Vermont is on the verge of its second major teacher strike of the young school year after the South Burlington Educators' Association voted Friday to walk off the job Oct. 4 if they don't have a new contract in place before then.
Noah Everitt, a high school special education teacher who serves the union spokesman, says the South Burlington School Board "abruptly" cut off negotiations last month, and imposed employment terms on district educators.
"The board had a choice of healing or disruption," Everitt said in a written statement Friday evening. "Sadly, driven by ideology, the board chose disruption. The men and women who teach the city's children are not going to stand by and watch the board plunge the community into a second straight year of tumult."
Everitt said the board can still avoid a citywide teacher strike by "return[ing] to the table, and without preconditions."
"The board can end the months of disruption we've all been through by reaching a negotiated settlement with us before Wednesday," Everitt said.
The South Burlington School Board issued its own release after the union's strike vote, saying it's "disappointed that the [South Burlington Educators' Association] has decided to take this step."
"Rather than disrupting the school year for our students and parents, the union should reconsider the concessions the board made [Thursday] night, return to the table, and get serious about negotiating a two-year agreement. We await a realistic and meaningful settlement offer from the South Burlington Educators' Association," board chairwoman Elizabeth Fitzgerald said in a written statement.
Fitzgerald says the board has already addressed the union's main concerns, which she says center on "an indexed salary grid and contributions to health care."
"The union needs to understand that the district is facing serious budget pressures this year and next year," Fitzgerald said. "We have proposed terms within the constraints of what is sustainable for our taxpayers and our offer represents a competitive compensation package."