Will they or won’t they? That seems to be the question floating around regarding Lake Stevens teachers and a possible upcoming strike.
As of last Friday, Aug. 28, Lake Stevens Education Association, the local teacher’s union, and Lake Stevens School District were still in talks trying to reach an agreement pertaining to the new teacher’s contract. Both sides were meeting yesterday and will continue to meet throughout the week. The teams have been meeting since May and have reached tentative agreement on 45 different issues. Yet to be agreed on are financial issues including pay increases, class size and planning time.
All three issues carry a significant financial impact to the district’s budget. The Washington Education Association sent out a statement last Friday saying that the LSEA will not return to school until an agreement has been made and a contract has been signed.
“By a vote of nearly 88 percent, Lake Stevens teachers have said they will go on strike unless they have a new contract,” WSEA said in the statement. “School is scheduled to start Sept. 8 in Lake Stevens. Teacher planning time, parent conferences, compensation and smaller class sizes are among the major issues that remain unresolved. The LSEA and the Lake Stevens School District administration have been in negotiations since May.” Lake Stevens School District is hopeful that a contract will be agreed upon soon.
“We completely understand that our teachers do not want to work without a contract – we don’t want them to work without a contract either,” Arlene Hulten, Director of Communications for the Lake Stevens School District said. “Our negotiating teams have made good progress over the course of their meetings and we remain hopeful that we will settle this contract in time for our students to go to school on Sept. 8.”
Due to the State deficit and subsequent cuts to education funding across the state, the Lake Stevens School District has had to implement four million dollars in cuts in order to balance the 2009-2010 budget. Even in these difficult economic times the district and the LSEA have made good progress in a number of areas and have had thoughtful discussions about how to solve mutual problems.
Lake Stevens teachers have gone on strike twice in the last 11 years. Kelly Snow, President of the LSEA could not be reached for comment.
Information regarding negotiation progress and contract settlement will be posted on the district’s web page at www.lkstevens.wednet.edu on a regular basis.