SPS-SEA Bargaining Update No. 4
Dear Parents and Community,
The Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Seattle Education Association (SEA) are negotiating to achieve a new collective bargaining agreement. SEA represents our educators, substitutes, paraprofessionals, instructional assistants and office professionals. The current contract with SEA expired Tuesday and school is scheduled to start next Wednesday.
We are optimistic for an agreement because both SEA and SPS want the same thing; excellent teachers who receive competitive compensation to provide quality instruction time with students. Due to the importance of this contract, I want to keep you updated on our progress. Previous updates were sent to parents and community on August 10, 20 and 28.
The School Day and Student Learning Time
Our students need more time with our teachers, who are among the best in the nation. If we can ensure students have more instructional time with effective teachers, student learning and outcomes will advance significantly. This is important for all students and essential for those who struggle or face challenges and need teacher support to achieve their true potential.
The district has asked teachers to extend the student day, more time for PE, arts music etc., and proposes additional collaboration time within their work-day, in addition to their individual planning time. Other districts that have provided more instructional time to student learning have seen significant gains in student achievement.
Research shows quality teaching, along with additional instruction time helps reduce the opportunity gap. Seattle has less instructional time than most school districts in the state. You can see a comparison of instructional time among Washington state school districts in this document adapted from the Spokane School District.
We want to work with SEA to provide this extremely valuable time for students, and for educators. The district is committed to compensating teachers for this time with a salary increase.
Our teachers and staff are dedicated and hardworking, and salary increases are extremely important to attract and retain the quality of teachers and staff our students need and deserve. So, even when the state was unable to provide Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) the last two years, Seattle Public Schools worked to provide salary increases to ensure teachers are compensated for their work.
This year the state has provided a COLA for the first time in many years, which SEA and the district agree is needed and deserved. The district has proposed a 13 percent salary increase (including the state COLA) over the next three years in exchange for more instructional time with students. This ensures teachers will be among the third highest paid in the state according to OSPI. A Seattle Times analysis, which appeared in the May 9, 2015 article “Wildly varying teacher salaries part of state budget debate,” this spring shows teacher salaries across the Puget Sound region. SEA has proposed a salary increase of 22.8 percent over the same three year contract period, including the state COLA.
SEA and SPS met Monday and Tuesday. During Tuesday’s session, the district requested to bring in a mediator to assist with the process in an effort to achieve an agreement and start school on time. SEA has agreed to a mediator, but will not return to the bargaining table until Friday.
Per SEA’s request, bargaining has been suspended. SEA has scheduled a meeting of their membership Thursday evening at Benaroya Hall to vote on a union action. The district team remains eager and available to meet with the SEA team, day or night, before and after the SEA vote, in order to make every effort to reach agreement before the start of school.
Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) can be complex. In an effort to provide context and transparency, the district has posted the SEA and SPS proposals in which the two teams are the farthest apart in perspectives on our website.
These deal with salary compensation, partnership and equity teams, and the school calendar. We are eager to bargain with SEA for a contract which honors and respects our educators and instructional staff in schools, who are absolutely critical to student success and closing the opportunity gap. I will continue to update you on the status of our bargaining efforts and our progress together.