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Teacher contract talks in progress

Mediated bargaining sessions between the Snoqualmie Valley School District and the teachers’ union have yielded “some progress,” according to both sides, and more sessions are scheduled for Aug. 13 and 18.

The Snoqualmie Education Association, which represents Valley teachers, has threatened to strike when school starts Sept. 3 if the district doesn’t meet its demands for pay increases.

“If we can make progress like we did Wednesday (July 23), then hopefully we can have an agreement” before school starts, said Art Galloway, union president. “But we still have a long way to go.”

“Both teams are listening and considering options,” said district spokeswoman Carolyn Malcolm, who added that the district plans to update its Web site, www.svsd410.org, after each session.

The union has asked the district to raise salaries for Valley teachers, who are the lowest-paid in East King County. But the school district is hard-pressed just to fund state-mandated cost of living adjustments for employees, Malcolm has said. Earlier this month, the district passed a 2008-09 budget whose general operation costs exceeded revenues by more than $1 million.

Galloway said the district could “adjust priorities” to increase teacher compensation. He voiced concerns that educators will leave to earn thousands more in neighboring districts.

The union and the district have held informal contract talks since January, and began formal talks in March.

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