WHILE CERTAIN District public school students are preparing to take advantage of summer classes starting next Monday, there is a serious question about what they will face come fall: The dispute between the city's teachers and the school borard is anything but settled-and isn't likely to be by then. Nevertheless, there are immediate steps that can be taken no avoid another grubby, destructive was between two parties who are supposed to be helping a third group-the city's students. Here's the situation as of now:
Under a court order, the teaches and the school board are presenting their concerns to a special fact-finding panel headed by James M. Harkless, a respected private arbitrator. These public session hav been lengthy, to the point where Superior Court Judge Gladys Kessler has extended the deadline for recommendations to July 20. These recommandation s, which are not binding, are to go to each side, as a suggested basis for the resumption of bargaining. If this process is to work at all, the panel should do two things by next month: (1) make distinctions between those issues that could or might be negotiated without offers of more money to the teachers-since the school board currently has no authority to negotiate salaries-and those that would has not authority to negotiate salaires-and those that would best await the board'sassumption of some money powers next year, and (2) recommend that the current contract be extended during further bargaining.
In addition, Judge Kessler should consider a formal afford the consequences of another unilateral termination of the contract. These steps are neither "pro-union" nor "pro-board seeks tighter monitoring of teachers' performances, and deserves public support in this effort. In turn, teachers seek assurances of fairness, incentives to improve their skills and effective provisions for monitoring students' progress. But until the board has the leverage that salary negotiations can provide, it is unrealistic to expect teachers to accept less than what previous boards agree to. Above all else, Washington's public school parents and students cannot afford another interruption of a school year.