Laurel Teacher Contract Negotiations Reach Impasse - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Laurel Teacher Contract Negotiations Reach Impasse

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LAUREL, Del. - The stalemate between the Laurel Education Association and The Laurel School District appears no closer to a resolution. Wednesday, both parties met for the third and final time with a state-appointed mediator and failed to reach an agreement on teacher contracts -- leaving negotiations at an impasse.

A mediator and representatives from both the association and the district met for approximately ten hours at the bargaining table, with no end in sight. The mediator ended the meeting saying he was going to recommend arbitration.

Once arbitration is officially ordered by the labor board, there will be 120 days for the whole process to be completed. At some point during that process, there will be a hearing where both parties will present their arguments. The arbitrator will then decide to move forward with either the district's package or the association's package.

Superintendent John Ewald provided WMDT with a statement on the matter: "The District is anxious to finalize this contract as soon as we can responsibly do so, allowing our entire staff to turn our full attention where it belongs—on providing the students of Laurel with the high-quality education they deserve."

Joe Kirk, representative for the Delaware State Education Association believes the district never had any intention to bargain.

"The District is attempting to rewrite the entire contract. We believe that as an association that the only real issue was the financial issues of the district, and that the contract was just fine. It worked well for many years, but the District came in to script the contract and rewrite it. We came in to bargain a contract, the district came in to go to arbitration and let someone else decide it. So that's what's holding us up," he said.

Thursday evening, a community meeting was organized to voice concerns to state leaders. Representative Tim Dukes and Senator Robert Venables listened intently to frustrated parents and teachers.

"It's important to be here to listen to our constituents and hear what they have to say and what they face. Education is such a vital part of who we are as a community," Dukes said.

Nicole Dickerson, a parent with two kids in the Laurel School District hopes more parents and community members will rally together and support the teachers.

"We are tired of year after year watching good kid after good kid leave Laurel to attend other districts. Everybody's morale is gone. I mean it's down so low. Nobody feels respected, nobody feels appreciated," she said.

This is the first time any school employee group in the state of Delaware has reached an impasse.

 

 

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