FERNDALE, Wash. - Teachers in the Ferndale School District are carrying picket signs not text books on what should have been the first day of classes.
More than 90 percent of the teachers who voted Tuesday morning said yes to a strike.
Ferndale Education Association President Tracie Morris says the sticking point is more planning time for elementary school teachers.
"We've been asking for years and years for more planning time so that we can prepare quality instruction for our students," said Morris. "We have 120 minutes per week, where everyone else gets 150 plus."
The school district says giving teachers more prep time will cost nearly $500,000. Ferndale School District Superintendent Linda Quinn says the district can't afford it.
The District says providing more classroom planning time would cost half a million dollars which the district can't afford.
"Time costs money. We would have to hire four teachers to fill in."
Another issue is health insurance choices.
Ferndale School Superintendent Linda Quinn says the district is close to reaching an agreement with striking teachers.
But, The Bellingham Herald reports, a Tuesday afternoon bargaining session with a mediator yielded no progress.
The Ferndale School District has about 5,000 students at 11 schools.
Schools will be closed but sports programs will open as planned.
The school district may go to court to get an injunction if the strike isn't settled by Friday.