A proposal to drop a plan for increased class sizes hasn’t been enough to bridge the gap between Seattle Public Schools and the teachers’ union as the two sides try to bang out a contract agreement prior to the planned start of the school year next week.
The teachers’ Seattle Education Association meets again Monday night to discuss the status of negotiations.
The district has detailed the issues being wrangled over in the contracts talk in this letter from Superintendent Jose Banda:
Dear Seattle Public Schools community,
There is no more important endeavor than the education of our students. We all share a common value that every student deserves access and opportunity to an excellent public education.
I am writing to provide you with an update on negotiations with our labor association partner, Seattle Education Association (SEA). The current contract was approved in 2010 and expires on August 31. We have been negotiating since spring and are committed to continuing discussions with SEA. We are hopeful that a fair agreement will be reached that focuses on the best interests of our students. We have been working to reach an agreement that supports increased achievement for all of our students and our collective commitment to close the achievement gap.
We know that teachers are the most important factor in increasing student achievement. We want nothing more than to work collaboratively with them towards our common goals. Teachers play a critical role in ensuring that each and every student graduates prepared for college, career and life.
Below are some of the highlights of the Seattle Public Schools proposal to Seattle Education Association:
We are committed to providing a fair and competitive wage that compares favorably with other districts in the region. Our proposal includes a 4% salary increase over the next two years. In addition, we are fully restoring a 1.3% salary reduction that was mandated by the state legislature.
No class size increase:
We have removed our proposal to increase class size. Despite our capacity management challenges, class size will not be increasing in this contract. We listened to our educators’ concerns around the importance of keeping our classrooms as small as possible.
During negotiations SPS and SEA jointly developed an improved service delivery model for students with special needs. This model will better serve students and increase compliance with state and federal requirements. Students will have the supports necessary to access the general education curriculum in the least restrictive environment possible. There will be additional supports and professional development for all teachers throughout the district.
Student Support Services:
Our proposal makes a significant investment in additional staff such as psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, speech pathologists and nurses. These staff members provide important support services to students. The addition of more of these individuals to the teaching team will contribute to closing the achievement gap.
Length of work day:
We have proposed a restoration of the working day for elementary school teachers and certificated SEA staff to be a total of 7.5 hours. This additional 30 minutes will provide more time for planning and collaboration around activities such as reviewing the progress of individual students. Our secondary teachers already work a 7.5 hour day. Our proposal would bring our elementary teachers’ work day in line with K-12 teachers in districts across our region.
In 2010, SPS and SEA collectively bargained a new evaluation system. We established a shared definition of effective teaching practice by adopting common standards using the Charlotte Danielson framework. We utilize student growth measures as part of the evaluation process.
Since that time, we have seen gains in student achievement and a narrowing of the achievement gap. We want to keep the evaluation system in place and maintain the momentum toward our goal of success for every student.
We collaboratively developed a model evaluation system that has received accolades across the country for our innovative approach. We will continue to advocate for a professional growth and evaluation system that elevates teaching practice and ensures a high-quality teacher in every classroom.
We are committed to reaching a fair agreement that serves our common mission of ensuring that every child succeeds.