FREMONT -- Fremont teachers and the school district will return to the bargaining table next week under the supervision of a state mediator, more than two weeks after teachers declared an impasse in stalled contract talks.
James Morris, superintendent of the Fremont Unified School District, said the first new negotiations are set for Tuesday and will be mediated by Seymour Kramer, who in recent years has mediated contract talks in the San Francisco, Alameda and Lodi districts.
"We believe that with the assistance of the mediator we will reach a resolution," Morris said. "We remain hopeful."
The Fremont Unified District Teachers Association, which represents more than 1,600 instructors, declared an impasse with the school district March 5, after nearly a year of bargaining. The teachers' contract expired June 30, 2012.
Representatives of the teachers association could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
At a protest March 13 at school district offices, teachers said the impasse occurred because their calls for smaller class sizes and increases in salaries and health benefits had gone unheeded.
Association president Brannin Dorsey said then that Fremont instructors are fed up after a half-decade of cuts in pay and benefits, as well as extra workloads because of bigger class sizes. "It's time to treat your employees with the same respect and dedication that we have showed you," Dorsey said at the protest.
But not for long, said Raul Parungao, assistant superintendent of business services. He said the school district expects to have an annual spending deficit of about $6 million for the next several years, which would decimate its reserves.
"In fiscal year 2014-2015, we will need to implement additional budget cuts just to balance that year's budget," Parungao said.
The mediator is an employee of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service -- an arm of the Public Employment Relations Board, which oversees collective bargaining laws for public school employees and other agencies.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.