District 46 imposes contract on teachers

PRAIRIE GROVE – The District 46 school board on Friday imposed the terms of its “last, best and final offer” on Prairie Grove Teachers’ Association, after 18 months of contract negotiations.

The district board in a news release highlighted a few of the “significant changes” in the contract, including an increase in the salary offer. But the district disclosed no figures or additional details.

Prairie Grove Teachers’ Association members, wearing black “PGTA” T-shirts, quietly walked out of the library at Prairie Grove Junior High and declined to comment on the four-year contract that goes back to 2011 and runs into 2015.

A phone call to District 46 Superintendent Lynette Zimmer was not returned Friday afternoon.

Late Friday, the negotiation team for the teachers association said it will explore options “to be able to continue negotiating until a mutually agreeable resolution is achieved.”

The two sides differ on salary, health insurance and retirement.

The school board presented a written offer to the teachers association Monday, followed by two bargaining sessions that the association described on its website as “very limited and controlled.”

The association said the offer froze teacher salaries for the first year and slightly increased pay for the following year.

“Recognizing the difficult economic times, we have offered to take a freeze if all other district employees did the same,” the teachers’ negotiation team wrote in an email to the Northwest Herald. “Unfortunately it is challenging to negotiate with people who give themselves raises but then choose to impose a freeze on the teachers.”

According to the 74-member teachers’ association, the board first presented a salary proposal in September 2011 that remained unchanged until “they lowered it in May 2012.”

Contract negotiations have been ongoing since late January 2011. Teachers at the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade district have been working under an expired contract since August 26, 2011.

In May, the teachers’ association declared an impasse.

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