OGDEN -- Every Ogden School District teacher except one has signed the new contract written by the district's Board of Education.
The one holdout was an inactive teacher, on leave during the past school year, who decided not to return.
"We have such great teachers, and we wanted them all back," said Brenda Ruffier, human resources director for the district.
"I am so thankful they are returning. I am thrilled to have them all back."
In early July, the district sent out letters to 668 teachers, telling them they had to return the new contracts, signed, if they wanted to continue in their jobs when school resumes Aug. 24.
After lengthy, nonproductive negotiations with the Ogden Education Association, school board members put together their own contract with the ultimatum that teachers who did not sign by July 20 would be replaced.
As of Tuesday night, 491 contracts had been signed and returned. On Wednesday morning, OEA President Doug Stephens turned in another 140 signed contracts from OEA members.
Additional contracts trickled in, and 11 teachers contacted the district to say they intended to sign the contracts but were currently out of state or out of the country.
Ruffier made additional efforts Wednesday to contact three remaining teachers, and the final number of contracts returned or otherwise confirmed was 667.
Teachers and the OEA protested the Ogden School Board's rejection of collective bargaining with the OEA, the non-negotiated new contract and the signing ultimatum with a July 14 rally attended by an estimated 650 people; with letters to the board; and with petitions signed by approximately 2,000 teachers and their supporters.
Also troubling to teachers is the fact that about 100 small changes were included in the new contract. The new contract requires a longer working day and limits the system of resolving teacher grievances, among other things.
Ruffier said more teachers than average are hanging onto their jobs this year. In a typical year, the district fills about 75 openings, she said. This year, it has had only 40 positions to fill; only a few remain open.
"It's a tough time for everybody," Ruffier said. "We are thrilled to have them back."
Kory Holdaway, Utah Education Association government affairs director, said the fight is not over.
"We are looking at this as a first step in terms of challenges to teachers and the quality of education in our schools," he said.
"I think the teachers in Ogden have studied this issue, and they are hopeful the school board is sincere in coming back and re-engaging, as they said they would, as far as negotiations go. As this continues to move on, I hope Ogden will realize that teachers are going to be part of the solution."