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Originally published August 30, 2009 at 12:13 AM | Page modified August 30, 2009 at 9:29 PM

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Kent teacher strike still on

Striking teachers in the Kent School District ended another day of negotiations Saturday without making significant progress, increasing the chances that school will not start as scheduled Monday.

Striking teachers in the Kent School District ended another day of negotiations Saturday without making significant progress, increasing the chances that school will not start as scheduled Monday.

"We're disappointed that more progress wasn't made," said Dale Folkerts, spokesman for the Kent Education Association.

Representatives from the Kent School District, which has 27,500 students, could not be reached for comment.

Folkerts said the negotiators for the school district did not take "meaningful steps" on the issues of class size or the time teachers are required to be in meetings and away from students.

Kent's 1,700 teachers voted on Wednesday to strike.

Representatives for the district and teachers are scheduled to meet again today.

Elsewhere in the area, the first day of school is still uncertain for thousands of other students. Along with Kent, contract talks have stalled in Sedro-Woolley and Lake Stevens.

Everett teachers and district officials, however, announced on their Web sites Saturday that they had reached a tentative contract agreement. The agreement sets Wednesday, Sept. 9, as the first day of school for more than 18,000 students in the Everett School District, according to the district's Web site.

More than 175 districts in the state have contracts due this year with their teachers. About 100 are still unresolved.

"As each day passes, you know, there's less and less time to reach a settlement before school, and in places where there is a strike deadline, that's something that they need to take into consideration," Washington Education Association spokesman Rich Wood told Seattle public-radio station KUOW.

In Sedro-Woolley, mediation will resume this evening between the district and teachers, after contract talks stalled Friday. School begins Wednesday for the district, which has 280 teachers and about 4,300 students.

In Lake Stevens, teachers voted Thursday to go on strike unless they have a new contract before school starts Sept. 8.

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"We will return to work only when we have a ratified new contract," Kelly Snow, president of the Lake Stevens Education Association, told The Herald in Everett.

The next negotiation meeting is Tuesday. The teachers' contract expires Monday. Both sides have been negotiating since May.

The Lake Stevens School District said the two sides had agreed on 45 issues, but remain divided on pay increases, class size and planning time.

"We're still far apart on economic issues," district spokeswoman Arlene Hulten told The Herald. There are more than 400 teachers and 7,000 students in the district.

In Everett, the school district said on its Web site that it would not release details of the tentative contract agreement until after the teachers' association meeting Wednesday.

In a message left on the teachers union-bargaining hotline Saturday, Kim Mead, president of the Everett Education Association, said members will vote on the contract this week.

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