Teachers in the Springfield school district unanimously authorized Monday that negotiators send a strike notice to the Springfield Board of Education.
Springfield teachers have worked without a contract since June 30, and said federal mediation has been unsuccessful to solve the dispute. Monday’s vote allows negotiators to serve the school board with a 10-day strike notice if negotiations remain unresolved, according to a release by the Springfield Education Association.
Teachers ratified April 20 an arbitrator’s fact-finding report, which included a two-year salary freeze that also would freeze automatic longevity pay raises in the second year. Teachers would have seen their share of health-care premiums increase from 10 percent to 12.5 percent, according to the statement by the union, which represents 233 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, psychologists, and other district employees.
The board of education rejected the report April 25 by a 4 to 0 vote.
“Springfield teachers made it clear at Monday’s meeting that they believed they had no choice other than to consider a strike as an option after the Board of Education rejected a fact-finder’s recommendation for settlement on April 18, 2012,” the union statement said.
Springfield superintendent Kathryn Hott said district officials had not received the union’s statement, but she remained optimistic negotiations would continue.
“We are disappointed with that decision,” she said. “It has been, and continues to be, our intent to remain at the negotiations table and reach a settlement that is both fair and fiscally responsible.”
Though Ms. Hott said that the board of education’s rejection of the fact-finding report doesn’t necessarily mean the board rejected all of its findings, she declined to describe the district’s negotiation offers or what board of education members didn’t support in the report, citing ongoing negotiations. She declined to comment on the union’s claim that district negotiators pushed for larger concessions in recent negotiation sessions.
“We hope to reach an agreement that the teachers feel is fair and in the same way is fiscally responsible for the taxpayers in the community,” she said.