The teachers’ strike enters its eighth day on Tuesday, Sept. 6 after a weekend of negotiations between the Kent School District and the teachers’ union failed to reach a contract agreement.
“Kent School District (KSD) and the Kent Education Association (KEA) continued bargaining over the weekend,” according to a Sept. 5 district statement. “Unfortunately, an agreement has not been reached. Contracts and negotiations are highly complex matters and affect everyone both in the district and the greater Kent School District community.
“The bargaining teams are working to come to an agreement that is both sustainable and fiscally responsible to support our students, families, staff and KSD community. We are eager for school to begin and to see our students learning in classrooms.”
School has been out since Aug. 25 at the 42 schools and academies in the district that has nearly 24,000 students and 2,000 teachers.
The union’s primary goals are better pay, more mental health services for students and smaller class sizes and caseloads.
“We’re disappointed that we’re not quite there yet,” according to a Sept. 3 KEA statement. “We wish this weren’t the case. We wish it was such a great deal that we could call for a vote right away and go home to start getting ready for our first day of school. That’s where we all want to be.
“We’re trying to figure out how to help the district understand that our proposals are about making schools better for our students.
“We believe that — behind the frustration and hard feelings that sometimes come with negotiation — both sides share the goal of making sure each student gets individual attention and feels safe and supported in Kent schools.
“That’s why we’ve asked for more teachers, counselors, nurses and other staff in our schools. To make sure that no kid gets overlooked. To make sure there are enough people to help students when they need it.
“We think every kid deserves our A+ effort as a district.”
A group headed by mothers Jennifer Liggett Giampapa and Meg Heron continues to help provide free lunches to students. The group has lunches to be distributed at numerous schools on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (See list below). Community members and partners have funded the program that is not part of the Kent School District.
The group started the meals during the strike after it found out the district wouldn’t be providing free lunches.
The school district plans to have free meals for children starting Wednesday, Sept. 7, with details to be posted soon on the district’s website and social media accounts about times and locations, according to a district statement.