By Mike Rosenberg
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Striking teachers and the Seattle public school district reached a tentative agreement on Tuesday to end a nearly week-long walkout that has idled the city's 53,000 students, both sides in the labor dispute said.
The Seattle Education Association teachers union said the strike would continue until the group's leadership reviews the deal and decides whether to recommend it to the members. That could happen as early as Tuesday afternoon, paving the way for classes to resume on Thursday.
Stacy Howard, a spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools, said the accord was struck just before 7 a.m. Tuesday after a 20-hour negotiating session. She said "both teams worked diligently all day Monday and overnight," following marathon weekend talks.
The deal's details will not be released until the union can lay out the plan for its teachers and other educators, she said.
Union spokesman Rich Wood said they were "excited and pleased" with the tentative agreement struck with the help of state mediators.
"Both teams have worked long hours for months, to make this happen," Wood said, adding teachers were told to return to the picket lines on Tuesday morning, where they were to receive information about the deal.
The strike will continue, he said, while the union's board reviews the pact. If the union decides to end the strike, Wood said, teachers would spend Wednesday preparing while classes remain closed.
The strike, which left many working parents scrambling to improvise childcare arrangements, marked the first labor-related disruption of classes in three decades for the largest public education system in the Pacific Northwest.
Some 5,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job last Wednesday on what should have been the start of the new school year after talks collapsed the night before in a disagreement over wages, hours and performance evaluations.
One of the teachers' chief grievances is they have received no cost-of-living raise in six years despite surging living expenses in Seattle, particularly for housing, fueled largely by growth in the city's technology sector.
The district aims to resume classes on Thursday. But Howard said the new school year logistics, including everything from setting up food deliveries to figuring out the calendar, could mean it does not happen that quickly.
Once classes do resume, Howard has said previously, the district may have to ask students to attend school on Saturdays, shorten holidays, or end the school year at a later date.
(Reporting by Mike Rosenberg; Additional reporting and writing by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert)