Longtime Harlem school district educator Lynn Kearney has seen her fair share of teacher losses, and is hopeful a new contract won't continue the downward trend.
"We have seen too much get cut, it's difficult to maintain what we have lost," Kearney said.
Like other area school districts, a negotiating stickler remains wages, and health benefits. Board president Sandy Johnson says for the district to have long-term financial health, the teachers have to stabilize the rising costs.
"Health care is out of control, and we have to see some changes or else we are going to continue to have these discussions inside," Johnson said.
Both sides will meet with a federal mediator Friday morning, and are hopeful difficult discussions can somehow find compromise, as the August 14 contract expiration looms.
"We are hopeful both sides can come together and find the ways to work it out. Nine days can be enough," Kearney said.
"It's too early to tell whether any further stalled negotiations would result in the first teachers strike since 1989, an outcome both sides can agree would hurt the kids. "No side wins with a strike. For the kids’ sake, we don't want one day of a strike," Johnson said.
And as the clock ticks, a mediator will try to work things out, and have the district ready for school, not negotiations.