Update: Teacher salary negotiations reach standstill

Lauren Mitchell

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Teacher salary negotiations have stalled for the time being after the initial tentative agreement was voted against by 63 percent of teachers in mid-September. Superintendent Deborah Hamm said teachers reported five remaining areas of concern: salary, the opportunity to receive pay for unused sick leave, health insurance benefits, the supplemental salary schedule and professional days.

The Interest-Based Bargaining Team (IBB) met again after the contract failed, and still did not formulate a plan. Hamm said the next official step is for either party to declare an official impasse, meaning the IBB Team is unable to come to an agreement.

“I do not know who will make that decision or process through that step (declaring official impasse). Both sides are still hopeful that we can come to a resolution. We do not currently have a meeting scheduled, but I do not think either side is opposed to talking,” Hamm said.

Once an official impasse is declared, the district would turn to third-party solutions to resolve tensions and develop a contract.

“We would submit a request for a federal mediator to come in to the district and meet with the team to try to help us work through what is keeping us apart,” Hamm said. “From there, if that situation did not work with a federal mediator, from there it would go to what they call fact-finding. That would be a third party that would come in and look at what both sides are requesting and say which group is correct or which would be the best way to go.”

Hamm said although the district has taken the five remaining concerns from teachers into consideration, there have not been any formal adjustments to the original contract proposal.

District staff is currently working under the previous year’s salary schedule, and will continue to do so until a final agreement is made, at which teachers will receive back pay. Hamm said there is no official deadline to develop a solution, and contention in the negotiation process is affecting areas like teacher morale.

“Anytime you have a situation where you are working under previous years’ contracts, that is very unsettling to teachers. When teachers are having to deal with all the things they have to deal with, that is just one more thing and it certainly impact things like morale and the way people feel about coming to work every day. That certainly is not good for anyone,” Hamm said.