South Sound News

Classes canceled by paraeducators' strike in Bonney Lake, Sumner

SUMNER, Wash. — There's no school Friday for some students in Pierce County.

Paraeducators in the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District are now on strike.  In support, teachers in the Sumner Education Association voted to honor their picket lines and not show up for work.

Classes were canceled until further notice after the Sumner Paraeducator Association and the district could not reach a deal Thursday afternoon.

The district says contract negotiations have been ongoing on since June. The paraeducators' contract expired Aug. 31.

The Sumner Paraeducator Association says the proposed contract the district offered them falls short of the pay increases that were given the year before and their hourly pay ranks among the lowest compared to surrounding districts.

"We as teachers depend on our paraeducators to show up to work every single day. I can't do my job and neither can my colleagues without them,” said Bonney Lake Elementary teacher Leah Martin.

The district says despite the strike, they will still offer free meal programs, and most sports and after-school activities will still happen, but all middle school dances scheduled for Friday are canceled.

Picketing is expected to begin Friday morning.

A statement from the district follows:

"The District deeply values our paraeducators. We’ve been working hard and bargaining in good faith with para association representatives since June, with the desire to reach a fair resolution that’s within our financial means. Unfortunately, even with the assistance of a state mediator, we have not yet come to an agreement. The District is committed to bargaining until we have an agreement."

Parents can find specific information about the strike and child care options on the district's website.

Earlier this year, teachers and educators in multiple school districts went on strike or threatened to strike over their pay.

In September, Tukwila students were out of class briefly because of a strike.

Everett, Tacoma, Kennewick and Seattle teachers all got a pay raise in August after they went on strike or threatened to strike.

In January, Issaquah teachers got a raise after going to the picket line.