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McDonald teachers still without a contract

Hundreds voice concerns to board

McDONALD — Nearly 200 residents, school staff and students gathered Wednesday to voice their concerns to the McDonald Board of Education that no contract has been reached with the district’s teachers’ union.

The board and members of the McDonald Education Association, which represents 55 teachers, met in a lengthy negotiation session Monday, but no agreement was reached. The board and union agreed to call in a federal mediator last month when the contract expired Aug. 31.

The next mediation session between the groups has been scheduled Sept. 18.

Brian Fedyski, a former district teacher with more than 35 years in education, stood in front of Superintendent Kevin O’Connell and members of the board of education noting the district’s teachers “have done a tremendous job and continue working without a contract.”

He said he understands it is difficult to negotiate a teachers’ contract but thinks after seven hours of negotiations on Monday and prior negotiation sessions last month, a pact would have been reached.

“On Monday, everyone was praying and hoping that negotiations would be resolved and things would take place. Members of this community want this contract to be done. Please resolve it by the next meeting,” Fedyski said.

Samantha Rozzo, a high school teacher and president of the McDonald Education Association, said the teachers agreed to extend their current contract to the end of the month.

“We care about our students and our community and appreciate the support we are receiving. We hope to be able to reach a fair and equitable contract,” Rozzo said.

Fred Gault, a retired teacher, said when he was in the district and was part of the negotiation team, contracts were reached in less than two weeks.

“Everyone wants this contract settled. Take care of it tonight,” he said to applause from most in attendance.

While several people questioned how much money is being spent on lawyers, with some estimating between $30,000 to $112,000, board President John Saganich said contract negotiation preparations for this year have cost $5,400 and the last round of neogotiations in 2016 was $4,450.

Parent Jaclyn Kuntz said the teachers do much beyond the school day, such as staying after school for activities and programs.

“The staff shows up and helps at many events for students. Your efforts do not go unnoticed,” she said.

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