Oxford School Board, teachers’ union approve fact finder’s Report
By Steven Hoffman
The president of the Oxford School Board and the leader of the district’s teachers’ union both said that compromise is at the heart of any successful negotiation—and the two sides may now be nearing a deal on a new teachers’ contract after more than 15 months of talks.
The Oxford School Board held a special meeting on Monday, May 4, to vote on the fact finder’s report regarding details of a new teachers’ contract. The fact finder’s report, which was prepared by Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board fact finder William W. Lowe, was made necessary after the two sides couldn’t reach a new deal. The district’s teachers have been working without a contract since June 30, 2014.
The board voted 8-1 to approve the fact finder’s report, with board member Rich Orpneck casting the only vote against it.
In advance of that vote, Dr. Pamela Brown, the president of the Oxford Area Education Association, reported that the teachers’ union “voted overwhelmingly” in favor of the fact finder’s report.
Brown, a teacher in the district since 2001 and the union president since 2009, called the findings “a good compromise” between the two sides, and said that an agreement would allow the teachers to focus all their efforts and energies on educating the children in the school district.
The school district and the teachers’ union received the fact finder’s report on April 27, giving the two sides ten days to review and to vote to accept or reject the report. Now that both sides have accepted the findings, the report becomes the basis of the agreement for a new contract. The two sides will need to finalize the language of the contract before it can be officially voted on by both sides.
Details of the fact finders report were not made public.
Both sides said that the agreement will reflect that there was compromise between the district and the teachers.
“Negotiations are about compromises, and I think that’s what we have,” said school board president Donna Arrowood.
“These negotiations are rarely a win-win for one side,” said Brown. “We got some things that we wanted, and the board got some things that they wanted. We can now move forward with nothing distracting us from the most important goal—educating students.”
While there is no timetable to finalize the language of the contract and to put it to a vote, Brown said that the teachers are eager to get the new pact approved.
In other business at the same meeting, the Oxford School Board approved two capital projects. The district has budgeted $110,409 for lighting in the classrooms and hallways of Jordan Bank School, and $122,693 for lighting for the classrooms and hallways in the Elk Ridge School.
The board will meet again on Tuesday, May 12 and Tuesday, May 19.