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February 3, 2012
Dear School District Staff and Community Members:
I am writing to update you on a decision the District has made regarding negotiations with the Gresham-Barlow Education Association (GBEA). Today the District notified the Association of its decision to declare impasse.
The District entered into negotiations with the Association in April of 2011. For the last ten months we have worked to reach an agreement with the Association. In October the District requested a state-appointed mediator in an attempt to move negotiations forward. Two mediation sessions have resulted in tentative agreements on seven articles. We now have tentative agreements on 28 out of36 articles—however, the eight articles still on the bargaining table are critical to how and when we deliver instruction. In addition, the District’s long-term financial sustainability is impacted by five of the articles on the table.
The District and the Association worked for several hours on these remaining articles at the last mediation session. The District had hoped to see steady progress toward an agreement in a timely manner through its work with the Association. Now time is running out. There are only five months left in the school year, and the District is required to have a budget in place for 2012-13 by May 15. The declaration of impasse imposes a needed time restriction for reaching a resolution.
Key language proposals
The purpose of the District’s salary, insurance, and work year proposals is to minimize further reductions in staffing. Class sizes are already too high and any substantial increases to the budget would result in more cuts to staff and programs, and increased class sizes.
Current contract language needs to be modified to allow for changes to the high school schedule so our high schools meet the State’s standards for instructional time given the current level of staffing. Not making this change would mean even higher class sizes in our high schools to meet instructional time requirements.
What happens next
The District’s declaration of impasse moves the parties one step further along the process set forth by state law. This declaration of impasse does not mean that the District has abandoned efforts to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to the process.
During the coming weeks,the District will continue to work with the Association’s negotiations team through the mediated process to reach an agreement. If that effort is unsuccessful, state law provides for the possibility of implementation by the District of all or part of its final offer.
The days and weeks ahead will be critical. A lot is at stake that will affect students, employees, parents, and our community. The District will continue to communicate accurate, timely, and complete information.
Superintendent of Schools