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Menahga School Board to review union's latest proposal

Menahga School staff negotiating committees may settle the 2009-11 teacher contract before the Friday deadline to avoid a hefty fine.

"It's a little bit more optimistic now," superintendent Mary Klamm said. "Hopefully Friday we'll get it done."

The school board has called a special meeting for 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, just a few hours before the deadline, to review a teacher master agreement that union representatives will propose.

The district must submit a settlement agreement by midnight Friday to avoid paying almost $20,000 in retained state aid funding.

But earlier this week, team leaders on both sides said an agreement was not likely to happen before the deadline.

"I think we made a lot of progress but we're not close enough that it's gonna fly," said school board vice chair Jody Bjornson, who served as the district's head negotiator until the end of 2009. "We don't see, as a board, that we have the money that they want."

Teachers were asking for additional salary compensation that the district wouldn't settle for because of a dismal economy.

Former superintendent and now consultant for the Menahga School District, Jerry Nesland, stepped in Wednesday to help out with the mediation process.

"Looking at both sides, looking at the data, I think both sides have a basis for a settlement," he said. "That's why we called a meeting because we think it's close, but it'll be right down to the wire."