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LCPS, teachers union likely headed for mediation as contract talks reach impasse

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Las Cruces Public Schools management on Tuesday evening submitted their last best offer to the educators' union as teachers demand more pay, according to the union president.

The National Education Association in Las Cruces now has the option of either accepting the offer or returning to the bargaining table with the help of federal mediation.

"We are shocked, frankly, that the district chose to make its last best final offer via email at 6:33 p.m. while we were speaking at the school board meeting," wrote Denise Sheehan, the president of the National Education Association of Las Cruces. "We believe that anyone looking at the district's very healthy finances will see that the 4.5% increase... is readily doable."

"Las Cruces Public Schools had no choice but to step back from the bargaining table," said Gabe Jacquez, deputy superintendent of operations for LCPS. "We have not given up on this process.  We have issued our last best offer and we are hopeful that both of our union partners will see the value of the long-term goals it represents."

Sheehan could not state whether her bargaining team would accept the district's offer. If the union chooses not to accept it, both sides will have 30 days with a mediator.

"We believe that the district’s last best offer provides a better form of compensation for employees by providing both immediate increases and setting the fiscal foundation for sustainability of long-term growth," Jacquez said.

Sheehan told ABC-7 that teachers are burned out by the pandemic workload and low pay. A district spokeswoman confirmed there are 25 staff vacancies throughout the district.

"It is a non-stop job," said Lisa Weinbaum, a Centennial High teacher with more than three decades of teaching experience. "We are always rushing, rushing, rushing from one thing to the next."

Weinbaum told ABC-7 that in her 22-year-old daughter's first job as a working professional, she makes $10,000 more than her mother.

"She does deserve what she's being paid, but so do teachers," Weinbaum said.

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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