With contract negotiations at an impasse after a nearly a year of talks between the Eagle Point School District and the Eagle Point Employee Association, the association hopes to move the negotiations forward by holding a prayer circle Monday evening.

With contract negotiations at an impasse after a nearly a year of talks between the Eagle Point School District and the Eagle Point Employee Association, the association hopes to move the negotiations forward by holding a prayer circle Monday evening.

Monday marks the third mediation session between the district and the association since October 2011, when the parties agreed to mediation by the Oregon Employment Relations Board.

"This is not a superficial 'please let our side win' kind of an action,' " said David Sours, a teacher at White Mountain Middle School. "We're praying to move the process forward; which, of course, takes both sides to come together."

The prayer circle was suggested by Dawn Johnston, a second-grade teacher at Little Butte School.

"Something has been missing for me in this whole negotiation process," Johnston said in a press release issued by the union. "For me what was missing was faith.

"My faith is very important to me and I just wanted us to come together and petition God for both sides to make decisions that are truly based on what's best for our students."

Monday's mediation talks will begin at 9 a.m. and are expected to last all day and perhaps into the evening.

"Regardless of when meditation ends," Sours said, "the prayer circle will convene at 5:30 p.m."

He said the association is asking community members to add their support and join with them.

Scott Whitman, business manager for the school district, said he had heard of the prayer circle but he couldn't make any comment.

Eagle Point schools Superintendent Cynda Rickert was out of town and unavailable.

Contract issues being discussed between the district and the association include employee salaries, evaluations, work schedules and class size.

While negotiations continue, employees have been working under the existing contract.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.