Teachers Reach Tentative Agreement

Article taken from The Portsmouth Daily Times, Tuesday, October 8, 2003

MINFORD — Following a second session with a federal mediator Tuesday, Minford School System teachers and administrators reached a tentative agreement on a three-year labor contract.

The teachers have worked without a contract since July 31.

A cost-of-living salary increase and insurance benefits were the main sticking points, according to Minford Educational Association President Jackie Scott. Math teacher Martha Oberley said the agreement calls for a 3 percent raise in each of the next three years. The teachers will vote Tuesday on whether to ratify the contract.

“ It’s not something I’m excited about,” she said. “I’ll vote for it because it’s enough not to strike over. But we have a long way to go to get educated people interested in the education field.”

Superintendent Dennis Meade said he hopes the contract will be finalized by Oct. 28. He said he was relieved an agreement was reached.

“ You always try to do what you can for the faculty,” Meade said. “But sometimes it takes a while before you reach an understanding.”

While the two sides were meeting at the high school, about 30 teachers sat outside the meeting room to support of the negotiating team.

“ We feel that teachers are underpaid,” Oberley said. “Like other professions, we are professionals. We’re highly qualified professionals and we deserve pay for highly qualified professionals.

“ When our administrators make close to three digits and we’re still below $50,000, most of us, it’s ridiculous.”

According to payroll figures obtained from Oberley, Meade will make $92,713 this year. The highest paid teachers will make about $46,000, but some teachers will make less than $30,000.

“ We love our schools and we support everything that is going on,” Oberley said. “But we also know that we carried over a huge sum of money from last year. There is money there to give the teachers a raise.

“ If there were not money there, we wouldn’t be asking for it. It’s there.”

Although there were few steps left to be taken before Tuesday’s agreement, Barbara Day, an art teacher, said a strike was not in the immediate plans.

“ I think we’re a long way off from a strike,” she said as the negotiations were taking place. “That would be in the future. There would be other things that would happen first.”

JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, Ext. 236.

Story created Wednesday, October 08, 2003.