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Mediator To Meet Today With Medford Educators

Oregon State mediators will meet separately with bargaining teams from the Medford School District and its teachers union this afternoon in the hopes of settling contract disputes before a Feb. 6 strike.

The Medford Education Association notified the district yesterday of its intent to strike in 10 days as required by law. The union's bargaining team walked away from negotiations Friday, saying the district was unwilling to budge on its latest contract offer.

The Mail Tribune reports that negotiations using mediators with the Oregon Employment Relations Board are set to begin at 1 p.m. today.

The teachers and the district have been negotiating for nearly a year and have yet to agree on several monetary issues, including compensation, pension contributions and early retirement benefits, as well as on teacher preparation time and the length of the contract.

Superintendent Phil Long said the district is fortunate that its bus and food services are contracted and, therefore, should continue as usual. Food service is particularly important at the elementary level, where there is a large number of students who depend on the federally subsidized meals offered at school.