Ringgold teachers, district talking
A union representative for the Ringgold Education Association said she is confident a new teacher's contract will be worked out, but the resolution is months, not weeks, away.
When teachers and students headed back to the classroom Monday, the current union contract was just days from expiration.
Alisa M. Compeau, a UniServ representative, has sat in on the talks.
Employed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, UniServ helps local education units negotiate contracts. The chief negotiator for the Ringgold Education Association is local union president Diana Kristobek.
“We are definitely hopeful that we will get a contract in near future but have a lot work to do,” Compeau said. “There are nine or 10 issues still open and we're pretty far apart in a couple of those issues.”
Compeau said she couldn't share details of the contract talks, including the specific issues.
Following the directors' meeting Wednesday, director Bill Stein - the board's chief negotiator - was also optimistic about the outcome of the talks.
“There will be a contract,” Stein said following the board meeting. “The teachers and administration are working very diligently toward that goal.”
Noting Stein's comments, Compeau said, “It's good to know Mr. Stein is optimistic and we are, too. But I don't want people to think we will have a contract in a week or two.”
Compeau said it might take a few months of talks to work out the issues, but assured district residents that the teachers are working under the old pact while talks continue.
“A walkout is not even a thought in the association's mind,” Compeau said.
While school boards have raised concerns about state funding for education in recent years, that is also an issue of concern for the teachers. She said the status of recent state budgets for school district has had a tremendous impact on negotiations.
“The union recognizes that funding cuts from state are putting the strain on districts,” Compeau said. “We appreciate that and are trying find creative ways to do more with less. In end, we all have students in forefronts of our minds.”
The Ringgold Education Association represents 217 teachers, nurses and guidance counselors. The current five-year pact expires Saturday.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.