Medford School Board declares state of emergency

, Posted in Local, Posted: Wed, January 29 2014 at 6:18 PM, Updated: Wed, January 29 2014 at 6:39 PM

The Medford School District is preparing for a teacher strike next week, and they want parents to be aware. If the teachers do strike, there will be no school next Thursday and most likely Friday. That means more classroom time will have to be made up later in the year.

The Medford Education Association and the district met for more than 9 hours negotiating Tuesday night but still couldn't come to a resolution. Without an agreement in sight, the Medford School District has declared a state of emergency.

Medford School District Superintendent Phil Long said "we really do have a responsibility to be ready if the unions choice of a strike is implemented."

Wednesday, the board passed multiple emergency resolutions including a plan to hire substitute teachers. Dr. Long said "we've been staffing up, we've put together a call center to do all the contacting and hiring of substitutes, and the background checks."

He also is looking into how schools will operate "I think we are going to do some consolidation of schools and altering the school days. It's likely that we would be closed for 2 or 3 days to make sure we have the appropriate staff online," said Dr. Long.

The district made some rules about what happens at the schools during the strike. "They took some actions for regulations on picketing, and access to our property to make sure we maintain a safe environment," Dr. Long said.

Medford Education Association President Cheryl Lashley said teachers are still willing to negotiate. She said "we are willing to sit down everyday if we need to because we are one week away from a strike."

But Lashley says the teachers want actual bargaining to happen. She said "we have given them proposal after proposal after proposal and they keep coming back to us with the same piece they have all along."         

Both sides agreed on one thing, they want this nearly year long heated debate resolved.

Lashley says the core issues still remain. The two sides aren't finding common ground on salaries, retirement benefits and working conditions. They are not scheduled to meet again until Wednesday, one day before teachers could walk out.

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