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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The latest on teacher strikes in Washington state (all times local):
Seattle educators have voted to go on strike on Wednesday if a tentative agreement hasn't been reached by then.
Members of the Seattle Education Association, which represents about 5,000 school employees, approved the move in a unanimous voice vote Thursday evening. The strike vote comes days before school is set to begin Wednesday for Washington's largest school district.
Speaking to reporters during a conference call from a trade mission stop in Japan, Gov. Jay Inslee noted that one of his grandchildren had just started first grade and the governor said he was appreciative of teacher's work, but hoped for a resolution.
"Obviously like any governor, and any grandfather, we are hopeful that agreements are reached so we can continue the education of our kids," he said.
Inslee said that while there's more work to do on education funding, he noted money that the Legislature put into the system this year. But he also said that teachers have long faced an "unprecedented level of pressure, demands and constraints."
"It's not, in my mind, surprising that teachers have a very passionate view that we need to make some changes," he said.
The Spokane School District and the union that represents all school employees, not just teachers, have reached a tentative agreement that averts a strike Friday.
Both sides said in a statement Thursday afternoon that members of the Spokane Education Association are meeting Tuesday to review contract details and decide whether or not to approve it.
The two sides have been bargaining almost around the clock to reach an agreement before Friday. The union had set a 7 a.m. Friday deadline for a proposed contract or a strike.
Both sides said the one-year contract makes progress on several issues, including professional development, workload and compensation.
Classes and other school activities will continue on Friday as scheduled.
Teachers in the tiny South Whidbey Island School District are now on strike.
The Washington Education Association says teachers in the four-school district walked out on Thursday. School is set to begin on Tuesday for the district's nearly 1,500 students. But teachers were supposed to be in school on Thursday preparing for the year.
Teachers planned to picket at the middle and high schools on Thursday, but contract negotiations are continuing.
They join educators from Pasco, who went on strike Tuesday morning. Seattle teachers plan to vote Thursday evening on whether they are going to strike. And Spokane school employees have set a Friday morning deadline, saying they will go on strike if they don't have a contract agreement by then.
The Spokane school board is getting ready for legal action in case school employees go on strike on Friday.
The Spokesman-Review reports (http://is.gd/r3gnsx ) the school board voted Wednesday night to give the superintendent the ability to fire striking workers and bring legal action against the union.
The district and the union that represents all school employees — not just teachers — have been bargaining almost around the clock to reach an agreement before Friday.
School board president Jeffrey Bierman says the resolution was a precautionary move and the board hopes the district will have no need to seek an injunction against the strike.
Meanwhile, teachers in Pasco are entering their third day on strike. And Seattle teachers plan to take a strike vote Thursday evening.
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