Lead negotiators Dufault and Geist agree that talks are off to a positive start

    After the first negotiations session between the Crookston School Board’s negotiations committee and the teachers’ bargaining unit, the Crookston Education Association, on a new contract with the CEA, board chair Frank Fee said things were off to a “very good” start, and that he hoped a new deal could be worked out sooner rather than later.

    The second session appears to have gone just as well, and with a third negotiations session between the two on Wednesday, July 10, both sides are emanating positive vibes and hoping for a resolution that satisfies both parties.

    “The CEA’s negotiations team is committed to working towards a fair and equitable settlement in a timely fashion,” the CEA’s lead negotiator, Sara Geist, tells the Times. “We feel that the meetings with the board have been productive.”

    The CEA’s contract expired on June 30.

    Board member Tim Dufault, chair of the board’s negotiations committee, tells the Times that “things are moving along very well” and that he can sense in these particular negotiations that both board and CEA negotiators are interested more than anything else in improving the school district. “We are working together at trying to solve some issues,” Dufault explains. “This round of negotiations is more like everyone is on the same team working for the better of the whole district.

    “It is not so much just about pay,” he continues. “We have talked about retaining our students to the district, increased student success and weather affecting spring activities and student absenteeism. It is almost more of a brainstorming session than a negotiation session.”

    Dufault says both sides want a settlement reached as soon as possible. “I believe both sides want a shorter, more efficient negotiations this time,” he says. “We are both coming at it with that attitude.”