Seattle teachers rally along I-5 in support of negotiating better contracts

Seattle teachers rallied along I-5 Wednesday morning, asking for support in negotiating better contracts this school year.

The contracts are initially due in one week. The teachers used the visibility of a spot over I-5 to grab attention from people traveling in and out of Seattle.

Members from the Seattle Education Association, otherwise known as the Seattle Teacher's Union gathered at overpasses in Northgate and Albro.

The union said it and Seattle Public Schools have been negotiating since May.

The union told KIRO 7 the issues they've been focused on are teacher pay, racial equity, career growth and student care.

Last year the 5,500 union members and the district narrowly averted a walkout by teachers after an almost 11 percent pay increase for teachers was approved.

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Seattle Public Schools provided KIRO 7 with this statement:

"Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association are bargaining a new contract that will begin next school year, 2019-20. The district continues to bargain in good faith and we look to SEA to continue to join us at the table for productive conversations. It is our goal to start our school year on time and look forward to continuing to partner with SEA to eliminate opportunity gaps for students and to provide excellence in education for every one of our more than 53,000 students.

Seattle Public Schools works hard to balance our budget and fairly compensate our hard-working staff. Last year we were able to provide a 10.5 percent salary increase to all our teachers and classified staff. A first-year teacher with a master's degree earns $69,800 for the 185-day school year at Seattle Public Schools and we pay the highest salary in the state to our paraeducators. We are actively comparing our salaries to neighboring districts and have every intention of remaining competitive, but we have to balance that against what we can afford and our fiscal responsibility. We must ensure we don't negatively impact students, especially those furthest from educational justice, with cuts to vital programs and services. We hope SEA will continue to have authentic and transparent conversations about compensation and the reality of the district's budget. We ask the SEA to focus on bargaining with the district, with a goal to start school on time for our students and families."