Fargo School District and Teachers’ Union Headed to Mediation
The ongoing dispute between the Fargo School District and the Fargo Education Association is now headed to mediation. The announcement was made on June 5th that the president, CEO, and chairman of the board for Gate City Bank, Steve Swiontek will serve as the third and final member of the mediation team. The school board’s representative on the panel and the union’s lawyer all agreed to Swiontek’s addition to the team.
So far, there have been no mediation meetings scheduled between the two parties. They have been at an impasse since mid-May, when union negotiators declared an impasse and closed that day’s session.
The two other members of the mediation panel include a former school board member chosen in late May and a former North Dakota assistant attorney general who also served as special assistant attorney general for the state’s Department of Human Services.
Should mediation fail, the dispute will then be referred to the state education fact-finding commission and a fact-finder will be appointed to review the dispute. By law, administrators and teachers are no permitted to strike in North Dakota.
According to the union, classroom safety and salaries are the leading issues causing the impasse. Union reps claim safety has been an ongoing issue for several years.
There is a nearly $13 million in salary proposal difference for the two sides. The union has requested a pay increase that would also include Social Security and retirement contributions would cost taxpayers approximately $15 million over a two year period. The School Board’s offer would cost about $2 million during that same period of time.