Pasco schools will be closed Sept. 11 for an eighth day as a teachers strike continues, even as teachers union officials are due back in court Friday afternoon and could face hundreds of dollars in fines.
The Pasco School District announced the school closure about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. There was no immediate word on any developments in the ongoing teacher contract negotiations between the Pasco Association of Educators and the district.
The district and union are scheduled to go before Judge Alex Ekstrom in Franklin County Superior Court at 1 p.m. It’s the second hearing since the judge ordered striking teachers on Sept. 4 to go back to work.
Public employee strikes are illegal in Washington. On Tuesday, the union’s attorney acknowledged teachers had not followed Ekstrom’s order.
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Ekstrom said at the time that he could begin levying fines against the union and its leadership if teachers are not back to work by the Sept. 11 hearing. He has indicated the union potentially would have to pay $1,400 per day for violating his order, while union leaders could be charged $250 per day.
No information was released on the progress of Thursday’s negotiations.
The union and the district proposed contracts Wednesday.
The union suggested a two-year deal, with an 11.9 percent salary increase over that time. The district would have to adopt half of all missing curriculum for math, language arts and science, and follow a specific timeline so the process was completed before mid-March. Curriculum adoption for social studies and the arts would come the next school year.
The district’s offer was similar to recent proposals, including a 10 percent salary raise over three years, but had numerous changes to a section on curriculum development and adoption.
The contract would accelerate assessment of what curriculum the district needs, have a one-year deadline for a recommendation for language arts and math curriculum for K-8 students that is bilingual, and a specified timeline for the curriculum review and adoption process for the next year.
It still proposes the district take three years to fully address all curriculum needs claimed by teachers.
The district also pledged to form a task force with the union by Oct. 1 to review testing in the district. A recommendation would be made to the board before the end of 2015.