No agreement yet on teacher contract less than 24-hours before strike

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, February 4 2014 at 6:39 PM, Updated: Fri, February 7 2014 at 4:43 PM

Medford, Ore. -- The Medford School District and Medford Education Association (MEA) walked away from negotiations Tuesday night with no agreement. Both parties had been negotiating with a state mediator for more than nine hours before deciding to break for the night. They plan to come back to the bargaining table at 9am Wednesday morning.

Teachers will strike Thursday if there is no contract agreement reached before 6am.

The clock continues to tick

"We're down to crunch time," said Dr. Phil Long, Superintendent of the Medford School District.

"We are a little concerned that we have a strike date a day and a half out or so," Long said.

Sticking points remain

Superintendent Long said there is still a lot of distance that needs to be closed on a couple of issues.

Long would not go into detail about the remaining sticking points, but the teachers union has previously said they've taken issue with wording, workloads, salaries, pensions and early retirement in the district's contract proposal.

"Both parties have agreed that they're keeping this confidential," said Lisa North, Organizing Chair for the Medford Education Association.

But as for the sticking points, North said it's hard to pinpoint just one.

"There isn't just one main sticking point. There's so many pieces that are intertwined with each other. There certainly is a financial piece but within that financial piece there's three or four different working pieces that are also tied to some of the language pieces," North continued.

In the meantime, Long said both sides will be working hard until there's a resolution or they run out of time.

"We are hopeful that we can resolve this but we are also prepared," said Long.

Prepared with substitute teachers at the ready and a plan in place... if there's no resolution and teachers take to the picket line.

The plan for Medford schools

Medford middle and high schools will have an early release on Wednesday and it's likely school will be canceled on Thursday either way even if both sides come to an agreement.

If teachers go on strike, school will also be canceled Friday and Monday.

School district will serve up free hot meals

If there's no school, the Medford School District says they're prepared to serve up hot meals for kids up to age 18.

The district plans to keep Central Medford High School, as well as Jackson, Roosevelt and Wilson elementary schools open for breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast hours are between 9-10 in the morning and lunch hours are between noon and 1 p.m.

Accompanying adults can buy breakfast for two-dollars and lunch for three-dollars.

For more information visit the websites below:

Medford School District

http://www.medford.k12.or.us/Index.asp

Medford Education Association

http://www.iteachmedford.org/

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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