MURPHYSBORO, IL — Negotiators with Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186 and the Murphysboro Education Association were again unable to reach an agreement over teacher salaries Tuesday. 

Teams from the school board and the union met yet again Tuesday, and the teams yet again walked away from the mediation session without a deal. 

In a statement released Tuesday night, MEA Chief Negotiator Catlin Langellier said the union has cut its original contract proposal in half, but implied the board is unwilling to meet the union in the middle. Langellier said "We are 0.65 percent away from the true middle.  However, the board remains 2.45 percent away from the true middle of their proposals."

In its own news releases after the evening's failed negotiations, the school board characterized the offer it made the board as generous, and said it "is meeting exactly in the middle from the last two offers exchanged." The release said the school board suggested bringing in an independent fact finder or to settle the contract issue through arbitration. If the teachers agreed to arbitration, both parties would have to accept whatever amount the independent arbitrator recommended. 

Regarding that suggestion, Langellier said: "Tonight the board suggested we enter binding arbitration, which is, in the field of education, an antiquated bargaining tactic designed to silence the voice of educators. The voice that we use to advocate for our students, our schools and our community. It would mean an outside person would be able to decide what’s best for our community. A community he or she has no ties to and will leave after a contract is enforced."

The teachers and the school board are scheduled to meet again for their next mediation session Wednesday at 5 p.m.