Progress seen in Unionville teacher talks

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Sources say talks more productive, as students, parents express worries about potential strike
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

EAST MARLBOROUGH — After a stormy start, negotiations between the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District and its teachers union are said to be moving in a productive direction, with the pace of meetings picking up and progress being made toward a new agreement, sources told The Unionville Times.

Sources on both sides of the negotiation, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly for their side, said the tone of the talks had become more congenial and that progress seemed to be being made. After an exchange of public offers, both sides have refrained from making further public comments, even while the pace of negotiations have picked up.

Neither side would divulge details — or any specific changes either side had made to their last public offers — but sources on both sides privately expressed some optimism that a deal could get done without the members of the Unionville-Chadds Ford Education Association being forced into a strike.

Although parents have been expressing concern about the pace and tenor of the negotiations, it could be the growing concerns of the students that may be causing an additional spur to both sides to find common ground.

Scott Seidenberger, a junior at Unionville High School and the student representative to the school board, addressed the issue Monday night during the Board of Education meeting, saying that students were “worried” and that various rumors, including one suggesting a strike might happen right after the end of high school football season — UCFEA president Pat Clark is also Unionville High School’s football coach — and concerns that a strike might impact advanced placement courses and summer college visits of members of the junior class. Seidenberger urged both sides to come to a deal soon.

Those worries would be ended if a new deal can be reached, however. After a negotiation session on Nov. 10, the two parties continued talks on Nov. 15, actually meeting during the Board of Education meeting Monday night.

Sources suggest the major stumbling blocks remain salary and health benefits — and while some progress may have been made, a gap remains between the two sides on both issues.

In other school board news: the board will hold its annual reorganization meeting, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the school administration conference room. As is typical, the officers of the board will be elected as well some annual designation of official contracts. A regular board meeting is planned for Dec. 13.

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