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December 05. 2013 12:14AM

Windham teachers' contract in mediation

WINDHAM — After two years without a contract, members of Windham's teachers' union are hoping to reach an agreement with the School Board with the help of a court-appointed mediator.

Mediation sessions are scheduled to begin this week, according to local school and union officials.

In October, Windham Education Association President John Hayward announced that the union had reached an impasse with the School Board during the contract negotiations process.

"While we have offered multiple solutions to the outstanding matters being negotiated, we weren't able to come to a mutual resolution," Hayward said. "As the result, we are bringing in a third party to mediate the negotiations process."

Hayward added that, "It is our sincerest wish to come to a fair and just solution that supports the continuation of excellence in education that the people of Windham expect and deserve."

School Board members declined to comment on specifics of what both sides failed to agree on.

However, board Chairman Mike Joanis said both the WEA and the School Board presented multiple proposals to one another in various attempts to reach an agreement.

Joanis said a meeting between the teachers' union and the mediator would take place on Friday.

Windham's teachers have been working without a contract since their most recent contract expired in July 2011.

Voters at the March 2013 polls rejected a warrant article for a new, three-year contract that would have increased the budget by $107,259 this year and $563,473 in the coming year.

The tax impact of the article would have amounted to 5 cents per thousand dollars this year.

A total of 2,024 citizens voted against Article 3, the collective bargaining agreement with the Windham Education Association this past March. A total of 1,650 residents favored the proposed contract.

Should an agreement be reached, voters at the March 2014 ballots would have the final say on the matter.

This year's Windham school deliberative session will take place in February, with voting to take place at the March 11 Town Meeting.

aguilmet@newstote.com

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