The Pendleton School Board rejected a $340,000 concessions package from the teachers’ association Tuesday morning that would have cut four days, including two student-contact days.

As part of the package, the Pendleton?Association of Teachers also offered up their 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment for next year.

Despite desperately needing the concessions to help balance the 2011-12 budget, the board unanimously voted to continue negotiations in the hopes that the two student-contact days will be exchanged for other days.

“It’s a tough position for the district,” said Jon Peterson, district superintendent. “It’s a tough position for our employees to be in once again where ultimately the decision comes down to larger class sizes and fewer employees, or cutting days and cutting employee wages.”

The teachers’ association suggested that the district cut Sept. 12 and 13, which are the Monday and?Tuesday of Round-Up week.

While the elementary school and Sunridge Middle School could lose two days, Pendleton High?School is already at the state’s minimum requirement for student-contact days.

“(We need) to reach the state requirement to educate our children by the standards,” said board member Debbie McBee. “As a school board, we’re trying to keep in place everything from textbooks to curriculum happening in the classroom.”

Parents in the district have made clear cutting more student-contact days is not acceptable on the heels of the district losing 13 days a year ago, but Oregon Education Association consultant Dave Fiore said there is still plenty of room for negotiation.

“We’re going to have to go back to the teachers and see if they’d be willing to give up two other days,” said Fiore, adding that he estimated each teacher was sacrificing around $1,750 in concessions. “I think there has to be a discussion of calendar and I think folks have to look at how meaningful each day is within our calendar.”

Fiore said there is a general feeling among teachers that if they get paid less, they should be working fewer days.

“If you cut only holidays, teachers are going to work just as much as they always have and donate about $1,800 of their pay,” Fiore said. “The group doesn’t see that as being all that fair and would like some of that work to come off the table.”

While Peterson continues to negotiate with teachers, Michelle Jones, the director of business services, must continue to work on next year’s budget and will come up with two scenarios — one factoring in the $340,000 in concessions and a doomsday scenario that cuts that same amount.

Jones could not describe exactly what the budget, already facing a $2 million cut due to the state’s budget crisis, will look like when finished.

“I’ll just say that it’s important to have that concession,”?Jones said. “Whether we have it or not, we have to balance a budget and move forward.”

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