In Lawrence, 7 years and counting with no new teacher contract

In July 2017 a state fact-finder issued non-binding recommendations for a nine-year deal running through the 2019-20 school year.

Teachers in the Lawrence school system are calling on district officials to resolve a contract-negotiation impasse that is about to enter its eighth year.

“All we’re looking for is a fair agreement,” said Lori Skonberg, president of the Lawrence Teachers’ Association, which has nearly 270 members. “That’s been our motto for seven years. All we want is a fair agreement for the teachers and students of Lawrence.”

According to New York State United Teachers, the statewide federation of local unions, educators in Lawrence have now been working under an expired agreement longer than any other teacher bargaining unit in the state.

The union and its members, along with a representative of NYSUT and the national American Federation of Teachers, plan to press their case before the board of education at its meeting Thursday night, Skonberg said.

Board President Murray Forman said that there were “legitimate differences in the negotiating positions between the district and the teachers.”

But some headway has been made, he said. “There’s some intense negotiations that took place over the last six months, during which I truly believe most of the gaps were bridged.”

There are “several problematic issues with the existing contract, and we are in good faith negotiating through them,” Forman said. “It’s just a matter of teachers saying yes.”

District Superintendent Ann Pedersen did not respond to a request for comment.

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