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Teacher Walkout to Protest Funds

May 1, 2001

SEATTLE (AP) _ Thousands of signs were distributed to area teachers as they prepared to stage a one-day walkout to protest state funding proposals.

``We’re doing this because every day our students are being shortchanged,″ said John Dunn, president of the Seattle Education Association, which represents 4,800 teachers and staff at city schools.

Schools in Seattle and nearby districts planned to shut down for the day Tuesday, giving a holiday to more than 70,000 students. The one-day strikes were announced last week.

Teachers are protesting the amount of money set aside for education in state budget proposals.

The missed day will be made up at the end of the school year, said Lynn Steinberg, spokeswoman for the Seattle School District. She said district officials support teachers’ aims, but not their methods.

``We are marching arm in arm with them on this issue,″ she said. ``At the same time, we’re not convinced teachers walking out is the most effective way to communicate that message.″

In November, Washington voters approved two education initiatives, one aimed at cutting class sizes and another mandating annual cost-of-living raises for school employees.

But because of proposed budget cuts, some funds earmarked for cutting class sizes may instead have to be used to maintain existing education programs, according to critics of the budget plans.

In addition, the spending plans provide cost-of-living raises only to school employees who are paid by the state, leaving local districts to cover the rest.

Lawmakers have maintained there is no money to fund teachers’ demands. Dunn disagrees, saying ``rainy day″ funds should be tapped.

``All of the cuts are going to hurt the children of the state of Washington,″ he said.

Besides Seattle, teachers in Edmonds, Issaquah, Enumclaw, Maple Valley and Stanwood were walking out.

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On the Net: Seattle school district: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/main/index.dxml

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