Education

Wash. Strike Pushes Classes Into July

By Bess Keller — October 01, 2004 1 min read

When teachers in Marysville, Wash., complied with a court order to get back to work last fall, they ended a 49-day strike—the longest for teachers in state history.

The strike kept the schools in the 11,000-student district 35 miles north of Seattle closed for seven weeks and pushed the school year into late July.

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Bad Blood

During negotiations, the Marysville Education Association fought the addition of workdays and the imposition of the state’s salary scale, which would have shifted money to newer teachers over veterans. Teachers also wanted better pay and benefits.

District leaders argued that Marysville teachers were among the best-paid in the state, and they maintained that money was needed elsewhere in a district struggling to raise student achievement.

Two weeks after the strike ended, local voters replaced three incumbent school board members with newcomers endorsed by the National Education Association affiliate. The five-member board bought out the superintendent’s contract in March.

By then, the district faced a $2 million-plus shortfall in its $81 million budget, some of it related to steeper-than-expected enrollment declines traced to the strike.

The parties finally agreed to a pact in April. It gave teachers only modest raises, but did not impose the state salary schedule or add workdays. Layoff notices went to about 50 teachers in May; most have been recalled by now.

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