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Teacher contract talks to resume

February 09, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County Board of Education and teachers' union representatives will resume contract negotiations this week, officials said Tuesday.

Last week, the school system announced plans to restructure teaching positions at Bester Elementary School and in the math and English departments at South Hagerstown High School in an effort to improve students' academic performances.

The plan is to do something similar to the teacher restructuring that took place at Eastern Elementary School more than a year ago, when teachers had to reapply for their jobs because the jobs were redesigned with different hours, Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said Tuesday.

In reaction to last week's announcement, Claude Sasse, the president of the Washington County Teachers Association (WCTA) issued a written response, stating the school system's action "has forced WCTA to temporarily halt negotiations until the question of good faith bargaining is resolved."

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School Board General Counsel Tammy L. Turner and Sasse said negotiations on the new teachers contract will resume Thursday.

The sides also will plan Thursday what they want to talk about during a negotiating session Monday, Sasse said.

Negotiations also will resume concerning the teacher restructurings at Bester and South High, possibly on Monday, Sasse said.

On Tuesday, the school system issued a clarification about last week's announcement regarding Bester and South High.

According to the statement, "the news release was in no way intended to imply that the Board would unilaterally implement any changes that are subject to the negotiations process."

"WCPS (Washington County Public Schools) officials recognize the importance of a cooperative relationship with the Washington County Teachers Association (WCTA) and are committed to bargaining with the teachers' exclusive representative," the clarification states.

Morgan said school board officials need to negotiate with the union any kind of compensation or special arrangement regarding Bester and South High.

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