** UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 8, 2013, 9:10PM:
Although technically on strike at their 7PM union meeting, the Snoqualmie Valley teachers’ contract was ratified by a “lukewarm” 59% of union members – 174 votes yes to 120 votes no.
According to the contract, the debated elementary class size target is kindergarten: 25 students; grades 1-3: 27 students; and 4-5 grade is 29. Any class size higher than the target number will “trigger” relief for the teacher. “Target” does not mean the district will aim to have classes of this size, but is a number that once exceeded, triggers extra compensation for teachers, either monetarily or with extra class assistance.
SVEA union stated a day after the vote, “The trigger numbers for elementary school classes are too high to guarantee quality instruction in our classrooms.”
Snoqualmie Elementary School 2nd grade teacher, Nate Ziemkowski, commented, “I’m conflicted. The class size numbers are not what I or many others were hoping for, but it is a start. And I’m proud our community sent a strong message that class size matters. Now we need to bring the same message to Olympia. Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing my students tomorrow.”
Snoqualmeie Valley schools are open on schedule Monday, September 9th. **
In the 11th hour it appears negotiators for the Snoqualmie Valley School District and its teacher’s union, SVEA, came to terms on a tentative contract agreement and avoided an impending teachers strike.
The teacher’s union voted to strike at 3PM today, September 8, 2013, if it didn’t have a new contract.
Negotiators for both sides met Wednesday – Sunday, for approximately 20 hours, and finally reached a deal. Elementary class size was the sticking point for teachers – and what the last two days of contract talks focused on.
SVEA union members will meet tonight at approximately 7PM to vote on the proposed tentative agreement. According to the union website, “If the settlement is ratified by the vote of the membership, SVEA will NOT be on strike.”
If teachers approve the contract offer, school will be in session tomorrow, September 9th, continuing the school year uninterrupted.
The SVSD website says that at this time, they expect schools to be open and operating on a normal schedule tomorrow. School Board President, Scott Hodgins, commented, “I am hopeful teachers will ratify the contract and school will continue on Monday.”
Information about the teachers’ contract agreement will be posted to the district website after the union and school board approve it, if/when that happens.