Seattle teachers picket on what would have been first day of school

Seattle, WA — Wednesday was supposed to be the first day of the school year for the largest district in the state, but Seattle Public Schools and the teachers union have yet to reach an agreement.

50,000 students with the Seattle Public School district got to sleep in Wednesday morning, but not educators. Despite the first day of school being canceled teachers were up bright an early getting their steps in on the picket line.

“We all want to be in school, but our kids are important and so that’s why we are out here. We want them to have the supports they need,” said Becky Shipe, a librarian at Sanislo Elementary School.

The president of the Seattle Education Association says the district has failed to agree to a contract that adequately staffs Special Education and Multilingual Learners, limits caseloads and workloads, and that provides pay that allows educators to live in the city where they work.

“I know a lot of educators who commute at least 30 minutes if not an hour and a half, sometimes two depends on how far they are out,” said SEA president, Jennifer Matter.

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“Imagine a community that continues to support students and families every day, that is what we are trying to accomplish,” said Dr. Brent Jones, SPS superintendent.

Matter says the bargaining team was working till midnight and says they took a break and were back at it at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Parents like Kenton Kodner who has two kids in the district appreciates the long hours educators are putting in.

“My daughter receives special education support and I’ve seen throughout the pandemic the number of students needing reading interventionists and other support,” said Kodner.

He says his family is one of many who has been patient when it comes to receiving special education support.

“Over the course of the last few years I’ve seen the difficulty of us getting support, you know having to wait for our IPS meetings and just placing out of services because of the lack of support,” said Kodner.