Following months of unsuccessful negotiations with administrators and board members from the Park City School District, the Park City Education Association (PCEA) announced late Tuesday night plans at file an impasse to the Utah State Office of Education.
The letter from the local teachers union, which board members anticipate will be officially filed by the end of the week, calls for an impartial party to join discussions on teacher contracts for the school district, determining everything from teacher compensation to benefits.
"The teachers association notified us they intend to declare an impasse," said Mo Hickey, the Park City Board of Education President. "Once we receive it in the next day or so, the process will start taking place. We will need to identify a mediator, one both sides agree on and will reach some resolution.
"If that doesn't work, we will take the process to a hearing officer, something we can hopefully avoid."
According to state statute, one party in the negotiations process declares an impasse and is provided a list of third party mediators from the Utah State Office of Education is provided. From there, the two parties will have 15 days to reach a decision. Then, the two parties will request a hearing officer.
"It's a process used throughout the nation when the negotiation process gets stuck," said PCEA Co-President Ed Mulick. "It is the next logical step."
"There is a timeline for resolution here," he added, "and it's something we are going through together."
Negotiations first started last April, but an impasse could be filed after 90 days into the process, which would have been before the school year started in August. The negotiation process has been slowed by teacher and administration efforts to lengthen the contract from one year to three years. With the added time frame, both administrators and teachers are looking at big picture issues.
"I'm always optimistic we can come to agreement," Hickey said. "There are philosophical differences. We are trying to do something more complex, this multiple-year agreement it does take time."