AJHS Avoids Strike, Still Working on Deal

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By Sam Jones
By Andy Shofstall

UNION COUNTY -- Anna-Jonesboro High School teachers and administrators have been negotiating on and off for eight months. Thursday night they finally turned a corner, avoiding a strike for now. Yet there's still no agreement in place.

Both sides agree this is a step in the right direction. They say the most recent negotiation went well. However, without a formal deal, parents and students are in limbo.

They've been locked in negotiations since June of last year, working to find middle ground on a contract. They met this week with a potential teacher's strike looming. After more than three hours of talks, both sides found some resolution. 

Releasing this joint statement:

"[We] developed a framework to resolve the outstanding issues. Both parties are optimistic an agreement can be reached."

No one's revealing what that framework entails and both sides refused to comment on camera.

Parents are cautiously optimistic.

"I was hoping they'd come to an agreement because if they don't and they do end up striking then that's gonna be harder on teachers, the students, harder on parents," David Fisher explained.

Sophomore Nick Etter agrees, and worries a walkout is still possible.

"I hope they reach an agreement so that the school teachers won't go on strike.  My education is important," added Etter.

The district's faced deficit spending for three consecutive years now. To save money, the board's proposed a two tiered salary system. It would raise teacher pay at a slower rate. Last month, leaders on both sides agreed that was the biggest point of contention.

"That's a road I've not been down before, a road I don't want to go down," Teachers' Association President Scott Finders said.

"Even our two tier salary is competitive and would pay more in salary than any other high school district in this county," argued John Hughey, board spokesperson.

Administrators say both sides plan to meet more regularly now. They'll still use a mediator and negotiate without a deadline.

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