Mediator next step in Windham contract talks
WINDHAM — A third-party mediator will be brought in to assist with the school district’s collective bargaining process after negotiations between the school board and the teachers’ union came to a halt this week.
Following the latest round of negotiations Tuesday evening, which were held in private session following the regular school board meeting, the Windham Education Association declared an impasse.
“While we have offered multiple solutions to the outstanding matters being negotiated, we weren’t able to come to a mutual resolution,” said Ryan O’Connor, lead negotiator for the WEA.
Union president John Hayward said he “felt confident that this third party would help the WEA and the school board reach the best settlement for the town and the students we serve.”
In the meantime, local teachers said they’d strive to maintain business as usual.
“We plan to continue providing the best possible education for our students, despite our differences with the Windham School Board,” Hayward said. “We just want to come to a fair and just solution — one that supports the continuation of excellence in education — that the townspeople expect and deserve.”
Contacted Wednesday afternoon, School Board Chairman Mike Joanis said he expected the negotiations to resume, with the addition of the new mediator, within the next couple of weeks.
Joanis declined to comment on specifics of what both sides failed to agree on, noting the need to “honor the confidentiality of the ongoing negotiations.”
He did note, however, that both the WEA and the school board presented multiple proposals to one another in their prior attempts at reaching a resolution.Joanis said a “mutually agreeable third-party mediator” would be used during continued negotiations.
“We expect it will benefit both parties,” he added. “Our goal, as a school board, is to successfully complete contract negotiations with the union and that goal remains unchanged.”
The WEA has been working without a contract since 2011, when their most recent contract expired.
A new contract went before voters at Windham Town Meeting, but was ultimately rejected.
This past March, 2,024 voted against Article 3, a collective bargaining agreement with the Windham Education Association. A total of 1,650 residents favored the proposed contract.