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Washington Co. teacher talks 'positive' so far

Salary, benefits and other issues to be discussed at public bargaining session

Salary, benefits and other issues to be discussed at public bargaining session

January 16, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN ? Officials representing the Washington County Board of Education and the county's teachers' union will meet today for their first public bargaining session.

The teachers' current three-year contract expires in June.

Both sides have met several times since October. Salary, benefits and other issues will be discussed.

Negotiations on portions of the 2007-08 teachers' contract were completed in June 2007. That package, which totaled about $8 million, included a 7 percent raise for teachers, among other items.

Tim Thornburg has said that both sides realize that this year and possibly the year after will be very "lean" years for the school system's budget. Thornburg is supervisor of human resources and employee/labor relations for Washington County Public Schools, and also is the board's chief negotiator.

Both sides have said the tone of negotiations so far as been "positive."

T. Scott Miller, Maryland State Teachers Association UniServ director and Washington County Teachers Association negotiations consultant, said the teachers' union looks forward to moving forward with negotiations and proposals from both sides.

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"We welcome member participation and public input," he said.

Current negotiations could have included the full contract. However, each side has brought issues to the table they would like entered into the contract. Those items will be discussed along with salary and benefits.

The WCTA has brought forth temporary leave, which includes bereavement leave and religious observance; planning time; association rights, which includes six items; establishment of a health care committee; having current health care benefits for retirees placed into the contract; and improvement to contract language regarding a leadership program for teachers, officials have said.

Thornburg said the board has asked to negotiate on issues related to the teacher workday, including a request that teachers have two mandatory evening meetings; monitoring duties, including lunchtime hallway duty; workers' compensation; reassignment of vacated positions; voluntary transfers; extracurricular activities; and areas of critical needs.

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