Heated Teacher Contract Negotiations Continue

, Posted: Tue, November 5 2013 at 5:43 PM, Updated: Tue, November 5 2013 at 6:45 PM

Eight months of negotiations between the Medford School District and its teachers and still no deal. The contentious negotiations keep getting more heated by the week.

Hundreds of Medford teachers attended the public comment period of Monday night's school board meeting, or tried to anyway.

"We need to get down to 80 people otherwise they're going to close this room down," said Dr. Phil Long, Superintendent of the Medford School District during Monday's meeting.

Fire Marshals even showed up, saying the meeting room was at capacity.

Teachers protested, chanting "Move! Move! Move!"

Eventually, the meeting was moved to the auditorium. It was a tense room-change, followed by a tense public comment period.

"Their best and final offer surely cannot be their best," said Chris Geankoplis, a Social Studies teacher at Hedrick Middle School.

"We want to increase the teachers pay to 10% for a three year period," explained Larry Nicholson, a member of the Medford School Board.

Broken down, that's an 8% increase in the first year, and 1% in the second and third years.

"There will be an increase in salary for everybody [...] even after the PERS contribution," Nicholson continued.

That offer is up from the original 8.13% over three years.

For the district, as far as money is concerned...

"We've offered up the maximum we feel we can do without starting to cut into programs," said Nicholson.

The district is also reinstating four additional school days and two days for parent-teacher conferences. Teachers claim they aren't getting paid for the extra days. Nicholson, however, said teachers are on salary and the district is just adding back days that were previously cut.

However, the school board says what's hurting the negotiation now  is misinformation. They say teachers aren't getting all the facts.

"I heard a lot of things, people voicing frustrations on things we've already taken out," said Nicholson.

Nicholson said the district listened when teachers were concerned about wording that would be taken out of their contract which would have limited a teacher's work week to 40-hours. Some teachers said they did not want to be forced to work more than 40-hours per week, even though many teachers already work 60-hours per week. Because teachers felt strongly about the wording, the Medford School District backed off the issue.

There are rumors flying that teachers will not accept the newest proposed contract.

What comes now, remains to be seen at the next negotiating session.

Both teams will be meeting again on November 12th to negotiate on contracts for the roughly 600 teachers who are currently working without a contract in the Medford School District.

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