Major changes ahead for Seattle students pending new contract ratification

SEATTLE -- With the teachers strike over, there are some major changes ahead for 53,000 Seattle students.

Many teachers say they are satisfied with the district’s 9.5% pay hike over three years, but there are other key changes besides pay that directly impacts students.

The tentative agreement still has to be ratified by the entire union membership but its leaders are calling the upcoming changes groundbreaking.

“Where have you ever heard of educators who put recess in their contracts? It is so important for kids to get their bodies ready to learn,” teacher Phyllis Campano said.

All elementary school kids will get 30 minutes of recess.

There will be less testing for students, giving teachers more say on optional testing.
Also, test scores will no longer be linked to teacher evaluations.

“I do agree it is groundbreaking for everybody involved,” parent Yvonne McPherson said.

McPherson also believes the restrictions on workloads will increase one-on-one time between students and educators.

“We want to give our students the best we can that is why we worked on caseloads and workloads, as educators we are worked to the bone,” teacher Laura Lehni said.

As the teachers' union declares victory, the district is still looking for a way to make up the six missed school days. Also unresolved is where the extra money for the pay hikes will come from.

But teachers like Robinson are now focused on the present, not the past.
Teachers have one day to get into teaching mode.

“A little bit of anxiety because it is just so quick but I did get myself prepared so I am ready to go,” Robinson said.

“No no hard feelings,” teacher Shelly Kees said.

With the district’s push, teachers have also agreed to add 20 more minutes to their workday by the third year of the contract.

The teachers will gather Sunday to vote on the new contract.