After nearly 10 hours of negotiations with a mediator on Wednesday, the Bonneville Joint School District and its teachers reached a tentative contract agreement.
“It was a day of back-and-forth and back-and-forth, but I think we reached an agreement that will be good one,” Deputy Superintendent Marjean McConnell said.
Bonneville Education Association leaders confirmed the agreement in a message posted to their Facebook page Thursday afternoon.
The two sides were unable to ratify a master agreement before the state’s fiscal year began July 1, and decided to call in a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Portland., Ore.
Other Idaho school district teachers and officials, including those in Twin Falls, have used an FMCS mediator to help foster an agreement.
Serving students in portions of Idaho Falls and the city’s surrounding area, Bonneville is the fifth largest district in the state, based on enrollment.
Bonneville teachers already received individual contracts for the upcoming school year, but documents made it clear the contract could be amended once a master agreement is ratified.
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McConnell said the two sides met at a neutral location and worked out of separate rooms. She praised the FMCS mediator, who moved options and proposals between the two rooms.
Although they struck a tentative agreement, both sides still must formally ratify the terms. The Bonneville Education Association will meet Tuesday, while School Board members scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday.
Bonneville’s school year begins Sept. 3.
“It’s a great thing to put behind us and move ahead,” McConnell said. “We’re glad we’re settled before school starts. It gives everybody a sense of stability moving forward.”
McConnell said Wednesday’s mediation session was “grueling” at times. Multiple changes to labor and collective bargaining laws in recent years were a factor in extending the negotiations, she said.
“I think we came out with a good relationship with our teachers,” McConnell said. “We’re moving in a good direction, and our relationship is critical. We want to work together.”