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Published: Sunday, 7/17/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Oregon teachers, board near deal

Union could vote as early as Tuesday on pact that includes concessions

BLADE STAFF

A closed-door meeting between Oregon schools officials and the district's teachers union ended Sunday night with both sides saying they were close to reaching a new contract.

Superintendent Mike Zalar and David Schafer, president of the 250-member union, said they were very close to reaching a tentative agreement on a new three-year agreement.

Oregon's contract with its teachers expires July 31.

Mr. Schafer and other members of the Oregon City Federation of Teachers negotiated for about two hours with Mr. Zalar and the Oregon Board of Education during the special meeting.

Mr. Schafer said teachers could vote to ratify the contract Tuesday and then it would go before the board of education for approval at its regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m.

"It is our hope that between now and then we can iron out our differences," Mr. Zalar said.

"We think that we have verbalized the understanding of what the agreement needs to be for both parties to approve it."

Mr. Schafer said, "We are very close. It is a matter of finalizing the documentation."

Both Mr. Schafer and Mr. Zalar said concessions are involved in the talks.

However, Mr. Schafer said he would not provide information on what the cuts entail until after he shares the information with his membership.

Teachers and other district employees agreed to pay freezes and changes to medical-insurance benefits in one-year contracts that were approved in 2010.

Even with the concessions, school officials had said they anticipated the system would be more than $1.6 million in the red for the 2011-2012 school year.

Mr. Zalar said the discussions with the union could produce significant savings for the school district.

"The contract proposal would improve our financial outlook in our long-term forecast," Mr. Zalar said.



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