School talks ongoing

N egotiations are ongoing between the Granville Teachers Association and the school board. The two groups met with a mediator on Oct. 17, in order to come to a new agreement, with their differences mostly regarding staffing and salary issues.

The teachers’ union contract originally expired in June of 2010 and was eventually extended through June 2012. When negotiations failed to produce a new contract, the teachers association filed a formal declaration of impasse, citing such issues as salary, employee health insurance contribution, teacher workload and teacher evaluation procedures, according to John Shaw, president of the Board of Education.

On Monday, Shaw said he is pleased so far with the first session, which lasted for about six hours, but he could not discuss the matter further.  Union president Christine Cook declined to comment, citing a request from the mediator, Robert Bentley, who has asked all parties involved not to talk about anything from the meeting with outside individuals.

Bentley said the Public Employment Relations Board allows up to three mediation sessions. The sides will meet for their second session on Nov. 5.

If the sides do not come to an agreement after three mediated negotiation meetings, they could request a fact-finding process. This process falls under the New York state Public Employees Fair Employment Act, more commonly referred to as the Taylor law, which sets parameters for employee and employer relations.

If the district did request this course of action, the Public Employment Relations Board would name a fact finder, hold a hearing and produce a nonbinding report, which would provide recommendations for a possible solution, Bentley said.

The district could lose nearly half a million dollars if it does not have an agreement on teacher evaluation approved by February, a state mandate as part of its bid for federal Race to the Top aid. Both sides have said the agreement is a side issue in the negotiations.

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