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Seattle kids head back to school as educators ponder contract vote

caption: A sign outside Broadview-Thomson school in north Seattle on the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
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A sign outside Broadview-Thomson school in north Seattle on the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Kate Walters/KUOW photo

Seattle public school kids headed back to class Wednesday morning.

The start of school is a week later than expected and comes after educators suspended their strike Tuesday afternoon.

They still have to vote on whether to accept the new contract with the district. A tentative agreement was reached late on Monday.

If educators vote to reject the agreement, it’s possible the strike could resume.

Spokesperson Julie Popper said via email that the teacher’s union takes the process of ratifying the tentative agreement very seriously and wants to be sure every member has a chance to review it and cast a vote.

“We haven’t yet scheduled the vote but anticipate the weekend would be the soonest possible given our union bylaws,” Popper said.

At Broadview-Thomson K-8 in north Seattle, students seemed happy to be back in school.

They arrived with backpacks, anticipation, and some mixed feelings.

"This is my first day at school and I'm so excited,” said 5-year-old Nico Coronado. “I'm feeling a little bit nervous but it's still going to be fun for my first day.”

Nico’s mom, Juanita Coronado, said she supported the teachers’ strike and wanted them to get the resources they were asking for.

“When teachers are supported, kids are supported more,” she said.

But Coronado recognizes that strikes can be hard on people.

“We were lucky that we had child care and that we could support the teachers, but I know that wasn't the case for everybody,” she said.

Mhrat Gezehoi said the delayed start was tough, especially for single parents.

“It’s hard," she said. "I need to work.”

Gezehoi said her son was excited to go back to school and see his friends, so much so that they arrived early Wednesday.

Jordan Swanson, a special education assistant at Broadview-Thomson, said he feels good being back at school and he’s thankful for the community support received during the strike.

“I’m excited because we seem to have gotten a good deal,” he said.

Some educators have expressed that the contract isn’t perfect and perhaps falls short of demands in some areas. The agreement has not been released publicly yet.

Not all educators were on board with suspending the strike before the full tentative agreement with the district had been reviewed and accepted.

In the end, 57 percent of union members who voted Tuesday were in favor of ending it.

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