Madera Unified teachers ratify new contract

The Fresno BeeAugust 29, 2013 

Madera Unified School District teachers ratified a proposed salary-and-benefits contract Wednesday night, a move that could put an end to more than a year of rocky discussions between district administrators and classroom employees.

Teachers cast their votes Wednesday night on a plan promising a 2% salary bump and revisions to an initial proposal requiring teachers to attend training sessions without pay.

The most recent agreement will pay teachers their hourly rate for after-school training sessions and give educators more power than initially proposed to voluntarily transfer to another school.

The proposal still needs nods from both the school board and the Madera County Office of Education.

It's been a long and tumultuous trek for both teachers and administrators working to iron out disagreements on the contract.

Teachers union representatives have more than once said a strike was possible, but a walkout never materialized.

A mediator and fact-finding committee tried to find middle ground between the parties, but talks stalled over the summer when the fact-finding group took longer than expected to evaluate the contract proposals.

"The last several years have been extremely difficult for school districts and school personnel," district Superintendent Ed Gonzalez said, "and when you combine a difficult economic climate with some other stresses ... you have a perfect recipe for tension and mistrust and I think that's what we've seen over the last few years."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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