Quincy teacher contract negotiations back on the table

The current contract for Quincy teachers expires August 23. / file photo

The current union contract that represents Quincy teachers expires in less than a month. The school board and teacher's union have met throughout the summer hoping to reach an agreement by the August 23 deadline.

We spoke to both sides Wednesday to find out what the future holds for Quincy teachers and if these negotiations will be anything like the long-drawn out process from last year.

"Last year, statewide there were a tremendous amount of school districts that only agreed to one year contracts. Number one because of the fiscal uncertainty of the state. Neither side wanted to go with a long-term contract not knowing what was going to happen, so there were some 800 districts and we were one of them," said Superintendent Lonny Lemon.

That one-year contract is up in August, so it's back to another round of negotiations.

"Contract negotiation is a process.We started the process early this summer.We've met several times already and have respectfully exchanged proposals with each other. Some progress has been made, but we're both working diligently to work on a contract we can both agree to," said Luan Sandberg, the new president of the Quincy Federation of Teachers.

"We're finishing up the language and are now to the point salary compensation," said Lemon.

There is one issue that won't be resolved until state lawmakers make a decision on a bill.

"With Senate Bill 7, there are some key pieces in our contract it's going to address," said Sandberg.

"Teacher tenure, seniority, data collection. It was a very lengthy 1,000 page bill, so it's very complicated.So it doesn't do us any good to decide on something that could change by law or statute," said Lemon.

Just in case negotiations go anything like last year, "we have mutually agreed on seeking a mediator to help us understand things differently," said Sandberg.

What happens if we don't meet the deadline? "Probably the same process as last year," said Sandberg. "Working throughout the school year without a contract."

But the district is hopeful it won't come down to that.

"Both sides have made a conservative effort that we want to speed this up.We've met twice this week, so we should get this done sooner than later. Again, you never know, you just don't know. Both sides are very conscious that we don't want this to be the lengthy process it was last year," said Lemon.

Both sides have requested for a federal mediator to step in during future negotiations.

You can read the full 2010-2011 contract here.