Tentative agreement reached with teachers union

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OCEAN CITY – Nearly two years after negotiations between the local school board and the teachers union commenced, it appears there may be a tentative agreement. 

At a Wednesday, Sept. 26 meeting of the Ocean City Board of Education, board member Joe Clark, who leads the school board’s negotiations team, announced that a new agreement with the Ocean City Education Association was in the works.

“We met Tuesday, Sept. 15, and after nearly eight hours, we are pleased to state that we have a tentative agreement,” he said. “It’s been a long road.”

Clark said that he wanted to “publicly thank” all involved for their professionalism throughout the process. The most recent meeting involved a state mediator.

Clark said he expects that the board will be able to vote to on the new contract at the Oct. 17 meeting, pending approval from the union. Ocean City Education Association members have been working without a contract since June 2011.

Meanwhile, negotiations with the support staff are on going, Clark said. After nearly seven hours spread over two days, also with a state mediator, Clark said the two sides were “unfortunately not able to reach a settlement.”

“We have scheduled another meeting for Oct. 28,” he said. “We made great strides, but we are just not where we need to be.”

Clark said the negotiations process can be “very frustrating.” From the public’s perspective, he said he understood that it seemed as though the process drags on for a very long time.

“I know the public has a hard time understanding why this takes two years,” he said.

Scheduling, with the number of people involved, he said, is difficult, and there is a lot of data that must be collected.

“It takes a lot of time,” he said, adding that he would like to thank all involved.

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