Members of Seattle's teachers union, the Seattle Education Association, rally outside district headquarters on August 21, 2019.
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Members of Seattle's teachers union, the Seattle Education Association, rally outside district headquarters on August 21, 2019.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Seattle teachers, still without a contract, rally at district headquarters

With school two weeks away for Seattle Public Schools, it’s down to the wire for the district and its teachers union to make a tentative agreement.

Dressed in red plastic ponchos, educators from across the district braved the rain to give speeches and sing labor anthems outside a school board meeting.

Bilingual instructional assistant Chelsey DiPasquale-Hunton said at Broadview-Thomson Elementary, where she works, they need a family support worker — a social worker who helps low-income students and their parents meet basic needs, like food, clothing and housing.

“What ends up happening is the rest of the staff that’s overworked tries to fill the role of the family support worker," said DiPasquale-Hunton.

Increasing student services like family support workers, nurses and counselors is a sticking point in the negotiations, said Phyllis Campano, president of the Seattle Education Association. So are pay and racial equity measures.

District spokesperson Tim Robinson said last week that the district will have no updates on the bargaining process until further notice.

He referred KUOW to an earlier written statement that said the district intends to offer teachers competitive salaries, but must also stay within its budget.

"We must ensure we don’t negatively impact students, especially those furthest from educational justice, with cuts to vital programs and services," wrote district spokesperson Carri Campbell.

A deadline in union bylaws requires that the bargaining team bring a proposal to members by Saturday, Campano said.

"We’ll know by Saturday late afternoon whether we have a tentative agreement," Campano said, "or whether we’ll go in and vote on an action plan."

An action like a possible strike.

That vote is set for 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.