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Dispute puts contract negotiations for APS teachers on hold

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Contract negotiations between Albuquerque Public Schools administration and the district’s teacher union broke off Friday after a dispute broke out between the union president and the superintendent.

Ellen Bernstein, Albuquerque Teachers Federation president, sent Superintendent Winston Brooks a letter Friday that accused him and APS Chief Finance Officer Don Moya of violating negotiation ground rules when they talked publicly about salary changes for employees next year.

“It’s a blatant disregard for the rules,” Bernstein told the Journal.

Brooks said he disagrees that any ground rules were broken, but said he called off the negotiations after reading Bernstein’s letter.

Brooks said he and Moya have said publicly that the district intends to raise salaries at least $2,000 for all teacher tier groups next year. He noted that the state required districts to raise salaries by $2,000 only for the lowest tier.

But in their public statements, Brooks said he and Moya didn’t say what salaries had been negotiated, just that they were looking to increase each tier by at least $2,000.

In New Mexico, there are three teacher tiers, based on education and experience, that dictate a teacher’s minimum salary.

Brooks said the salary increases are “well-deserved and overdue.” He added that he’s willing to speak with Bernstein about resuming negotiations.

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