Pasco teachers and the Pasco School District plan to continue contract talks through the weekend if necessary, and a state mediator has been brought in to help finalize a contract.

School is slated to start on time next Tuesday, August 27th, because the current contract the nearly 1,200 members of the Pasco Association of Educators are under does not expire until August 31.

Officials on both sides are optimistic, and believe an agreement is within sight. The state mediator is being utilized with hopes to avoid any delays, such as the one in 2015, when a 9-day 'strike' set back the start of school in a dispute that included issues over supplies, materials and other necessary teaching infrastructure.

Unlike that issue, this one is over teacher pay. The legislature set aside about $2 billion dollars soley for teacher salaries during the legislative session. However, a wide variety of 'distribution methods' and rules  and regulations have made it more difficult in some districts than others to reach agreements. The Washington Education Association (WEA) the state teacher's union, has urged all districts to seek double-digit percentage wage hikes.

That's what the Pasco teachers and District are working on. This negotiation is necessary because although the teachers and district reached a tentative agreement earlier in the summer, it was not ratified by the union.

If negotiations stall, teachers could chose to continue to stay in the classroom while efforts continue, or strike.