members participated in the demonstration.
"We have decided that, until the contract is settled, we would
wear black on Tuesdays as a way of showing our depression," Fink
The decision to dress in black was because it was a visible way to
show the teachers' displeasure and demonstrating unity, without
upsetting classroom instruction, Fink said.
The negotiating teams are scheduled to meet again Monday. Both
sides have been negotiating terms of a three-year contract since May
2003. District officials accepted a union proposal to be flexible
about how teachers use personal days, but negotiations have stalled
when it comes to requests for pay increases, Fink said.
The union is fighting for the 2.41% cost-of-living increase the
district received from the state this year, an amount that equals
about $3.2 million. But the district is reluctant to approve pay
hikes because of the lean fiscal climate. After cutting $6 million
from its 2003-04 budget, then another $8 million from this year's
budget, officials say they will face a $7-million deficit within
three years if the district receives no new income from the state.
All five school board members have received several e-mails from
teachers concerned about the progress of negotiations, but board Vice
President Mary Boger believes that the dispute will be settled by
"I think the board has a history of dealing in a fair manner with
all our employees. I think the best thing the board can do for its
staff and students and the community is to act in a fiscally
responsible manner," Boger said.