Strike looms as negotiations continue at Medford School District offices

, Posted: Wed, February 5 2014 at 3:14 PM, Updated: Fri, February 7 2014 at 4:28 PM

Medford teachers and the District are facing off for the last time before teachers could walk out. Tension at the Medford School District Wednesday morning is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
At 9 a.m. bargaining teams representing the teachers and District met once more. The two sides, meeting again behind closed doors.

Teachers still have issues with several aspects of the district's proposal, including wording that allows for special education case loads to exceed 50 students.       
Another deal breaker is a loss of retirement benefits, that for years were in their contracts.

The district says the contract they implemented in December, without teacher approval, is their best offer.

Now it's become a war of words. The district published paid advertisements in the paper. In it they quotes Walt Disney, and ask parents to stand with them for the "long term good of our students."

Last July Medford Education Association president Cheryl Lashley explained to us that teachers took a cut to their salaries when the economy tanked. She said essentially they were bailing out the district fiscally, "We knew there was a hole and we found a way to fill it with their promise to us that when money came back they would give it to us."

Then last year, the district general fund received 23.3 million dollars in additional funds from from the state. Teachers said it was time for the district to fulfill their promises.

"I've never felt as disappointed as I do," continued Lashley.

Now, nearly a year after negotiations started, the MEA bargaining team remains tight lipped... but hopeful. "I would love to say a lot. I think we'll def make some movement and that's all I can say," says MEA member Clag Offutt.

Another bargaining member comments, "We are hoping today that we come away with a fair contract."

As they meet, outside a show of support for teachers surrounds the district offices. A place that is becoming a bargaining battleground.

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