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Originally published September 4, 2013 at 6:22 PM | Page modified September 4, 2013 at 11:24 PM

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After strike worries, a smooth first day of school in Seattle

Despite earlier uncertainty about whether school would begin in Seattle on Wednesday, the start of classes seemed to go well.

Seattle Times education reporter

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Smooth? Overloaded classes, some with 40 students, smooth? Messed up student schedules... MORE
Go smoke another doobie, stoner. As the parent of a hard-working 8th-grader, I... MORE
Smooth?!? They have Special Ed teachers loaded up with 64+ people in their case load... MORE


Parents, students and teachers in Seattle may not have known until Tuesday night whether school would start Wednesday morning, but classes seemed to get under way without a hitch across the city — including at Muir Elementary, where Superintendent José Banda was on hand to visit a new art program.

The South Seattle school had held an open house Tuesday afternoon, just before the city’s teachers met downtown to decide whether to accept a tentative agreement for a new two-year contract. Parents and children went home still wondering if there would be a strike.

Most families made backup plans, but a few banked on an agreement being approved.

When the call from the school district finally came, saying teachers had approved the new contract, they were relieved, happy to ditch the contingencies.

“We were hoping this was going to happen,” said Mark Fadool, who has a second-grader at Muir.

Many children also were glad to don their backpacks and head off to meet their new classmates and teachers.

Jinnah Davis, an incoming fourth-grader, smiled broadly as his mother, Cassie Chappell, said Jinnah and his sister, Sophia, really wanted school to start.

As they walked onto the playground, each child carried a ream of copy paper, a contribution toward classroom supplies.

Mariah Griffin, in the hallway outside her new fourth-grade classroom, said she would have been sad if classes had not begun because “school is fun.”

As 8:45 a.m. arrived, students lined up on the playground behind their new teachers, then filed quietly into the building class by class. Parents trailed behind, with cameras and encouragement.

By 9:20 a.m., Muir principal Awnie Thompson went on the P.A. system to gently encourage parents to move out of the hallways into the library, where the PTA offered first-day coffee and cookies — or leave. In the classrooms, students were already at work.

The only students not in class at Muir were the kindergartners. Because Muir will offer state-funded, full-day kindergarten this year, Thompson said, the kindergarten teachers must spend the first few days of school meeting individually with each incoming family.

The biggest problem at Muir on opening morning was the bells. They had not been adjusted for the school-year schedule, so they rang at the wrong times. Thompson said school staff would ring them manually instead.

“If that’s as bad as it gets,” she said, “we’re good.”

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or On Twitter @LShawST

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