Negotiators have been unable to agree on a tentative agreement.
KASB attorney David Shriver served as the lead negotiator for the Board of Education. Following a negotiating session Tuesday Shriver talked with JC Post. “Because of some electronic communication from the Association’s membership we felt that the progress of the Board’s offer was being undermined, and we wanted some clarification at the beginning of today’s meeting to see if there was the possibility of movement toward ratification of the Board’s salary offer. ”
That salary offer included an average teacher salary increase of 6.5 percent.
Dr. Corbin Witt explained in return the Board wanted to increase the duty day to an eight-hour duty from the current seven-hours-and-50 minutes. He that latter time frame does not include the 30 or 40-minute duty free lunch for teachers. “But going to a consistent eight-hour duty day, increasing collaborative time at the elementary level, going through and removing some people….SLP’s, Pt’s, Psych, Social Workers from the salary schedule because we’re not competitive. ” Witt added to hire those personnel with advanced levels of degrees USD 475 needs to be able to pay them more, noting the district is short in those areas.”
Witt noted another condition would be to have meetings start after the duty day instead of after children are dismissed from school. “Because it was impossible for us to get a meeting when we said it started the minute kids were dismissed. We all know that we have to get the kids out of the building.”
Cathy Rankin, Junction City Education Association President, also talked with JC Post. “We’re very disappointed that the Board decided to file for unilateral impasse. We came here today ( Tuesday ) prepared to work and negotiate long into the night if needed be.” Rankin added they hope a mediator can help reach compromises which will work for both sides.
On the offer by the Board to the JCEA Rankin noted, “We were disappointed that they didn’t value the work the teachers do outside the classroom enough to offer the raise without the conditions.” And she added, “We’re very concerned about the amount of preparation time that our elementary teachers have. They have less than any other set of teachers, and although we value collaboration time and we think it’s very important the District is asking them to trade off their individual prep time to prepare for their students in exchange for that collaboration.” Rankin stated collaboration is something teachers do anyway.
Shriver made the unilateral declaration on behalf of the Board of Education to go to impasse. He indicated the next step will be to notify state officials, and they will then notify the Federal Mediation and Conciliation services who will send in a mediator. Both negotiating teams will meet with that person. If mediation is unsuccessful the process goes to fact finding where both sides present formal evidence and testimony to convince the fact finder on the accuracy of their position. Once the fact finder recommendation is issued the two teams would have seven days to meet again for another negotiating session. If that fails, at that point the Board can issue unilateral terms and conditions of employment.
For now, teachers in USD 475 will work under the contract that has existed during the past year.