Teacher contract negotiations go downhill

, Posted: Thu, February 13 2014 at 11:56 PM, Updated: Fri, February 14 2014 at 12:26 AM

Medford, Ore. -- What looked like promising negotiations between union teachers and the Medford School District took a turn for the worst Thursday night. Both sides aired their grievances at a joint press conference.

"The momentum that we received even yesterday appears to have dissipated" said Medford Schools Superintendent Dr. Phil Long.

Negotiations came to an abrupt end Thursday evening as the Medford School District claims it's put $4.5-million more on the table "We've come up on salary, we've come up on early retirement benefits, we've been looking at insurance, but we do not have the money to meet the current offer that MEA has on the table...They moved $60-thousand dollars. That will not get a contract settled. That mortgages our kids future." said Dr. Long.

Medford Education Association president Cheryl Lashley said "Our members are not going to stand for taking home less money one year than they did the prior year."

Dr. Long says the $60-thousand the union gave up was a stipend for teachers at the top end with 17 years seniority. The contract term continues to be a major sticking point for the union "The district is so focused on getting a 3 year contract it is missing an opportunity to settle." said Lashley.

It was a battle of words and a display of raw emotion "We have obviously a great difference of opinion. We are disappointed the district has called it for this evening...I'm really sad it ended the way it has tonight." said Lashley.

The two sides say they won't meet again until Tuesday. In the meantime the district says it will continue to recruit more substitute teachers to keep kids in school "These are serious times. It is a state of emergency in our community and we need to resolve that through collective bargaining." said Dr. Long.

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