Bennington area schools will be closed for an eighth day Friday as contract talks remain deadlocked between unionized teachers and the school boards of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.
District Superintendent Catherine McClure says negotiations broke off Thursday at 3:45 p.m. McClure says the boards reported no progress on any of the issues that divided them on Wednesday – salaries, health care contributions and the question of how teachers divide their work days.
A spokesman for the union says the teachers made significant concessions of health insurance and work day issues. But the two sides remain unable to agree on a structure for salaries.
McClure says no new negotiations are currently scheduled but that she is talking with the president of the teachers association regarding her concern for students and families who are suffering from the strike.
Meanwhile, Vermont Education Commissioner Aramndo Vilaseca has expressed concern for the effect of missing school on the Bennington area students’ academic progress.
In an Opinion piece sent to media outlets, the commissioner notes that Vermont is one of only 13 states that allow teachers to strike, and the only state in New England that permits walkoffs by teachers.
Vilaseca says he won’t take sides on the issues involved. But he says he will work for legislation barring teachers’ strikes.
And he says he’s calling on both sides to consider the impact on students and families.
The strike has cancelled school for some 3,000 area students in Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal and Shaftsbury.