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Bellevue teachers end strike

Classes start this morning

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Classes to start the 2008-09 school year will finally begin this morning in the 16,000-student Bellevue School District after teachers voted to call a halt to their nine-day strike that upset some parents.

District officials said 95 percent of the teachers voting Sunday night agreed to a three-year contract that that gives them more money and more control over lesson plans.

“We’re very excited to be getting back to the business of educating kids,” Bellevue School Board President Peter Bentley told the Seattle Times.

Pay, health coverage and curriculum were the key issues in the strike by some 1,200 teachers that prevented school from starting on schedule Sept. 2.

Teachers will receive a 5 percent increase in pay over the three-year contract. That’s in addition to the state cost-of-living increases.

In the tentative agreement reached Friday, teacher union and district negotiators agreed on a package that included the 5 percent wage increase over three years, maintaining the district’s health-care funding system and adding $37,000 to cover increases in health care premiums.

The district also agreed to let teachers develop discretionary curriculum plans based on the teacher’s best judgments on how to teach the material.