About 6,500 teachers in two California cities prepared Sunday to join 3,500 of their brethren on strike in six other states in what has become an annual end-of-summer rite.
More than 5,000 teachers are threatening to strike the Sacramento-area school districts and there were plans for a walkout by 1,500 teachers in the San Jose Unified School District. Walkouts in those jurisdictions would affect about 120,000 students.
About 3,500 teachers are already on picket lines in Ohio, Montana, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Idaho, affecting more than 60,000 students.
The disputes involve wages, fringe benefits and classroom issues.
In San Jose, year-old talks broke off Saturday and no new sessions were scheduled. A strike there would affect 29,000 students when classes resume this week. San Jose teachers have worked without a contract since June 30, 1988, and are angry because they were not offered a raise.
School officials began contacting substitute teachers and advising parents to make day-care plans in the event a strike closed schools. Teachers plan to gather at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday before hitting the picket lines.
"It's truly disappointing," said district schools Supt. James Baughman. "We are going to attempt, in some way or form, to keep the schools open."
Contract talks were stalled in the Sacramento City Unified School District and the suburban San Juan School District northeast of Sacramento. Although negotiations were expected to resume, a teachers' spokesman said, "We are still looking at a work stoppage Tuesday."
San Francisco school officials and representatives of 2,800 teachers are in negotiations but an agreement was predicted by today..
Around the country, teachers called strikes in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Quincy, Ill.; Great Falls, Mont., and in several districts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.