Settlement in Seattle
Public-school teachers ended a three-week strike in Seattle last week, but school officials are warning that the cost of the settlement could force cuts in some programs during the next school year.
The $8.4-million one-year contract--approved by the city's teachers in a voice vote on Sept. 28--reduced the 43,500-student district's budget reserve by 60 percent, a spokesman for the district said last week.
"The board's major concern about this settlement is that they had to take $8.4 million from a $13-million reserve to finance it," said James R. Hawkins, a spokesman for the Seattle Public Schools. "They are saying that we're looking at a potential decline in state revenues. We don't have reserves to carry this program a second year."
"If we don't see a fairly substantial change in the way that state money is distributed, there may be fairly substantial program reductions next year," said Mr. Hawkins.
Spokesmen for the Seattle Education Association could not be reached for comment last week.
According to Mr. Hawkins, the centerpiece of the contract is a new $3-million fund designed to provide additional money to city schools that have disproportionate percentages of special-needs students.
Mr. Hawkins explained that the funds would be distributed on the basis of a point system that takes into account the number of such students in each school. Teachers and building administrators would then decide how to use the money.
In addition, the contract sets aside $3.7 million to give teachers the option of working up to three and a half additional days at $225 a day, and another $1 million to provide teachers with stipends of up to $250 each for classroom supplies and materials.
As of late last week, teachers remained on strike in seven school districts in Pennsylvania and in districts in Illinois and Ohio.--tm
Vol. 05, Issue 06