UPDATE AT 8:30 PM: The Seattle Education Association, the teachers' union, voted to approve a new two-year contract tonight after a strained week between Seattle Public Schools and the union. (Last Monday night, the union overwhelmingly voted down an initial offer.)

After more thorny talks throughout the week led to mediation this weekend, union leadership emerged on Sunday with a deal they felt good about bringing to their 5,000 members—including teachers, teaching assistants, and specialists.

After a reportedly emotional and "tough going" closed-door meeting at Benaroya hall tonight, the rank and file approved the deal and school will start, as scheduled, tomorrow morning.

Emails from the District went out at 8:20 tonight, shortly after the contract was approved, alerting parents that school—in all caps "WILL start"—on time. On Saturday, families had gotten an email alerting them to the possibility that school might not start on time.  

SPS Superintendent Jose Bonda released the following statement: "I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication in negotiating this agreement. I appreciate each and every one of our staff members, whose work contributes to the academic success of our students. All of us at Seattle Public Schools look forward to welcoming our students and families to a new school year tomorrow."

Original story:

Sources who've been briefed on a tentative deal between Seattle Public Schools and the teachers' union, which goes to a union vote this afternoon, say the deal maintains Seattle's own more rigorous teachers' evaluation system (over a looser state version); includes a solid raise for teachers, reportedly a 4.5 percent increase over two years, plus a restoration of formerly furloughed hours, which brings the overall salary increase to 6.3 percent; and an agreement that while elementary school teachers will have to work an extra half-hour, it will not, as SPS originally demanded, come at the end of the day when students are gone, nor will it have to be for planning time. The teachers themselves will decide how and when to work in the extra half hour and can use it for the type of school work they please.

The District will no longer use the Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test.

An important footnote on the evaluations, which had been a major sticking point, pitting the teachers' wish to scrap their own 2010 mandate for student progress to be part of the teacher evaluations in favor of a new, less specific state standard developed subsequently in 2012: While, the original evaluation model will remain, the district will no longer use the Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test, as the instrument. 

The district, reportedly, did not want to shelve their evaluation model, which meets federal standards (and thus garners federal dollars for the district) in favor of the new state evaluation model, which doesn't meet the federal bar because it merely suggests that student progress be used to evaluate teachers, but doesn't mandate how.

While union leadership announced the tentative agreement with the school board on Sunday, it's not a done deal. Scrapping the controversial MAP is a win for the union, but sticking with Seattle's more stringent evaluation system in general was not popular with the rank and file last week.

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