District announces impasse in contract talks

Contract talks between the Guilderland Central School District and the association representing its teachers have stalled and a state-assigned mediator will be called upon to help bring the two sides together.

District officials made a formal declaration of impasse regarding the talks on Nov. 21. The declaration is required under state law before a mediator can be appointed to assist in contract talks. The state’s Public Employment Relations Board chooses the mediator.

“The move to declare impasse was decided after numerous unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a new agreement,” said Guilderland Board of Education President Colleen O’Connell.

The district and representatives from the Guilderland Teachers’ Association have met more than 20 times since December 2010. The last contract talks between district officials and teachers took place in early November.

“Our intention has always been to work out a deal that’s fair to the district, taxpayers and the teachers,” said Maceo Dubose, the President of the Guilderland Teachers’ Association. “That’s what we’re looking for, and hopefully a mediator can help us to do that.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by O’Connell.

“We are cautiously optimistic that a mediator will help both parties come to an agreement that not only meets the needs of our committed staff but that is also fair to our taxpayers, as well,” said O’Connell.

Teachers in the district are currently working off of their previous contract which was adopted in July 2008 and which expired in June 2011.

Dubose said the slow-moving negotiations are not having an impact on day-to-day operations in classrooms.

“Our members are professionals, and teachers are still providing the same education they’ve always provided for the students in Guilderland,” said Dubose. “This is the next step, and we hope through a third party that we’re able to work out a deal.”

Both sides credit tough economic times as the main reason why the impasse was declared. District officials attribute the declaration to a mix of increasing costs and declining revenues.

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