Janesville50.3°

Contract talks remain murky

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
January 22, 2008
— Chances for a quick contract settlement for Janesville public school teachers appeared to dissolve Monday.

The two sides met Jan. 14 with a sense of optimism. Both sides made offers. They met again Monday, briefly.


Something went wrong. The two sides’ versions differ on what happened, but the result is that both are preparing to take their cases to a state mediator.


Superintendent Tom Evert would not discuss the situation this morning, saying he needed to meet with board members to prepare a statement. He promised to have that statement ready later today.


School board member Lori Stottler said the board wants to get the details of its message on paper so that it can’t be misconstrued.


Dave Parr, co-lead negotiator for the Janesville Education Association, said Evert’s first words at Monday’s meeting were that the board believes the two sides should go to mediation.


School board member Lori Stottler remembers it differently: “Tom said he wanted to go over some of the items in the offer, to clarify, and that the board feels they have a very fair offer on the table, and if we can’t get anywhere today, then the board feels mediation may be the way we want to go.”


Parr said that if the board wanted mediation, then it was pointless to negotiate further.


“Dave Parr’s words to us were that it was going to get ugly, and that’s the last thing we want,” Stottler said, adding that she would like to rally public support for both sides.


“This is a tough spot to be in, but you know what? Our economy is in a tough spot. Our district is in a tough spot,” Stottler said.


Parr said he expects mediation on the 2007-09 contract to continue until a voluntary settlement is reached for the 2009-11 contract, and teachers will continue with job actions for a year and a half.


Stottler said mediation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and people should give it a chance.


“I don’t think we’re as far apart as most people think,” she said.


Friday, Feb. 15, is a tentative date for mediation.



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