With Tentative Deal, Burlington Students Head Back To School Wednesday

Sep 19, 2017

After four school days on strike, Burlington teachers and the city's school board announced Tuesday evening they had reached a "tentative" deal that would allow classes to resume Wednesday.

According to a release from the Burlington School District, the "tentative contract agreement" was reached after an eight-hour mediation session Tuesday. Both sides still need to ratify the deal, but classes for the roughly 4,000 students and all after-school activities will resume Wednesday.

Until the deal is ratified, both sides have also been instructed to "not disclose the specifics of the tentative agreement."

The district also released the following statement from Stephanie Seguino, the chairwoman of the board's negotiations committee:

These last weeks have been tremendously difficult for our entire District community. We have learned from this experience and are ready to move forward in a way that is collaborative, builds bridges, and heals old wounds.

First and foremost, we learned during this process that talking face-to-face is how we find common ground. We learned that we share much more than what divides us. We know that all of us — the teachers, the BEA, the parents and community members on the Board are all committed to ensuring a high quality education for all of Burlington’s children. Essential to this is a school climate that is inclusive and welcoming — for all of us.

Bob and I have talked throughout this year and I have learned a lot. It is clear to me that our school district has the benefit of teachers who care about their kids and go the extra mile to support them. And it important to know that all of us are all committed to closing the achievement gap for kids whose needs are not easily met by the traditional models and resources that we all inherited. We share that.

Hard times have left hard feelings but my talks with Bob have left me understanding that we are committed to working towards collaborative and cooperative relations. This will require us to sit down and listen to each other—so that the Board understands the challenges teachers face and the teachers help us understand how to integrate their expertise into a coordinated strategy for achieving our mutual goals within our stewardship of community aspirations and financial parameters.

There are a variety of models that can help us do this work and we have begun to look into them. For my part, I will do everything I can to help start us on this path as soon as is feasible so that we move forward and not repeat the mistakes of the past, and so that our school district reflects what is best about Burlington—our creative, vibrant, and compassionate community.

The teacher's union announced a plan to meet Wednesday and are expected to vote on the deal then. If the union votes to ratify the deal, Seguino says the board will make its decision.

Burlington superintendent Yaw Obeng said school officials have yet to make a plan as to how or if the district will make up the lost school days.