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School District Remembers Strike

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EAGLE POINT, Ore. – While Medford teachers weigh the possibility of a strike, other districts are still feeling the side effects of a strike – for better or worse.

Teachers in the Eagle Point School District walked out a year and a half ago. They say they’re in a much better spot now, but it took them a long time to get there.

“People are gone, a lot of quality educators are gone in the prime of their career,” said Daniel Burdis, a consultant with the Oregon Education Association and lead negotiator for the teacher’s union during that strike. “There’s a real lack of trust.”

In the past two years the district saw roughly 30% turnover – the highest in Southern Oregon according to the OEA.

More than half of the Eagle Point Education Association’s executive council left in the wake of the strike.

And the community is still recovering.

“I had parents reaching out to me this summer because they were running into brick walls and trying to get their kids out of the district,” said Burdis.

But it wasn’t all bad.

This year the school board and teachers union were able to agree on a contract in two meetings. The president of the EPEA called the negotiations perfect. And administrators agree.

“The relationship between our administrators, our school board, and our teachers union is much stronger now,” said School District HR Director Allen Barber. “And that’s evidenced by the quick and efficient resolutions we had to our negotiations this time.”

Now the district won’t have to think about negotiating again for three and a half years.

The question is whether the strike was needed to get there.

“It’s what happened,” said Burdis. “I don’t know whether it was needed or not.”