Still at Impasse, School Negotiations Go to Fact-Finder
Board of Education and Education Association begin process on Thursday.
"Since our last update, our representatives have continued discussions in an attempt to achieve a mutually satisfactory agreement," board of education vice president Patrick Breslin said at Tuesday's board of education meeting. "No agreement was reached."
Steve Beatty, president of the B-REA and social studies teacher at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, said after the meeting there has been no more progress since the two entities attempted to hold meetings once again in early June.
"There were no more full meetings with the two teams," he said. "Nothing official came out."
As for the fact-finding process, Beatty said, it will begin with mediation, as the fact finder will hear timelines, offers and perspectives from both sides.
"Then he will start doing his thing to get both sides to start moving," he said. "It will be a mediation at first."
Beatty said at the first meeting the fact-finder will attempt to reach some sort of agreement between the two sides.
"However long it takes for him to get the facts together, he'll make recommendations based on everything," he said. "He'll work as long as it is. Both sides have committed to the entire day and night."
"We are more than happy to do so, it would be time well spent," he added. "If at midnight we could walk away with a memorandum of agreement, [that would be great]."
On the other hand, Beatty said, the fact finder could determine after many hours that they will not get anywhere, and a deal cannot be formed through mediation.
In that situation, Beatty said, they could either try again on another day, or the real fact finding process could begin.
"Then we present with facts, figures and details, and at that point there would be no mediation," he said. "We say here's what we want, and here's why we believe it should be that way."
From there, Beatty said, the fact finder would take a couple weeks and write a nonbinding report about what he thinks the agreement should look like. The board of education and B-REA can determine from there if they accept that agreement or draft a new one with pieces of it.
"But we're at impasse now, and the first meeting he's here for is mediation," he said. "We hope to have a fair deal that we've been asking for all along."
For many, the goal is just to make some progress at this point.
"I really hope we can finalize this before the school year begins," said parent Penny Wolf at the meeting. "I feel on both ends, we as parents and the school district and the teachers all have to give a little bit. We would really like to see it finalized."