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Columbia teachers’ union wants teacher contract negotiations to continue

The Columbia Missouri National Education Association, or teachers’ union, met Tuesday night to present a counter proposal to the Columbia school district’s final proposal on teacher contract negotiations.

But half the seats at the table were empty, as the district team was absent.

The teachers’ union is asking for approximately $6.6 million in pay increases to make up for the remaining frozen salary step. The steps were frozen because of financial shortages.

But the district said the demand for pay increases comes at a time when it’s seeing increased expenses because of growth.

“We’re growing between 125 and 200 students per year,” said Dana Clippard, CPS Deputy Superintendent. “There is a $7,400 difference between what the state funds us to do per pupil and what we spend per pupil.”

But the union said the increase is necessary to keep high quality educators working in the district and that’s what they want the district to understand. They also said they want the negotiation talks to continue.

“We’re the largest employee group that they have and we know it’s important to our school board and we’re looking forward to them directing their district team to do so,” said Susan McClintick, President of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association.

The district has proposed some increases in their last offer to the union.

“At this time, we’ve made an offer to them that moves everyone on the teacher salary schedule, unless they’re in those minimum beginning stages or they’re at the very bottom,” Clippard said.

The district and the union have also agreed to have paid personal days rolled over, which means teachers can use five personal days, but not take them consecutively.

The union said it’s disappointed no one from the district showed up to Tuesday night’s meeting.

But the district said they already explained why they would not be there.

“We returned from March 18 and we basically answered the same questions and got provided the same answers, so at that time, we informed them we would not be back at the table,” Clippard said.

The district said the union can still reject the district offer and submit a counter offer to the Board of Education.

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