QUINCY -- The Quincy School Board and Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel head next week into another session with a federal mediator no closer to reaching a new contract.
The School Board sent a proposal about a week ago to the QF through mediator John Weathers with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. That proposal "made a tiny move forward, but not what we were looking for," QF Co-President Jen Drew said.
A long break between the last bargaining session on Sept. 12 and one set for Monday, Oct. 16, did nothing to help.
"I think people are more frustrated that we don't have a contract yet," Drew said. "Our plan was to have one before the school year started. Now we're at the end of first quarter, and we don't have anything."
Drew admits the situation doesn't sound promising. "But things can change in a meeting," she said.
Board members met Monday, mostly in closed session, to talk about collective bargaining.
Superintendent Roy Webb characterized the meeting as "a good discussion," but whether it will move talks with the QF forward remains uncertain.
"I think the board has had a clear understanding where they want to be for six months. I don't think they're changing their talking points a lot," Webb said. "They feel very strongly that we have a great staff. We have dedicated individuals. They want to do everything they can for them, but we're coming off two years of deficit budget. They feel there is not a lot of money there."
Contract talks headed to mediation in mid-August after QF members rejected a second three-year contract proposal.
QF and the School Board announced a tentative agreement July 11 on a three-year deal. But union membership rejected the proposal, surprising leadership from both sides, citing concerns with a proposed increase in employee health care costs that outpaced a proposed salary increase.
The second proposal made two small changes to contract language, one dealing with the spouse portion of the health insurance and another making the third year an option year, meaning the contract could be reopened if district finances significantly changed.
Both proposals called for a 2.4 percent raise the first year, 1.5 percent the second year and 1.7 percent the third year. The district pays a percentage of monthly insurance costs for employees, with employees paying the rest, and there was a large difference in splits, especially for families.
Compensation and insurance remain stumbling blocks in reaching a new agreement, which must be approved by all subgroups in the union.
Also Monday, board members reviewed contract issues tied to the new K-5 elementary school buildings.
"We continue to try to figure out how to lower the cost of the Harrison building and have a building that is going to be equal to all the other four elementary schools," Webb said.