike,” added Sara Lee.
The school district says they will start making plans for a possible strike next Monday. But they’re glad the year will start as planned Wednesday.
“We want our kids in school and I think most of the community wants that as well, and we have great hope that the bargaining teams will reach a solution,” said Carolyn Malcolm, the public information officer for the district.
Teachers are hoping for that, too.
“I feel good about going to work, I look forward to working with the kids,” said Coulon. “What I don’t feel good about is not being here Monday if we go on strike. I don’t think anyone in this room really wants to strike, but there comes a time when you have to be respected for what you do.”
Both sides will return to the negotiating table Wednesday afternoon. If a deal is not reached by 3 p.m. Sunday, teachers say there will not be school on Monday.