SNOQUALMIE, Wash. - Fifty-nine percent of the teachers in the Snoqualmie Valley School District approved a new contract Sunday night. That means they won't go on strike Monday morning.
However, there was some bitterness and disappointment over the compromise that finally came together. Chemistry teacher Ken Hagler said "It's like I'm in an abusive relationship and I can't get a restraining order."
Class size was the big sticking point in contract negotiations. The teachers said there was no language in the previous contract limiting class size in elementary schools. As many as 33 students were being crammed into portable classrooms.
The new contract still doesn't have class size limits. Instead, it offers teachers some relief if class size climbs above certain levels. The options are either more pay, or more planning time, or more aide time.
That relief would kick in when there are 26 or more students in a Kindergarten class, 28 or more students in grades one through three, and 30 or more in grades four and five.
Teachers union president Lisa Radmer was asked if extra pay, planning time, or aide time were in fact penalties for the district. She said, "you could say that. It makes it difficult for them to just keep putting kids in our classes."
A spokesperson for the school district said the contract agreement was financially a stretch for the district.
"We will need to look at our budgeting priorities over the next few years and make some adjustments to make this happen," Carolyn Malcomb said.
There are 350 teachers in the Snoqualmie Valley School District and about 6,200 students. It serves the communities of Fall City, Snoqualmie, North Bend, and students living as far east as Snoqualmie Pass.