Teachers, board hold 'productive' mediation
The two sides met for more than eight hours and agreed to say very little about what they did Monday.
“We are still working toward a voluntary settlement,” said Jennifer Fanning, co-lead negotiator for the Janesville Education Association.
“We had a productive session today,” said Superintendent Tom Evert, representing the board.
“Sure, it was productive,” Fanning said when asked if Evert’s comment was accurate.
“The mediator has requested that we meet again in March, and all parties are checking calendars to arrive on a mutually agreeable time in March,” Evert said.
The two sides have not been able to come to agreement on their own. They started negotiations last spring. The school board filed for mediation in September, but Monday was the first meeting with a mediator.
Marshall Gratz of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission is the mediator.
The two sides did not meet face-to-face Monday, Evert and Fanning said. Rather, Gratz was a go-between as representatives from each side stayed in separate rooms.
The teachers, meanwhile, kept up the pressure on the school board. They are sending a mailing to all district parents about the merits of their bargaining position, and they plan a protest tonight.
The teachers plan to march with supporters at Craig High School at 6:30 tonight and then to attend the Janesville School Board meeting in Craig High School’s large auditorium at 401 S. Randall Ave.
Teachers planned “to crowd the 7 p.m. board meeting,” according to a news release sent last week.
The meeting originally was to be in the board room at the Educational Services Center, but on Monday the school board announced its meeting would be at Craig “to accommodate an anticipated large number of attendees.”
“JEA members and supporters hope that public pressure on the School District of Janesville board members and administration will encourage the SDJ to properly fund education in Janesville,” the teachers’ news release reads. “JEA members have been working without a contract for 227 days (come Tuesday, Feb. 12th) and face further job cuts next school year.
“The JEA and its supporters desire a fair contract offering and the preservation of school programs and staff positions.”