- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - Teachers in the Medford School District have gone back to their classrooms after a strike.

Classes resumed Monday after the strike that began Feb. 6 was settled with agreement on a three-year contract.

A contract-ratification vote by the union is to be held as soon as Thursday, the Medford Mail Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1h64Wfz ), with a vote by the school board to follow.

“I am really confident that things are going to work out,” Medford School District board member Sally Killen said. “I am absolutely confident that this is a doable contract that nobody is 100 percent satisfied with but everybody can live with.”

The deal was announced Friday night. Teachers went back to their classrooms on Sunday afternoon to get organized and draw up lesson plans.

“My focus is to have the learning be amazing,” South Medford High School teacher Steve Johnson said. “I think teachers will appreciate their students more, and I think students will appreciate their teachers more.”

On Sunday night, union leaders briefed members on the contract.

Among the provisions was an agreement on the early retirement benefit, which the school district said it couldn’t afford if all the eligible teachers took advantage of it.

The union agreed to phase out the current benefit, with teachers who retire this year and next able to stay on the system’s health insurance plan until they are eligible for Medicare. Teachers who qualify for early retirement later will be paid $2,000 for each year worked for the district, up to $56,000.

During the strike, student attendance dropped from 68 percent on the first day to a low of 44 percent on Friday.

Some students said they were more than ready to see their teachers in the classroom, such as 17-year-old Dominik Torres, a senior who chose to be in class during the strike.

“It was either go to school, or we could do nothing all day - and nothing got boring,” he said.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/