York teachers Sue Parshley, Nancy Lindbom and Zack Daniels demonstrate outside the polls on Election Day. The teachers in York have been working on the terms of an expired contract since Aug. 31. Credit: Deborah McDermott | The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — A second, marathon mediation session lasting six hours brought the York Teachers Association and the School Committee close to an agreement over terms of a new contract. But teachers remain working under terms of a contract that expired Aug. 31.

Both sides met recently in a session that was scheduled to last four hours, but ended up lasting six hours, said Superintendent Lou Goscinski. By the end, he said, he felt confident that terms of a contract could be ironed out as soon as this week. Both the YTA and School Committee would then have to ratify it.

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“We’ve stepped from the summit,” he said. “It’s been a long journey. There’s a true commitment from both sides, who are motivated to get this done. In principle, all items on the table appear to be resolved.”

YTA president William True was not quite as sanguine, but did say that “the parties made good progress toward reaching an agreement for a successor contract. But there are still a few issues that need to be resolved.”

Goscinski agreed that a couple of issues “around language need to be hashed out.” He said the mediator is meeting this week with the Maine Education Association negotiator for the teachers and the attorney for the School Committee to work out final details. But if that meeting is successful, he feels confident that a ratified contract could be forthcoming in less than a month.

[Teacher morale ‘very low’ as contract impasse drags on, union leader says]

The YTA members will first have to agree to the terms, he said, as the mediation sessions involve only union leadership. “We need to give the teachers some time to process it,” said Goscinski. In the best of all possible worlds, that could happen within the next several weeks, and the School Committee could ratify the contract in early December.

The mediation session came two days after teachers stood in the front of the York High School gym, which acts as York’s polling place, on the evening of Election Day. Despite the rain, about 150 teachers attended. True said at the time, “We love the kids in this community and we’re looking to be treated fairly with a new contract.”

Goscinski said both sides are motivated to come up with a contract, and that manifested itself in the mediation session last week.

“There was a lot of give and take, a lot of compromise, and I believe in the end it will be something everyone can live with,” he said.