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Our Opinion: Finally, some movement

June 01, 2001

It's been a long road for the El Centro Elementary School District in its contract talks. We have found many reasons to hammer both sides of the issue over the failure to reach an agreement and the effect such a failure has had on the quality of education.

Now, it appears an end to the dispute could be in sight. Negotiators for both sides of the dispute met for a 12-hour session recently and while neither side gave specific information about the talks, both sides said they moved closer to an agreement. In fact, for the first time since the talks have been taking place, the two sides seemed to have much kinder words to offer on the issue.

What the two sides stated was that it might be possible to reach a contract agreement before the end of the school year. Another round of talks is expected to take place in June.

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This is good news. While an agreement has not yet been reached, the manner at which both sides emerged from the talks seemed to suggest an agreement could be close at hand. Such an agreement needs to happen, and it needs to come before the start of the next school year. The students deserve better than they got this year.

Sure, teachers may not have lowered their standards of teaching and the education process moved forward. Still, students deserve perks such as after-school tutoring and they didn't get that service this year. That extra help can make the difference in a student's success.

We think neither side has behaved as it should have. If they had, an agreement likely would have been reached long ago. We can only hope a corner has been turned, and that agreement will be reached in June. An agreement approved by both sides would represent a compromise. Any such raise provided to teachers should include a retroactive measure like other school districts have implemented in recent contracts.

The struggle for an agreement has gone on long enough. If no agreement is reached, a strike, an action not seen in the Valley for many years, could be possible. That doesn't have to happen. We are pleased to see a change in attitudes emerging. We wish those involved luck in bringing a close to the controversy and in looking toward a new and much more positive school year.

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