Laurel School District holds Arbitration Meetings - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Laurel School District holds Arbitration Meetings

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

LAUREL, Del.- The Laurel School District held the first of three arbitration meetings Wednesday afternoon to negotiate a contract with its teachers.

The Laurel Education Association, which represents the teachers, has been arguing with the district over a contract for many years. The last time the teachers actually had a contract was in 2010. Now, after several months of no agreement, a third party arbitrator has had to step in.

The Laurel School District has been in a bleak financial situation for a long time. Originally, the teachers wanted a salary increase, but realized it is not possible and stepped down. Now, they are pushing for better working conditions to keep the teachers teaching.

Susan Darnell is a first-grade teacher and President of the Education Association. She said these meetings are to talk about the language of the contract now that a salary increase is off the table.

"The teachers have stepped in to fill the gap financially in a lot of cases by buying things out of our own pocket and I don't think there's been an appreciation for what we've already given," she explained.

Some terms the teachers want are comp time, control of where they work and the choice to not be transferred.

The district says it wants what is in its best financial interest as well as the student's. Attorney David Williams represented the Laurel School District.

"We also want to reclaim some of the management rights that have sort of been given away over the years so that the district can once again exercise its authority and responsibility and manage the district much more effectively," Williams said.

Some people however, like high school teacher Patricia Hastings, think no matter what the situation is a lose lose.

"The students in the district have already lost because of all the fighting and all of this tension," she said. "We really did have to bring someone from the outside who doesn't know us, who doesn't know our kids, they had to come in and basically make this decision for us."

A decision will be made by the end of the last meeting on Friday.

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