SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Talks between the South Burlington School Board and the teachers' union failed early Friday morning.
“It’s too bad that, yet again, this board doesn’t want to join us in reaching a settlement that will allow us all to move on from the divisiveness of the last school year," said Noah Everitt, a special education teacher at South Burlington High School who serves as the spokesman for the South Burlington Educators’ Association. "Instead of truly working in the spirit of reconciliation and compromise, the board continued the ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ approach it has followed for more than a year."
Teachers held an informational picket earlier Thursday afternoon, trying to drum up community support ahead of the negotiations. The teachers don't like the working conditions the school board imposed about four weeks ago. Some 240 contracts are now in dispute.
A local dad told us the school system is one of the biggest draws for living in this city.
"I think the only reason we live in South Burlington is not for the traffic, not for the mall, it's for the school system. And I think teachers are really dedicated and they're worth every penny," Dave Lamonda said.
We spoke with members of the school board and the teachers union as they were headed to the bargaining table. Both sides said they are ready to get to work and come to an agreement.
"We know that in Burlington it took many hours to reach a settlement. We're just hopeful that both sides commit to remaining at the table until there's a settlement," said Noah Everitt of the South Burlington Educators' Association.
"How well this goes tonight largely depends on whether the association understands the budgetary restrictions and pressures that the district is under," said Martin LaLonde of the South Burlington School Board.
Burlington is just recovering from a four-day teacher strike. That's something both sides in South Burlington are hoping to avoid.
Union members will meet Friday at 3:45 p.m. to decide on the next step.