SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - Wednesday afternoon, South Burlington teachers came out of a closed meeting, determining the next steps they would take in light of the school board's decision to bring this round of contract negotiations to an end.
Their decision: to formally reject the board's imposition.
The same day South Burlington students began their first day of school, the school district announced the school board had decided to end ten months of negotiations.
At a special school board meeting the night before, the board unanimously approved a motion imposing terms and conditions of employment for July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
What this meant for teachers was an average salary increase of $1,679 and health insurance benefits costs would remain the same.
Wednesday afternoon, Noah Everitt, a spokesperson for the South Burlington Educators' Association explained what teachers are asking from the board.
"We are calling on the board to rescind its imposition and employment terms and get back to the table until we agree on a settled contract for this school year. We will not begin negotiating for next year until the board agrees to return to the table for this year," said Everitt.
When asked if the board would not consider going back to the table, if teachers would go on strike, Everitt said "we are considering all options."
"Right now what we believe the city needs is a model that it can look up to about coming together to solve problems," said Everitt.
School board member Martin LaLonde says the Association's request for rescinding the terms are considered pre-conditions.
"We're not gonna accept that there's a pre-condition," said Lalonde
LaLonde adds the terms are what they are, and the board thinks "they're very favorable and we want to move on."
Everitt said there is no formal timeline for when the teachers expect an answer from the school board.
"We're looking at this week by week, and what we're going to be doing is working with the community members to make sure they are hearing our side of where we want to go and again modeling that process, that by coming together, problems can be solved," said Everitt.
When asked what the school board would do should teachers decide to strike, LaLonde said, "that's a decision that comes down the road and we'll have to cross that bridge when we come there."
LaLonde adds the board is, however, ready to move forward with talks for next year.
"We're willing to negotiate as soon as they are ready. Our focus is on the second year, or I should say next year's contract and the terms are settled for this coming year," said LaLonde.
Everitt hopes the board will reconsider.
"We urge the board to take this opportunity to reverse the course of last year and make this year one of healing and renewal for our district. Our students are counting on us to do so," said Everitt.
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