MEA officials say teachers seem pleased with agreement

Medford Education Association officials said the tentative three-year agreement between the Medford School District and its teachers union announced Friday was well-received by its 600 members at a meeting Sunday night.

MEA members met at Central Medford High School to hear out contract specifics. Early retirement, prep time, cost of living, secondary class loads, and protections for special education teachers are among the former sticking points both sides have reached tentative compromises on, according to MEA President Cheryl Lashley. The contract, which goes through June 2016, still must be ratified by the members of the teachers' union and the school board.

"All those things we came to agreement on. There was some give and take from both sides, and we were able to come to what our team feels really good about," Medford Education Association President Cheryl Lashley said. "That our members will accept, not just that they've settled for something."

District officials concurred with the sentiment.

"I am really confident that things are going to work out," said Medford School Board member Sally Killen. "I am absolutely confident that this is a do-able contract that nobody is 100 percent satisfied with but everybody can live with."

Union members will not vote on whether to ratify the new contract until at least the end of the week. But ratified or not, teachers walked back into their classrooms Sunday afternoon as they got to work preparing for the new school week. A crowd of South Medford High School educators gathered in front of the building and belted a chorus of the school's fight song before heading inside together, most of the group donning the school's blue colors.

"It's very strange. It feels good to be on the other side," said South Medford biology teacher Mike Vediner. "It's going to be interesting to get in the classroom. I've missed the kids."

— Ryan Pfeil

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