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Striking teachers in Seattle have reached a tentative deal with the school district

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

After almost a week on the picket lines, Seattle teachers have reached a tentative deal with the school district. The Seattle Education Association, the teachers union, voted this afternoon to end the strike. Liliana Fowler from member station KNKX has more.

LILIANA FOWLER, BYLINE: The strike started on what was supposed to be the first day of school.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLES HONKING)

FOWLER: After a rough couple of years full of pandemic disruptions, it was not an ideal start to the school year, but the teachers union says it had an important fight to win. The union says the tentative agreement for a three-year contract maintains or improves student-teacher ratios in special education classes. It also adds mental health support for students and includes raises. The higher pay is especially important to paraprofessionals or teacher's aides like Nicole Bonora. She's a special education aide in the district. She's also a parent. Bonura was one of thousands of teachers and other staff in the school district listening in on a Zoom meeting this morning, reviewing a summary of the tentative agreement. Bonura says it was one of the most-attended union meetings she's ever seen. Even though she's getting a raise, she says, for her, the fight wasn't just about the money.

NICOLE BONORA: If we really want to be inclusionary, and if we really are pushing for equity and educational justice, then we need to support all our students. And that starts with your students that have the most challenges, the most hurdles.

FOWLER: Bonura says her son, who is about to be a high school freshman, volunteered during the strike but was mostly stuck at home.

BONORA: As a parent, I'm feeling like I really want my kid to go back to school. As an educator, I feel relieved that I'm not worse off than I was before.

FOWLER: Seattle Public Schools says it's not commenting on the tentative agreement, but that the district is looking forward to the start of the school year. For NPR News, I'm Liliana Fowler in Seattle. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lilly Ana Fowler
Lilly Ana Fowler reports on social justice issues for KNKX. Before joining KNKX, she worked for the online news organization Crosscut — a partner of KCTS 9, Seattle’s PBS station. She's also worked as a producer with the national PBS show "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" and a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Salon.com, Slate Magazine, Mother Jones, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. She was born in Mexico, grew up in the border town of Nogales, and is fluent in Spanish.