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Seattle teachers strike enters second day for 53,000 students; no contract talks scheduled

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SEATTLE -- Seattle Public Schools announced Wednesday afternoon that there will be no school for the second consecutive day as about 5,000 teachers continue their strike.

"Schools will be closed for a second day on Thurs., Sept. 10, as we continue negotiations with SEA. At this point, Seattle Public Schools is not seeking to resolve this issue in court," the school district said on its website.

District spokeswoman Stacy Howard said both sides would be back at the negotiating table Thursday morning and that the district is "hoping for a quick resolution."

But the Seattle Education Association had no plans to be at the table Thursday.

SEA spokesman Rich Wood on Wednesday night said, "Our two bargaining team leaders are meeting with the mediators tomorrow, but that’s just a meeting. Our bargaining team will be in the picket lines. They are ready and willing to bargain, but only if the school board is ready to offer a contract that addresses the big issues."

The strike in Washington's largest school district affects about 53,000 students.

Bargaining broke down Tuesday and the two sides did not negotiate Wednesday -- which was to have been the first day of school.

Teachers picketed at all 97 Seattle schools.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen, it’s kind of surreal that it's happening,” teacher Claire Dijulio said.

They are determined to stay out of the classrooms until they get the pay raise they are seeking.

“It’s not a greedy sense of we want more money so we can have an extravagant lifestyle, it’s in order to live in the community in which we teach,” Dijulio said.

With five years at Muir Elementary, Dijulio said she makes a little over $50,000 a year.

Para-educators make less.

“I make around $35,000 and so that is well below the area median income,” para-educator Amanda Cumbow said.

Educators want an 18% pay hike over three years.

But as of Wednesday night, the district said they have offered a nearly 9% pay hike over the same period.

“We are not saying we are never going to budge. It’s a pretty strong statement, that’s why it’s called negotiations,” Howard said.

“The district’s offer is very competitive; we have been in approximately the top three in statewide compensation,” Ballard High School Principal Keven Wynkoop said.

“The legislation has now given them the money. They do have the money, it is there,” Dijulio said.

Now 53,000 students and their families are caught in the middle of the first Seattle teachers strike in 30 years.

“There is nothing we can do about it,” parent Kelly Riegsecker said.

“They have to change the way they are treating teachers; they have to value them more,” student Yinjn Maile said.

Parents who spoke to Q13 FOX News on Wednesday say they are willing to scramble for last-minute child care, at least for now.

“We are going to the Queen Anne Community Center for a few days until it is resolved,” said one parent.

But when that resolution will come is anybody's guess.

 

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