Medford teachers may vote on new contract proposal

After nearly nine hours of negotiations Tuesday, the Medford School District asked the Medford Education Association to present the district's most recent proposal to its members for a ratification vote.

"School Board members Sally Killen and Kim Wallan, who are on the district's bargaining team, said the board would stand by the proposal if it could be ratified, at which point it would replace the contract implemented Dec. 20, 2013," Superintendent Phil Long said.

At the end of last Friday's negotiating session, the district offered a new proposal that included the six tentative agreements made in the Jan. 7 negotiations and better-defined teacher preparation time, grading time and Professional Learning Communities, "the time dedicated for collaboration among teachers."

At yesterday's meeting, the association presented a counterproposal at 11:30 a.m., which the district considered and responded to with an amended proposal at 2 p.m.

The association returned with a second proposal around 5 p.m.

"At the end of the day, the district asked the MEA to take the district's most recent offer, our 2 p.m. offer, to its members and asked for its support via a ratification vote," Long said.

"We're in the process of taking all pieces and putting them into a final, edited document, that will be posted on the district's website sometime tomorrow afternoon."

Compared to last Friday's proposal, the district's new offer reflects only a few additional changes

"In the article related to early retirement, we had the age a person could qualify — 58 — moved back to 57," Long said. "For someone who qualifies for that, it is a significant adjustment."

The new contract also reflects minor changes regarding the role and authority of the insurance committee.

In its proposal, the association asked that its teachers receive about an 11 percent raise, which includes a 2.5 to 2.9 percent cost-of-living increase for this year, the 6 percent contribution to the Public Employees Retirement System, which the district had previously paid, and another 2.1 percent for the longer school year.

The association's new proposal also included a guarantee of 40 minutes of additional prep time per day for elementary teachers and a 3 percent stipend for teachers who had worked for the district for 17 years or longer.

Long calculated the additional prep time would require the district to hire eight and half more teachers, an ongoing obligation of $850,000.

"The only way to meet the financial costs of their requests would be to reduce positions and/or programs," he said.

"We had some big money pieces in play. When we analyze, we really believe our last proposal demonstrated substantial movement."

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or by email at Follow her at

Clarification: This headline has been updated to more accurately reflect the next step.

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