Touchet, teachers reach contract agreement

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TOUCHET - The school board adopted a letter of agreement with the Touchet Valley Education Association during a special meeting Monday night, ending months of negotiations that eventually went to mediation.

At issue was loss of professional development time, increased out-of-pocket expense on insurance and loss of contracted work days.

The agreement did not include the out-of-pocket insurance, because teachers took that off the table, Touchet Education Association President Cathy Plucker said Tuesday.

Teachers ended up with fewer shortened instructional days than they had last year and will be directed by the district. In previous years, teachers decided how their time would be used during the early release of students.

So far, there have been five district-directed periods, and the agreement adds six more late-start days, also directed by the district.

Two additional days were added to the 2009-10 contracts, with a Learning Improvement Day added to replace one dropped by the state, and a district-directed professional day.

All board members were present and voted unanimously to adopt the agreement.

The board met in closed session for 45 minutes prior to the vote to discuss the negotiations and pending litigation.

About a dozen teachers attended the meeting, but no public comment was allowed because it was a special meeting.

Superintendent Dan McDonald was to meet with representatives of the TEA Tuesday to explain why paychecks were not issued Dec. 18 as required under the teachers' contracts.

McDonald will meet with TEA representatives today to discuss a grievance filed Dec. 22 regarding the late paychecks, Plucker said.

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