Meridian will return to the bargaining table

The on-again, off-again negotiations in Meridian are on again.

With an asterisk.

The Meridian School Board agreed this week to reopen talks with the local teachers’ union — but the negotiations will be limited to non-monetary issues. On July 1, the state’s largest district issued teacher contracts and declared an impasse in negotiations. Meridian Education Association President Luke Franklin said he was blindsided by the move, calling it “unnecessary and hostile.”

While the School Board agreed to the MEA’s request to continue negotiations, the subject matter is, well, negotiable.

District officials do not want to reopen financial issues, because they believe they have put every available dollar into teacher contracts, spokesman Eric Exline said Thursday.

The district’s final offer included a $1,000 bonus for veteran teachers who are maxed out on the salary schedule, and some pay raises tied to work experience and credits earned — the first raises offered in Meridian since 2008. District officials and the union wound up about $4 million apart after their last bargaining session on June 28.

Non-financial issues could include grievance procedures and union “association rights,” such as the ability to meet in school buildings and distribute information in school mailboxes. These topics have come up in previous bargaining sessions, Exline said.

It’s also unclear when talks will resume. Meetings have been tentatively set for July 30 and 31.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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