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School board, teachers at impasse

June 27, 1998

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Tensions are continuing between teachers and the Washington County Board of Education as the two sides try to find common ground in contract negotiations.

The Board of Education is offering teachers a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase, which is what teachers requested, but there is disagreement over personal days, said teacher Deborah Zacher, who is on the negotiating team for the Washington County Teachers Association.

Teachers typically get three personal days a year and can accumulate up to five, Zacher said.

The Board of Education does not want to allow teachers to accumulate up to five days, and wants teachers to use the days only for certain reasons, Zacher said.

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Teachers argue they should not have to give a reason for taking the days.

Last week, the teachers association issued an open letter to the Board of Education, asking for a meeting with the board to discuss the sticking points.

The teachers association claims in the letter that the board wants to declare an impasse, which "will cost the public tax dollars badly needed by the children of Washington County."

"You're regularly expressed desire to declare an impasse, and thus end the negotiations, are not supportive of good faith bargaining," according to the letter, signed by association president Sharon Chirgott.

The teachers association also placed an ad in The Morning Herald this week, telling anyone considering teaching in the county to call the teachers association first.

"We have important information to share," the ad read.

Zacher said the ad is meant to be a message to the school board that teachers are frustrated over the negotiations.

Board member Doris J. Nipps declined to comment in detail about the negotiations, but she said the offer is fair.

Donna Newcomer-Coble and John Hull, members of the board's negotiating team, say they do not want to declare an impasse.

Hull said he is hopeful a tentative agreement can be reached soon.

"Things are looking better," said Hull.

Hull said he did not know how much money is available for teacher salaries.

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