Tacoma schools, teachers' union in contract standoff




Posted on August 29, 2011 at 7:12 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 29 at 5:26 PM

TACOMA, Wash. -- In three days, school starts in Tacoma, but the school district and the teachers' union continue to fight over a new teacher contract.

Hundreds of teachers met Monday afternoon at Tahoma High School for an update on the contract negotiations. School signs around Tacoma still say school starts on September 1, yet negotiators have not yet reached a new deal.

On Wednesday, teachers could vote to strike or work without a new contract.  Some teachers said they don't want to go on strike, but think it is a possibility.

Both sides are having a tough time agreeing upon three major issues: class size, salary and new classroom policies.

The school district wants to add up to two more students per classroom and cut teachers' salaries up to 1.9 percent. But last week, the school district said it was surprised and frustrated when the teachers' union asked for a pay increase and less kids in class.

Teachers say the district has a $45 million surplus so the district has options.

"They could give us a pay raise and save money at the same time. They could eliminate the four district optional days and then put a moratorium on adopting any new curriculum," said one man.

Another issue that has teachers fired up is a new classroom management policy. The union claims administrators are trying to micromanage how teachers teach.

More than 2,000 teachers are affect by this new three year contract, with some 28,000 students in the district.

The teachers union plans to hold a community forum Tuesday about the school district's budget. The meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. at Jason Lee Middle School in Tacoma and is open to the public.