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Voice: Most teachers are reasonable people — so what's the problem?

March 24, 2001

Regarding the contract dispute between the El Centro Elementary School District and its teachers, which has been going on for almost two years now, it's important to note that teachers have actually worked without a contract for three of the last six years. I guess the district must figure teachers should be used to it by now.

Although I am not a teacher, I've known a few over the years and have generally found them to be good and reasonable people and not the kind to provoke a fight. I'm not sure the same can be said of the administration and school board.

As a grandparent with three children currently enrolled in the district, it concerns me that so much money has been expended by the administration on outside legal counsel — specifically, San Diego attorney Woody Merrill, who has been the district's chief negotiator through this long and bitter process. Just how much has been spent in this way, I don't know, since the district doesn't advertise the figure, but I suspect it is quite a lot, and I don't blame teachers for resenting it.

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I imagine the 25 classified employees the district let go would be equally interested in knowing the amount paid to Mr. Merrill and/or his firm since June 1999.

It seems to me the board needs to take control of the situation and instruct its out-of-town negotiator to start doing his job — now. To do less, in my opinion, would be irresponsible.

GEORGE McFADDIN

El Centro

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