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Deer Lakes School District official optimistic of on-time classes start

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 12:31 a.m.

Deer Lakes School District officials are expecting the new school year to start as scheduled on Sept. 2, despite not having a contract with the district's teachers union, a district spokesman said.

The district is about to start its second school year without a labor agreement with its teachers. Their last contract expired June 30, 2013. Teachers worked last school year under the terms of the expired pact.

Deer Lakes spokesman Jim Cromie said Monday the district expects classes to start as planned, although no negotiations are scheduled to be held before school starts.

Two negotiations sessions between the district and the union, the Deer Lakes Education Association, are scheduled on Sept. 18 and Oct. 6. Cromie called that a positive sign.

“We remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement that is fair to everyone,” Cromie said.

There was no mention of the contract or the ongoing negotiations at the school board's meeting Monday night, the board's last scheduled voting meeting before the start of the school year.

No residents commented on the issue, and teachers did not have any visible presence at the meeting.

A large number of teachers, many carrying signs, were present at the board's April meeting.

The district and union last met Aug. 13.

Teachers union President Kevin Cochran previously said the session was “not productive,” and the district and union are still far apart on some issues including salaries, benefits and contract language.

Cochran said previously that he is “pretty sure” school will start as planned.

A strike is not something the 132-member union wants to do, he said previously, “but there is some growing frustration.” Cochran did not return a call Monday evening.

The district's teachers return to work next Monday. Cochran said teachers will meet the afternoon of Aug. 26 to discuss their situation.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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