Tumwater teachers typically spend Labor Day putting the finishing touches on their classrooms, but Monday, many planned their picket lines.
“Although we don't want to strike, we feel this is the only way that we can get that message across to the district that now is the time. That the state Supreme Court promised it, so we're hitting the lines to do it,” said D.J. Brimer.
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Brimer is a Tumwater teacher and parent. On top of higher salaries, he said teachers want to decrease class sizes and increase safety.
“We're ranked 277 out of 295 school districts in the state, and we want to get those class sizes small,” said Brimer.
When it comes to pay, Tumwater Education Association President Tim Voie said they want to be competitive with surrounding districts, including the Olympia School District and North Thurston Public Schools.
“We've been playing catch-up because they're immediate neighbors of ours, and four years ago, you could've driven 10 miles up the road and earned $10,000 more a year,” said Voie.
It's a similar situation for Centralia Public Schools.
“We've heard a lot about Centralia and the fear it could become a stepping stone district. We had 41 teachers leave last year. I think that that number for itself speaks volumes,” said Amanda McDougall.
McDougall's son is supposed to start third grade Wednesday, but instead, teachers in the district may be on strike.
"I'm not pulling my kids to go to school somewhere else, I'm just going to fix what's going on here,” said McDougall.
Until Tumwater reaches a deal, Brimer said he'll continue fighting for change as well.
"Now, here we are, at the zero hour where superintendents and school districts, to be quite honest, have painted us in a negative light and put us in a situation where we have to go to the picket lines to make sure that the McCleary promise is followed through upon,” he said.
School is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Tumwater and Centralia.
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