Teachers, VCPS Impasse Hearing Tuesday

A public impasse hearing, to discuss differences dividing the Valley City Public Schools School Board and the Valley City Education Association, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Jefferson Elementary School gymnasium.
After failed negotiations between the school board and the VCEA, a state mediator was called to assist in the dispute. The school board declared an impasse in the mediation process in September after the VCEA mad it known they were unwilling to continue.
At issue are health insurance costs, step pay increases for teachers and banking of sick days. At least one issue, step increases for teachers, was previously negotiated and agreed upon. Currently, Valley City Public School teachers are the second-highest compensated teachers in North Dakota.
The school board is unwilling to compromise at this time, according to Valley City Public School Superintendent Dean Koppelman, because unexpected expenses last year left the district's reserve fund below the recommended minimum, and officials want to rebuild that fund.
The next step in the process was to facilitate a state-appointed fact finding commission to examine both sides of the debate.
The North Dakota Century Code established the fact-finding process to "consider the facts, make its findings and issue a recommendation; or consider the report and recommendation of its fact finder and, after any further investigation the commission elects to perform, makes its finding and issue a recommendation."
During Tuesday's meeting, the fact finding committee will make its findings public.
If, after the fact finder makes recommendations, the issues remain unresolved, a mediator could be called in again and recommendations published.
If the two parties still do not reach an agreement, the next step for teachers would be to take their case to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Read this story in Monday's Times-Record.