AZTEC — After nearly 17 months and a complaint filed to the labor board, Aztec school board members approved a collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union Tuesday night.

During the Board of Education meeting, board members approved the new agreement between Aztec Municipal Schools and the Aztec Education Association.

Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said the last agreement was approved on Sept. 8, 2011, and the protracted negotiations were a result of the complaint filed by the school district against the teachers' union.

"(Negotiations) regressed in nature into something not moving forward," Carpenter said.

The school district filed a complaint on Sept. 13, 2012, with the Labor Management Relations Board. The board ruled that the teachers' union failed to negotiate in good faith with the district.

The labor board said the teachers' union had failed to follow rules agreed upon by both parties before negotiations and submitted proposals in conflict with state statues and the New Mexico Constitution.

Member Wayne Ritter asked Carpenter if the ratification by the teachers' union was passed unanimously. Carpenter said it was unanimous.

Vice President Roger Collins thanked everyone for coming to an agreement.

"I would just like to thank both sides for the work put into this," Collins said. "I'm sure it was very intense and at times not so fun."

The district had been operating off the previous agreement for the 2011-2012 school year until this agreement was passed. Carpenter said only minor changes were made, mostly on language.

"Anytime you get into a collective bargaining agreement, you go out and bargain and somethings you can't change," Carpenter said. "Nothing really substantial is different than what we had last year."

Carpenter cited one example listed in the agreement under association rights as a change. The teachers's union requested a line in regards to installing additional bulletin boards in sites with multiple lounges. Previously only one bulletin board was installed per site.

In a copy of the agreement provided to the Daily Times, Article 10 about "reduction in force" has the most changes.

If a reduction in force is initiated, according to the agreement, the superintendent should determine an expected date for the action and "identify the options that have been considered to preserve academic programs."

The agreement also has language encouraging the use of teacher input in decision making.