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District, teachers remain split over pay as mediator steps in

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

INVERNESS -- A federal mediator shuttled back and forth Thursday between Citrus teachers' union representatives and administrators in an attempt to break the deadlock in contract negotiations, but the day ended without a settlement.

Conrad Bowling, a commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, opened the session by asking the parties to outline the outstanding issues. Then private caucuses began with each team.

Teachers declared an impasse in January because administrators continued to insist that the $1.7-million raise pool would have to pay for raises and improve salaries for those veteran teachers whose compensation has been restricted by a five-year experience cap.

Teachers have insisted that, since a budget study they commissioned turned up more than $2-million in possible budget padding, the district could find other money to fix salaries of teachers affected by the cap.

Ed Murphy and Pat Allen, the chief negotiators for the administration and the teachers respectively, declined to give details of the day's discussions. But each said the session went well.

"My team was pleased," Murphy said.

"We're hopeful," Allen said.

The teams meet again Wednesday for another session with the mediator.

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