Puyallup teachers picket outside of district schools

PUYALLAUP, Wash. -- Puyallup teachers picketed Wednesday for hours outside of schools across the district on what was supposed to be the first day of classes.

The teachers are striking against the district for the first time ever. The reason is disagreements over how much money teachers should be paid.

For months, the Puyallup Education Association and the district have been negotiating, but no decision was made in time for the start of classes.

So instead of teaching on Wednesday, teachers, like Sandy Monaghan, marched back and forth on the sidewalks outside of their schools.

“We wanted to be with our kids today, we wanted to be with our students,” she said.

Monaghan has worked with the Puyallup School District for nearly two decades as a teacher; this is her first time working as a picketing captain.

“If you would have told me this this summer, I would have never thought we would not be able to find resolution with our district,” said Monaghan.

She says she and the other teachers are being presented with an unfair situation, which is making them consider big changes.

“I honestly want to stay here. I want to live and work in my community and be part of my community, have my students see me at the grocery store, have my students see me at the mall, and being part of that and realizing that I’m part of their community. I think that’s really important for kids to see,” said Monaghan.

However, she says if she has to, she will leave the school district.

Monaghan and dozens picketed Puyallup High School. Across the street, at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, others were supporting the teachers' cause in more ways than one.

The church allowed teachers to use their facilities, like bathrooms, because during the strike, teachers are not allowed on school property.

However, the church did more than that. Amy Scwheim and several other high school students worked an impromptu camp for parents who need child care during the strike.

“It will be exhausting, there is no doubt about it, but we’ll do what we need to do,” said Scwheim.

Scwheim is the director of community events for the church. She says the church realized parents in the area might need a place for the children to go if the strike happened.

The church is prepared to care for upward of 75 kids, charging $35 per day and offering a scheduled day of activities.

“We support them in the work stoppage, hope it doesn’t last too long, but we support them,” said Scwheim.

School officials announced Puyallup Schools will be canceled again Thursday while bargaining continues.