The nine-month contract dispute between Burbank teachers and the school district will be submitted to a fact-finding panel.
The two sides agreed to that course of action after failing to come to an agreement Thursday during a mediation session. State Mediator Doug Thompson told the two sides that he would submit the fact-finding request to the state Public Employment Relations Board next week for formal certification.
The fact-finding process, which calls for representatives from the teachers and the district to submit their positions to a three-member panel, is expected to take two months, officials said. Although the panel will make a recommendation to the two sides based on its findings, the recommendation is not binding.
At issue are salary increases for the final year of a three-year contract.
The Burbank Teachers Assn. has been seeking an across-the-board salary raise of 5.5%, plus a one-time bonus of 3.5% of teachers' annual salaries. The bonus would be paid out of the district's share of California Lottery money. The district has offered an across-the-board salary increase of 3% and a one-time bonus payment of 3.5%.
Maureen Doyle, president of the teachers' association, said she was pleased that the dispute is being submitted to the state panel, but added that the action was long overdue.
"This could have been done months ago, even two weeks ago when we first asked for fact-finding in one of our sessions," Doyle said. "The district has never been in a settlement mode."
District Supt. Wayne Boulding said the district had favored settlement over fact-finding. "We believed from the beginning that it would be better to reach a settlement at the bargaining table than to go to fact-finding," Boulding said. "But, when we saw there was no progress at the table, we felt that going to fact-finding would be in our best interest."
In March, teachers rejected one of the district's earlier offers in a strike vote, but did not stage a walkout or slowdown. The contract expires June 30.