Seattle schools canceled for second day as teachers strike over pay, hours

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2015 3:50 AM

(Reuters) - Seattle's public school teachers were set to strike for a second day on Thursday, delaying the start of the school year for some 53,000 students as talks about wages, hours and performance evaluations collapsed.

Seattle educators and support staff took to picket lines on Wednesday for the first time in three decades on what should have been the first day of the school year.

The walkout by the 5,000-member teachers' union was the latest upheaval in Washington state's public education system following court cases challenging charter schools and classroom funding.

Classes were canceled again on Thursday in almost 100 public schools and the district said on its website there would be "no school until further notice."

"Seattle Public Schools appreciates our teachers and educators. We are diligently working to reach a fair agreement that puts students first, honors teachers, but is also fiscally sound," the statement said.

The two sides remained at odds over issues ranging from pay to performance to class size, said Rich Wood, a spokesman for the union, the Seattle Education Association,

The strike comes after Washington's top court ruled last week that state charter schools are illegal. In a separate ruling last month, it fined the state $100,000 per day for failing to put forward a plan to fully fund education.

Seattle Public Schools offered a proposed contract that included $62 million in wage increases. The teachers' union wants $172 million in increases.

The union also said the district was insisting on extending the school day by 30 minutes without paying teachers and staff for their time, and that teachers had gone about six years without a cost-of-living pay increase, while rents have been skyrocketing.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Kevin Liffey)