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With No New Talks Set, Seattle Teachers Strike Will Stretch Into Third Day

Kyle Stokes
Seattle Education Association members and their supporters return to picketing for the second day of a teachers strike that's shut down Washington state's largest school district.

Negotiators for both the Seattle teachers union and the school district dug in their heels on Thursday as each side painted the other as unwilling to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a new teacher contract.

The stalemate will once again close Seattle Public Schools on Friday, extending into a third day a teachers strike that's keeping 53,000 students out of classes.

Although district and union representatives met separately with state mediators Thursday, both sides' full negotiating teams have not met at the bargaining table since Tuesday afternoon. Union leaders repeated their call for district officials to make a new offer before resuming negotiations.

"The district should give us an indication they're taking our proposal seriously to get us back at the table," said Leschi Elementary teacher Michael Tamayo, a member of the Seattle Education Association's bargaining team. "We're ready to bargain. We're just looking for the indication from the district they're willing to as well."

Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Stacy Howard said the district's negotiating team plans to be available to resume bargaining through the weekend if the union is willing to meet.

"We feel like we made a fair offer, a fair counter-offer, and we have not received one back," Howard said.

Both sides remain divided over how much to increase teacher pay, and over a district proposal to lengthen the student instructional day.

Instead of picketing on Friday, the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, union members plan to take part of in service projects in their schools' neighborhoods.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.