Back to mediation they go.
A week after the Manteca Unified School District Board of Education tendered an offer outside of mediation to the roughly 1,200 teachers of the district – angering negotiators for the Manteca Educators Association and leading to accusations that a law had been broken – the two sides met on Monday outside of mediation to try and reach an agreement that would end the process that has taken more than a year to resolve.
No agreement was reached.
Now, the negotiators from the MEA and the district’s negotiation team are scheduled to meet again with a State mediator on Thursday to attempt to resolve the impasse and prevent the matter from going to fact-finding – the next step in the process and another step closer to a possible strike.
According to MEA President Ericka Meadows, the negotiation team for the teachers is prepared to move beyond the current impasse and is hopeful that the district is willing to meet them at a point that will solidify a contract and prevent the matter from escalating further.
“This can all be over and we can get back to the job of educating our children, which is our job,” Meadows said the board at a meeting on Tuesday evening. “I hope you will reconsider your priorities and do what is right by our students.”
On Tuesday, the board also approved the 2017/18 budget – without the contract included – with the understanding that they’ll be back after 45-days to update the numbers and get a more solid look at the district’s finances throughout the year.
While the atmosphere at previous board meetings has been somewhat strained at times, the teachers themselves were much more reserved during the brief meeting Tuesday, and have no plans of lining up outside of the district offices on Thursday afternoon to greet the mediator as he returns to lead negotiations between the two sides.
“We want to give our people a break,” Meadows said. “They’ve come out in force three times so far, and I think the board is aware that they would come if we asked them to.”
In a statement released Tuesday evening, the district reaffirmed its dedication to reaching a solution with its certificated staff.
“The district values the process and the commitment of both teams to prioritize teachers, and will continue its efforts to conclude an agreement with MEA.”
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