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Bellingham Teachers Strike

Phyllis Fletcher

Teachers in Bellingham went on strike Friday. School there is scheduled to start Tuesday. The teachers' bargaining team is in talks this hour (Friday, 4:00 p.m.) with the Bellingham School District. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher reports.


Spokespeople for the Bellingham District have said in published reports the big issue is money. Shirley Potter is a spokesperson for the union that represents Bellingham teachers. She says:

Potter: "This strike really isn't about compensation, though you probably heard it was."

Potter says the big issues are about the non-classroom part of a teacher's job -- whether that time can be used for planning, like the union wants, or if teachers have to do professional development, grading and parent conferences during that time.

Very similar to issues the Bellevue District settled with its teachers this week.

Potter says the same thing the union president in Bellevue said.

Potter: "Everything our teachers do right now is way beyond the work day that we are scheduled to be part of."

In general, principals and administrators admit that, too. So when contracts come around, a new task or a new way of using non-classroom time can be a point of contention.

The Bellingham School District says it has offered to make up the difference for salary the state Legislature cut this year and to give a 1 percent raise next year. They also say salary is still in negotiation.

I'm Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW News.

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