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    LRSD teachers, district meet with mediator

    7:03 PM, Apr 27, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- After picketing Thursday and a day of negotiations Friday, Little Rock teachers say they hope an agreement will be made soon concerning their pay and benefits. They say they're fighting for not only their pay, but for a total of 3,800 employees of the Little Rock District.

    After nine months, the teachers say enough is enough. Cathy Koehler, Little Rock Education Association president says, "We are not trying to disrupt the day in and day out jobs that we do. We love our students. We care about them. "

    But Koehler says the more than 3,800 employees of the district have mouths to feed.

    Friday teachers negotiated with Little Rock School District moderators. Negotiating Chairperson Debbie Desjardin says, "We have been doing this for nine months like delivering a baby. We hope that baby comes today. So we can take back to our membership and something they can ratify for us."

    Also on the table, district employee benefits. Desjardin says, "Until January 1st it was completely paid for by the district. There was an increase in some of the state plans"

    Koehler say the increase in premiums has distressed not just teachers, but most district employees. She says, "Well, Little Rock School District has traditionally been the leader in the state of Arkansas at contributing to individual healthcare premiums."

    But not anymore say Koehler. Little Rock School District Spokesperson Pam Smith says, "What I can tell you is that unfortunately we cannot comment on specifics on the negotiations because of the ground rules that are in place, but the district is optimistic that a tentative agreement will be reached by both sides very soon."

    Koehler says they hope negotiations will end soon, but in the interim she says teachers and LRSD employees will continue to do what they love.

    We talked to Little Rock School District spokesperson Pam Smith just before 5 p.m. and she says the two sides had yet to come to an agreement.

    Keohler says to her knowledge, LRSD employees received a 1.25 increase last year. She says over the past year, they've received less than 5-percent in raises.

    Koehler says they will meet with the mediator and the district again Wednesday. The LREA will have a meeting Sunday at 2 p.m. at the AEA building to update members and discuss the direction they want to take.

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