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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sides upbeat on Spokane teacher talks

Spokane Public Schools administrators and the union representing teachers and other employees are optimistic about reaching a contract agreement and averting a possible labor action.

The current contract between the district and the Spokane Education Association expires Monday, which is also the first day of school.

Administrators made a new offer Thursday, and the union, which represents teachers, librarians, counselors, custodians and others, is set to meet this afternoon at 4 p.m.

“We’ve made over 100 proposals and counterproposals during negotiations,” said school district spokesman Kevin Morrison. “We are dealing with all seven contracts at one time and each contract has unique characteristics.”

Details of the various contract proposals have not been disclosed. Earlier this week Superintendent Shelley Redinger sent a letter to parents regarding the contract talks.

SEA President Jenny Rose said she’s hopeful that an agreement can be reached. “Things are improving, I would say,” she said. “I think that both parties are just not there yet.”

The SEA will hold a meeting at 4 p.m. today. Members could vote to accept a contract offer, agree to work without a contract while negotiations continue, or they could vote to strike.

Rose said she doesn’t know how likely a strike is. “I have no idea,” she said. “I can’t gauge this one.”

A contract vote requires the approval of 50 percent of those attending the meeting plus one. A vote to strike requires the approval of 80 percent plus one.

“From what I understand, the district is moving closer than they have been before, but I don’t know if it’s enough for our members to ratify,” she said.

For now, parents just need to know that the negotiations are ongoing, Morrison said. But he said he’s hopeful everything will be resolved before school starts.

“I think we’re really that close,” he said.

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