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Manatee teachers union, school district declare contract impasse

BRADENTON -- School district officials and teachers union representatives could not reach a decision after six months of salary and bonus talks and have declared an impasse – meaning only an external individual will be able to help the two opposing groups agree.

School district officials declared an impasse on Jan. 12 and sent a hand-delivered letter to the Manatee Education Association, which represents teachers.

The letter, written by Chief Negotiator Darcy Hopko, states, “Although we have made progress on some items, we do not seem able to resolve some difficult issues before us.”

Out of 28 points in the collective bargaining talks, tentative agreements have been reached on two points involving planning days and highly qualified teachers. Two other issues were resolved involving supplemental salaries and record days. The remaining 24 points illustrate the chasm of agreement between MEA and the district.

“We were hoping we could come to some kind of agreement that was fair and reasonable,” said Pat Barber, MEA president.

School district officials do not want a mediator involved in the process, according to Hopko’s letter to the association. Instead, a special magistrate has been requested to help resolve the impasse.

For a full report on this story, see Saturday’s Bradenton Herald.