Central School District 104 Board in O'Fallon and the teachers union both say they are negotiating in "good faith," but clearly neither side believes that the other side really is.
Both the board and the union are hedging their bets and readying themselves for a strike, just in case. They are following the steps laid out in law, but as Superintendent John Bute points out, it's complicated. The process is adversarial, and prone to hurt feelings and raw emotion.
How will all this affect contract negotiations? Will it help the people involved agree to terms, or will it make them want to dig in their heels and refuse to budge? And after a contract is reached, will both sides shake hands and move on, or will the bitter feelings permanently damage working relationships?
The board and the district have been negotiating since July, and teachers have been working without a contract since August.
The next mediation sessions are set for March 12 and 13. The process has dragged on too long already. The sooner a contract can be reached, the better the chance of limiting scars and long-term damage.