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updated: 11/28/2012 2:31 PM

Mediator called in to Barrington District 220 contract talks

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Closed-door contract negotiations between Barrington District 220's teachers and the board of education Tuesday night ended with a request for help from a federal mediator.

A statement sent out electronically by the board of education after the meeting read:

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"At the conclusion of a bargaining session on Nov. 27, the Barrington Education Association announced it would request assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Nov. 28. This means an independent, third-party resource will now be involved at no cost to clarify final interests before reaching an agreement. The Board of Education will join in this request and looks forward to reaching a settlement soon.

"This voluntary action will provide a neutral mediator to conduct meetings and coordinate discussions in the final stage of this important endeavor. Most importantly, the assistance intends to secure an agreement in the best interest of students, staff and community stakeholders."

Contract negotiations began in the spring and picked up in intensity the last few weeks.

In October, the Barrington Education Association, which represents the majority of the district's 750 teachers, voted to authorize a strike. The board of education hopes to avoid what would be the first work stoppage in 30 years. Barrington teachers last went on strike in 1980.

The district's last contract negotiations in 2009 also required a federal mediator and those negotiations ended without a strike, District 220 spokesman Jeff Arnett said.

"It's part of the process, and it's not unlike what occurs in many other school districts similar to ours," Arnett said. "Just as they did in 2009, they've requested assistance from a mediator. If you look at the outcome from that, it was very positive."

The previous three-year contract expired Aug. 31.

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