Blaine County negotiations hit a deadlock

(CORRECTED, 6:03 a.m. Wednesday, to clarify the nature of Thursday’s meeting.)

Contract negotiations in the Blaine County School District have hit a standstill.

Blaine County Education Association members rejected a proposed master agreement last week. In the wake of that vote, district officials defended their offer.

The proposed offer would have provided automatic pay raises to 70 percent of the district’s certified staff and 100 percent of its classified staff. Automatic raises would have ranged from 1 to 3 percent, depending on experience and education.

“The salary schedule for both certified and classified staff costs the district approximately $1 million annually for automatic pay increases,” Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said in a news release. “District revenue is capped at a fixed amount and the district has limited options. The funds for additional cost of living increases on top of automatic increases in the salary schedules, while also maintaining health benefits, are not available in this budget.”

However, 78 percent of the BCEA members who voted in last week’s election opposed the agreement, the Idaho Mountain Express reported.

“This vote reflects the general feeling among teachers in the district that this contract was not a win/win for the district or the certified teaching staff,” the BCEA said, according to the Mountain Express.

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District and union leaders have a work session scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at district headquarters.