At this stage of a long and acrimonious struggle, the Boston school department and the public don’t need much from the Boston Teachers Union — just a reasonably priced contract that allows for a reliable way to evaluate teachers. State labor officials advanced that goal this week by agreeing to appoint a “fact finder’’ with greater power than a mediator to resolve this labor dispute, in which there’s been little progress since the last contract expired two years ago. But even with the involvement of the fact finder, Boston can’t expect smooth sailing now.
Both sides soon will be asked to make their final proposals to the fact finder. The best case scenario is that the fact finder will agree with the school department’s view that unsatisfactory teachers who don’t respond to an improvement plan can be dismissed after 30 days. In exchange for this and other reforms, the fact-finder could recommend a reasonable wage increase for teachers, on the order of 14 or 15 percent over the life of a six-year contract.