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Secondary education

FARMER CITY — The two sides negotiating a new contract for 110 Blue Ridge teachers and staff reported progress in a Wednesday night negotiating session with a federal mediator, but other key issues still remain unresolved and the union plans to file an intent to strike notice.

“Agreements were reached on paid retirement and teacher evaluations,” said Blue Ridge Superintendent Susan Wilson in a statement. “Progress was made as both sides made offers on salary and health insurance.”

But Blue Ridge Federation President Don Anton said that is where more work needs to be done.

“We are still far apart on the issues of salary and health insurance,” he said in a statement released Wednesday night.

Anton said the federation made two moves on salary and the district countered with one offer, but did not respond to the union’s latest proposal.

The union returned with a counter proposal of a three year deal with raises of 3.9 percent the first year, 3.95 percent the second year, and 4.15 percent in the final year, Anton said.

“We were hoping to keep discussions moving tonight,” he said. “We were making headway and then the board decided to end the session.”

The two sides are scheduled to meet again Oct. 21.

"The board remains committed to negotiating a fair contract with the union that hears their concerns and those of the community, while also weighing the financial well-beinig of the district for years to come," Wilson said.

The union includes teachers, drivers, cooks, custodians, secretaries, nurses and library clerks. The district includes the communities of Farmer City, Mansfield and Bellflower.

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Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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