After 16 months of negotiations, more than eight months with the teachers working under the terms of an expired contract and the potential for the teachers to go on strike in April, the Greencastle-Antrim Education Association and the Greencastle-Antrim School Board have reached an agreement.

The 181 members of the teachers union voted electronically Friday and Saturday after the Greencastle-Antrim School Board approved changes Thursday to the tentative agreement reached in April.

Brandon Solomon, vice president of GAEA and its lead negotiator, said attorneys are preparing the final document for review.

Details of the agreement will be released after the contract is signed, according to Solomon, who declined to provide numbers on how the teachers voted.

The union represents teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, reading specialists and librarians who have been working under the terms of a contract that expired on Aug. 31, 2017.

School board 

School board members voiced their frustration with the process, attorneys, themselves and the teachers prior to voting on changes to the the tentative agreement reached in April to avert a strike by the 181-member teachers union.

The changes were accepted on a 6-2-1 vote with Linda Farley, Pat Fridgen, Scott Hart, Paul Politis, James Winslow and Shannon Yates voting yes, Tracy Baer and Mike Still voting no and Eric Holtzman abstaining.

"Both sides had to give, both sides didn't get what they wanted, but both sides got some of what they wanted," said Winslow, the board president.

"This has been very, very stressful for you guys and the board," Farley said to the standing-room only crowd of 40 to 50 teachers who filled the meeting room.

Still characterized the legal representation as "atrocious," explaining the board received changes from its attorney at 1 p.m. and the teachers union's attorney at 4 p.m.

"Trying to get the changes to vote on tonight has been a nightmare," Winslow said. "With that time frame, it's hard to read and digest."

What board members had in front of them at Thursday nights meeting were pages with changes, but not a complete document.

"We have a contract we can afford ... it works for you, it works for us," said Holtzman, who abstained because of the timing of the arrival of changes from both legal sides and an incomplete document.

Baer said while both sides negotiated in good faith, they were also guilty of using social media unproductively and "we did not act as adults."

"We presented a great lesson in how not to negotiate a contract," Politis added.

Background 

In December, members of GAEA voted twice to accept the terms of fact-finder's report and the school board voted twice to reject it.

The fact-finder's recommendations included salary increases affected by factors including educational levels and years of service. Those proposed increases and costs to the district were: 2.87 percent or $365,109 for 2017-18; 2.79 percent of $364,603 for 2018-19; 2.96 percent or $397,689 for 2019-20; and 2.96 percent or $409,780 for 2020-21.

Negotiations have resulted in lower salary increases and minor health care changes, but details have not been made public.