(Host) Bennington area schools will be closed for an eighth day Friday as contract talks remain deadlocked between unionized teachers and the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.
Darren Allen is a field representative for the Vermont National Education Association. He says the teachers thought progress was being made, until the school boards rejected their proposal Thursday.
(Allen) "Again, I don’t understand exactly what is preventing the boards from completing the deal here. Contrary to what the boards have been saying, the teachers have been compromising every day"
(Host) Timothy Holbrook of Pownal is on the boards’ negotiating team. He says the teachers want a contract the school boards feel the district can’t afford.
Holbrook doesn’t expect talks to continue today. He says both sides need time to rethink their positions
(Holbrook) "We’ve been at this thing for ten days or so and I think each side just needs a day or two to recoup and give some extensive thought to how we might approach the situation that we’re in – Just because you walk into a room doesn’t necessarily mean that progress is going to be made."
(Host) Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca is calling on both sides to think of the students and their missed days of school.
In an opinion piece sent to media outlets, he points out that Vermont is one of only 13 states that allow teachers to strike. The commissioner says he’ll work for legislation to change that. He say the law would also bar school boards from imposing working conditions if negotiations break down.
The strike has cancelled school for some 3,000 students in Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal and Shaftsbury.