Teachers in the South Kitsap School District voted to go on strike Monday evening, after a disagreement over class size. Both parties will return to the bargaining table on Tuesday, one week before the school year is set to begin.
Teachers say the failure to reach a reasonable agreement dates back to last spring, when the district cut 10% of all teaching positions.
The South Kitsap Education Association says that despite a $4.8 million increase in state revenue an another $1.8 million in levy money, those eliminated positions were never restored.
"We are trying to meet students' needs, and we have high expectations," said South Kitsap Education Association spokesperson Judy Arbogast. "But that also requires really working with the individual, meeting individual needs, and as the class sizes keep getting bigger, it becomes more and more difficult to meet those student needs."
Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid told KING 5 the district is hopeful an agreement will be reached soon.
"I absolutely believe we have the finest teachers in the state, they're committed, they're passionate, they're doing great things with kids," Reid said. "The board and the district want to continue to support teaching and learning in the classroom. So while I'm disappointed in the vote tonight, I know that we're committed to coming to a fair agreement as soon as possible with them."
Negotiations are expected to resume early Tuesday morning.
With the school year set to begin on September 4th, both parties have their work cut out for them.
For now, Arbogast says teachers will continue to work to the end of their current contract, which expires August 31st.