The Jordan Education Association declared an impasse Tuesday in contract negotiations with the Jordan District, after disagreements over pay and other issues.
The district and the union will now enter into mediation for the third time in four years, said Sandy Riesgraf, a spokeswoman for the Jordan District.
The school district offered to boost steps and lanes (pay teachers receive for years of experience and education) next school year but said it would only increase pay for the school year after that if the Legislature set money aside for that specific purpose. The JEA, however, believes that's unlikely.
"We are concerned that the district's unwillingness to consider salary increases for the 2013-14 school year puts the district at risk of losing quality teachers to surrounding school districts that are providing increases," said JEA President Jennifer Boehme, in a statement, noting that Jordan teachers agreed to forgo salary increases in recent years. Boehme did not immediately return calls Tuesday evening seeking additional comment.
Riesgraf, however, said Tuesday that it's entirely possible the Legislature could designate money for salary increases in the future. She also noted that teachers received 2 percent bonuses in November at a cost of $4 million to the district.
"The board is offering them everything at their disposal knowing full well that we may have to cut programs for students," Riesgraf said. "We're trying to balance the needs of the teachers and maintaining a quality education for our children." A board statement on the district's website about the impasse says the district is facing a $700,000 shortfall because of rising retirement costs.
The teachers also took issue with a district proposal to leave certain policies up to the board rather than open to negotiations, according to the JEA. Riesgraf said the district wasn't seeking to take any currently negotiated policies off the table but rather to not add to the list, in the future, of policies that may be negotiated.
Boehme said in the statement that the JEA believes it's important teachers have a voice in policies important to student learning and work environment. Riesgraf, however, said teachers' voices would still be heard in monthly meetings between the superintendent and the JEA.
Last year, the Canyons School District attempted to pull several of its negotiated policies off the table, and ultimately, that district's union agreed to give up student discipline as a negotiated policy.