Medford School Board implements contract without union support

The Medford School Board unanimously voted Friday to implement a new contract for teachers without support or approval from the teachers union.

The contract includes all of the financial pieces the district proposed in its last contract offer in November, but was amended to include four other changes in contract articles that teachers and the district have negotiated since.

"This has been their plan all along," said union president Cheryl Lashley. "The law did not require them to implement."

Lashley and other union representatives were upset with the board's decision, though few were able to attend the 11 a.m. meeting because they were in school.

The implemented contract gives teachers a 12 percent pay increase over three years, with the initial raises beginning Dec. 20 and retroactive to the beginning of the school year.

"You'll have reality stare you in the face when you get your first check," said board member Larry Nicholson. "It's important to get the financial pieces going."

Teachers will now be responsible for paying their 6 percent contribution into the Public Employees Retirement System pensions, something the district previously paid.

Health insurance coverage will be capped at $12,600 per year, and the district will sunset its early retirement option in March, instead offering $1,500 per year of work to teachers who are retiring.

Superintendent Phil Long said the administration is willing to continue meeting in small groups with union representatives to settle the contract and get it ratified. He said he believed it was necessary to implement a contract by the end of the cooling-off period in their negotiations, Dec. 19.

The articles changed since the district's last offer included an article about Medford Education Association dues and another about professional development funds and site committees.

"We're really disappointed," Lashley told 12-year board member Tricia Prendergast after the meeting. "We thought you would stand with us."

— Teresa Ristow

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