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Increase concerns fixed-income consumers, others

POWER BILL

January 31, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

Both sides were cautiously hopeful as the latest round of talks between the El Centro Elementary School District and El Centro Elementary Teachers Association opened today.

"We're hopeful it will be resolved tomorrow," said Board of Trustees President Ron Hull in an interview Tuesday.

The two sides have been meeting intermittently for the past 18 months to negotiate a new contract for teachers. Talks were expected to start this morning.

While headway has been made at past negotiation sessions, the two major sticking points yet to be worked out as of this morning involve contract language regarding teacher duties beyond the regular school day and salary increases.

"We have high hopes because we feel we have to," said ECETA President Bruce Roberts. "We want it to work so much we feel it has to.

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"We'd love to go before the board at their February 13 meeting and thank them for resolving this," Roberts said.

Roberts and teachers in the district were joined by teachers from other districts, parents and students in a mediation-eve rally Tuesday in front of the district's offices.

After a brief pep talk, participants marched around the block while holding signs and ringing bells.

"Tomorrow (Wednesday) we'll be marching with our fingers crossed," Roberts said.

Hull said, "We understand their desire to make the community aware of what their plight is."

However, he said the issue has to be worked out at the negotiating table.

Coordinating the schedules for both sides and a state mediator has caused delays in getting back to the table, Hull said.

Hull said the district's negotiators go into every meeting with the full intention of settling the dispute.

"We hope tomorrow is the concluding meeting," Hull said during Tuesday's interview.

Staff Writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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