Kelso teachers are going on strike - KPTV - FOX 12

Kelso teachers are going on strike

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KELSO, WA (KPTV) -

It’s official: Kelso teachers are going on strike after contract negotiations ended without an agreement Tuesday evening.

Both sides will come back to the bargaining table at 10 a.m. Wednesday, as teachers across the district plan to hit the picket lines between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. at their respective schools.

At this point, classes have only been canceled for Wednesday, but students and teachers will not be returning to their classrooms until a deal is reached.

“We fully support the strike, we fully support the teachers,” said Kelso mother Jennifer Osborn, who plans to bring her kids to the picket lines.  “These are the people that take care of our kids, teach our kids, form their brains, minds, everything else… [Kids] spend more hours a day with their teachers than they do at home during the school year, and if we can’t put more importance on the teachers and their salaries, then what are we asking for?  It’s just sad.”

Teachers argue that they haven’t had a raise in six years, but are facing rising workloads and longer school days.

In a letter sent home to parents Tuesday, the Kelso School District said it is “committed to paying teachers a competitive salary while effectively managing its other fiscal responsibilities. We deeply value our teachers and hope that any work stoppage will be brief.”

According to the district website, several sticking points have been resolved, but these three remain: “compensation around workload, due process rights for employees, and length of contract.”

“It’s a very tough situation,” said Kelso parent Carolyn Olsen.  “As parents, we would love for our teachers to have anything and everything they want.  It’s just that Kelso is kind of economically depressed and people’s pockets aren’t as deep as we’d like them to be.”

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