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Friday, August 21st, 2009

Teachers vote nay

By William Kincaid
The Celina Education Association (CEA) on Thursday night overwhelming rejected the ratification of a tentative agreement between itself and the Celina Board of Education members.
On Tuesday, board members and the CEA signed a tentative agreement for a two-year contract that would not become official unless ratified by the members of the CEA.
The vote was 118 to 26 in favor of rejection, according to CEA President Wally Ellinger.
"Everyone needs to be patient and understand that this is a process. I am confident that we will be able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement when all is said and done," Ellinger told the newspaper, pointing out that just like everyone else, he is disappointed as well.
Superintendent Matt Miller said he is disappointed too.
"Working through the process, I was encouraged by the fact that both parties came to a tentative agreement," Miller said this morning. "I thought that the outcome obviously would be a lot better."
"I'm concerned about where the process is at this point," Miller added.
The tentative agreement between the sides was coordinated with the help of federal mediator Steve Anderson.
"After a full and open discussion of all the terms of the tentative agreement, the membership of the CEA voted overwhelmingly to reject the tentative agreement and send the negotiators back to the bargaining table," Ellinger wrote in a press release. "A date will be set as soon as possible for the parties to resume negotiation with the help of (the mediator)."
The board of education is represented by attorney Bill Pepplewhile the spokesperson for the teachers at the negotiating table is Celina Middle School teacher Kathy Harty, Ellinger said.
No specifics of the proposed contract were revealed by either Ellinger or Miller.
"Under legal mandate, the terms of any agreement or potential agreement may not be discussed publicly until negotiations are finalized," Ellinger wrote.
He also added that Celina students will be back in the classroom on Aug. 25 and teachers will be focused on educating.
Anderson was brought into the school on Tuesday morning to revive negotiations between the two sides.
Both sides started negotiations on July 29 for a new teacher contract. After a single, six-hour session, no other meetings were scheduled. Miller had said the two sides were at a stumbling block.
Celina's teachers are working on the last year of a three-year contract that expires Aug. 31.
The last contract, which became effective Sept. 1, 2006, had teachers receiving a 2.75 percent raise the first year, 2.5 percent increase the second year and 2.25 percent increase the third year, Miller said.
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