Madera Unified and its teachers not yet facing deadline for wage deal

The Fresno BeeAugust 16, 2013 

Madera Unified’s superintendent has revised a statement he made earlier this week indicating the deadline to end contract negotiations with teachers was looming.

Ed Gonzalez, who started his new position on Aug. 1, said Monday he’d received a report from a three-member fact finding committee that’s currently assessing an embattled negotiating process between the district and its teachers.

A request made Monday by The Bee for a copy of the findings was not answered.

Gonzalez clarified his statements on Friday, saying he got a brief that day from his lawyer, but not the committee. He said that document outlined possible outcomes the fact-finding committee might recommend -- but was not the official report.

“I wanted to try to be very transparent,” he said, “but the reality is I should have taken a little bit more time.”

Submission of the final document would essentially kick off a 10-day window for final negotiations, giving both parties just a few days to find a resolution.

Hearing the news raised eyebrows among teachers' union officials, who said they never received a copy.

The district has been involved in difficult talks with its union.

David Holder, Madera Unified Teachers Association president, has said the district's proposals include a cap on medical payments and mandated teacher training without pay.

The district's most recent offer, he said earlier this week, also includes a provision giving administrators more power to transfer teachers to other schools.

Holder said teachers likely will strike if the district doesn't amend the proposals. He declined to say when a strike would begin.

Gonzalez has said districts have faced tough choices since 2008, as budget cuts from the state have forced schools to shrink expenses.

Reach the reporter at (559) 441-6412, or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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