‘A lot of issues on the table’ as MAPS Board of Education, teachers continue contract negotiations

Marquette teachers have been working almost a year without a new contract, and Monday night they continued to voice their frustration with the school board.

The Marquette Area Education Association held a rally to raise community awareness about the teachers’ contract situation.  MAPS teachers have been working without a contract since June 30, 2013.

“The teachers union and the district have moved towards that middle ground and we’re still continuing to find that ground,” MAEA co-president Don Barr said.  “I think we’re at a point right now where either side is comfortable–or interested, rather–in ratifying a contract from the other party, but we continue to meet.”

“We’ve had some great meetings, we feel like we’re getting closer, there’s a lot of issues on the table,” MAPS Board of Education president Rich Rossway said.  “Our biggest challenge is public schools are not really funded at the levels we have been in the past.  I know from the board’s standpoint, we’re receiving funding at the 2006-2007 level.”

One of the big issues the MAEA claims is holding up the contract approval is a method of payment called steps and lanes, which aims to pay both men and women teachers equally.

“Teachers are trying to preserve that in their contract,” Barr said.  “The  board has not offered to pay that at this point so we’re hoping that gets done soon.”

“Teachers in the district have always been paid on steps and lanes so we’re not asking for anything out of the blue, we’re not asking for a big raise, we’re just asking for the contract to be honored that we all signed up for when we signed up to be teachers at Marquette Area Public Schools.”

“The district is facing a lot of issues financially, and when you consider that (financial issues), it does make it difficult to come to an agreement that’s going to satisfy all parties,” Rossway said.  “I will state the board has made a commitment to our teachers that they would be the highest paid teachers in the county.  We feel they currently are, and we feel the offer that we have on the table does continue to fulfill them being the highest paid teachers in the county.”

A mediation session is scheduled to take place Tuesday afternoon.