Teachers union and Fresno Unified going into mediation as contract negotiations continue

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It might be the first day of summer for the Fresno Unified School District, but the hard work for the staff is just beginning. On Friday the Fresno Teachers Association and the school district failed to agree on a new contract with the teachers' union.

Now they will go into mediation-- a process which could take months.

"We put several proposals across the table and got very little movement on several of those." said Tish Rice, Fresno Teachers Association.

"It's felt at this point at the bargaining table that we're not moving forward or progressing toward one another," said Bob Nelson, Interim Superintendent.

Teachers said they need smaller class sizes, better pay, and stricter safety rules. Back in January at McLane High School an art teacher accused a student of assaulting him in class.

Dozens of teachers had already signed a petition at McLane, concerned about the lack of safety for students and staff. The FTA also said the district has enough in their reserve fund to meet their demands.

"Right now they're at $125-million, which is a record reserve for Fresno Unified. And so this is why we're so frustrated and struggling," said Jon Bath, FTA Bargaining Chair.

But Nelson said the large reserve fund is essential for the future of the district.

"If people remember 2008 it was not a good time for the district, and we don't, under any circumstances, want to go back."

The FTA said they are still a long ways off from even considering a strike and they are hoping it doesn't get to that point.
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