Medford teachers won't vote on contract till next week

Teachers won't vote on a tentative contract agreement with the Medford School District until next week, union officials said today.

"We want to make sure everyone has gone through it (the contract) and has time to ask questions so it will be an informed vote," said Lisa North, Medford Education Association spokeswoman and an elementary school instructional coach.

The MEA will distribute ballots Monday to union representatives from each school. Those representatives will pass the ballots out to teachers, who will seal their votes in confidential envelopes.

"Hopefully by the end of next week, we'll have a final count," North said.

A tentative agreement between the union and district was reached Friday after an 11-work-day strike. The contract was presented to the 600 members of the union Sunday.

According to the association's bylaws, members can have at least five days to review the contract before voting whether to ratify it.

District officials originally thought the union would decide on the contract in a meeting Thursday. But MEA President Cheryl Lashley said the association is following standard protocols.

"In the 17 years I have done this, there was only once that we held an all-member meeting to ratify a contract," she said.

The School Board members had planned to meet at noon Friday to vote on the contract and call off a state of emergency that's been in effect since Jan. 29. That meeting may be postponed until the union has finished voting, district officials said.

A state of emergency allows the board to be in continuous executive session, meaning it does not need to give the public 24-hour notice before holding a closed meeting. It also allows Superintendent Phil Long to expend funds and waive or suspend the district's educational policies and administrative regulations as needed when dealing with a strike.

— Teresa Thomas

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