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Teacher negotiations hit a wall

Katherine Morris

Teachers’ hopes for an early settlement this year may have been dashed by recent news that the school district and TTEA negotiations have hit a brick wall.

Both sides were expected to declare impasse last week, after failing to reach an agreement on a contract for the 2002-03 school year.

When an agreement was finally reached for last school year in June – after nearly nine months – TTEA, the teacher’s union, had hoped to avoid a similar situation this year by providing the district with a Nov. 30 deadline to offer a proposal.

The district complied with that deadline and presented an offer.

However, according to TTEA’s lead negotiator Sherrie Ebyam, that proposal was met with significant opposition from union members at a special Dec. 5 meeting.

“As teacher compensation offerings were lower than we’d been hoping for, the union decided that it would not support the proposal,” Ebyam said. “We did not hold a formal vote on the proposal. The purpose of the meeting was really to get some direction on where to go at this point.”

Several attempts to contact the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Superintendent about that proposal were unsuccessful.

According to Assistant Superintendent Jo Lynn Wilson, the district is in a difficult position with the uncertainties presented by the state budget crisis.

“With the possibility of mid-year cuts to our funding by the state, we even included a clause in the language of the proposal that the contract would have to be renegotiated should any such cuts occur,” Wilson said. “It’s very difficult to make an offer when we don’t even really know what our budget is going to look like.”

Ebyam said the union was expected to declare impasse.

Once impasse has been declared, a mediator will be brought in to lead three sessions with the district and TTEA’s collective bargaining team. Those meetings are expected to start sometime after the New Year.

“Right now, we’re feeling like we’ve done a lot of work on this,” Ebyam said. “We had hoped for a better offer than we saw. However, we’re going to continue to move forward with negotiations as we have in the past.”


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