The school board negotiating team held a mediation with the SEA team this morning at 9 o'clock. At this mediation, we offered a proposal that included a 3% general increase for each of the next two years. This is the percentage our treasurer had budgeted for, and this is what the SEA has been publicly stating that they wanted to have.
The SEA team refused to consider our proposal. The mediation ended.
I have not spoken directly with any of the SEA bargaining team members, but I can only assume that they read the Saturday edition of the Blade where Mike Wiederman was quoted as saying "It's going to cost us more to drag things out than to accept what was offered," he said. "If we have a meeting next week, it will be resolved."
And Mr. Wiederman was also quoted on the radio this morning as having said he was now able to "break the deadlock".
(side note: although Mr. Wiederman stated that a board member "challenged his right to vote on the contract", this statement was false - while some members of the community had done so, NO BOARD MEMBER had made that challenge, so I think he was misquoted)
Apparently, the SEA bargaining team holds a mistaken notion from Mr. Wiederman's comments. Although he has removed himself from his wife's insurance so that he may legally vote on the teachers' contract, that doesn't mean that he was planning to have the failed Tentative Agreement brought back for a second vote. It only means that the next time we have a TA before us, all 5 Board members will have a vote on the matter.
I should also tell you that Mr. Wiederman sent me a personal email just a couple of days ago, that categorically opposed what the media would have us to believe. In that email, he referred to the failed TA as "dead in the water", and not able to be brought back. He also stated that he was eager to now get the SEA back to the negotiation table so that a united board could vote together on a new, and fair agreement.
This Board was optimistic that a contract decision agreeable to both sides of the table would be obtained this morning - well within the strike deadline of Oct. 6th.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wiederman's quoted remarks have now set this effort back at least several days - and possibly permanently.
But - all is not lost. There is a Special Meeting scheduled for tonight at the high school auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Perhaps at this meeting, Mr. Wiederman will have a chance to clear up these misunderstandings so that our district may move forward and get this contract settled before any strike occurs, and before any taxpayer money is spent unnecessarily.