Teacher Contract Talks Stall SBEA and School District Negotiations at Impasse

Home » Education » Teacher Contract Talks Stall SBEA and School District Negotiations at Impasse

Thursday August 24, 2017

After a ten hour federally mediated negotiating session was held Monday, August 21, the South Burlington Educators’ Association (SBEA) and the South Burlington School Board emerged without a settlement. Months of meetings, early mediation, impasse, and a fact-finding report released in late June preceded Monday’s negotiations. Since the fact-finding report, the two parties have met several times in an attempt to have a contract in place before the beginning of the school year. Progress was made on several disputed contract items, but the two sides remain locked over differences in salary and health care benefits. The board maintains that its proposal for compensation and benefits offered teachers a solution that is competitive and sustainable, and provides savings to taxpayers. According to a press release sent by the board to The Other Paper after the meeting on Monday night, the school district offered average salary increases of 2.17% in year one and 2.06% in year two. Under the board’s health insurance proposal, teachers would pay the same amount in premium and average out-of-pocket expenses in each of the next two school years compared to what they paid in 2017. School Board Chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald said, “The board believes its proposal addresses concerns expressed by the community, the needs of ourW teachers, and the district’s goal of continuing to provide excellent educational opportunities for our students.” The board had hoped for a settled contract before the beginning of the school year, and says it’s members will meet soon to consider options to move beyond the impasse. The school board’s press release appears on this page. SBEA Co-Presidents Richard Wise and Kathy Buley also drafted a statement after the lengthy negotiating session, where they described their willingness to remain at the session all night “while the board announced it was leaving to “review their options.” The SBEA press release (included on this page) cites disagreement with the board’s desire to modify the salary schedule as well as their healthcare proposal, saying the board’s health insurance proposals are radically out of step and that proposed changes to the salary schedule are not acceptable. The union says their aim was to reach settlement by the start of the school year, and they fault the board for halting negotiations on Monday night. “Our goal will continue to be modeling a process of civility and compromise for our community’s young people, and to finish this process at the negotiating table. However, like in any relationship, change and better results only occur if both sides are committed. It’s amazing that in a community defined by great schools we need to fight this hard every two or three years just to keep our compensation intact and slow the erosion the board seems to be working toward. It doesn’t have to be this way. We’re ready to talk,” said SBEA Co-President Richard Wise.   The next steps in the negotiation process have not yet been identified. If a settlement is not reached by the beginning of the school year, the prior year contract terms remain in place with scheduled step increases. SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent