WCSD re-examines negotiating protocols

By BRIAN FERRY

bferry@timesobserver.com

There is some precedent for conducting collective bargaining in public.

While Warren County School District has not gone that far, it might be taking a step in that direction.

An update to the school board regarding negotiation with the teachers’ union is posted on the district website www.wcsdpa.org.

The update is a summary of the negotiating session of Feb. 27, from the board’s team to the board.

“The tone of the meeting was generally positive,” according to the summary. “Before exchanging formal proposals, each group explained its goals and expectations for the process.”

Then, the groups got down to business.

“As directed by the board, we proposed a three-year agreement, with raises of 2 percent per year,” according to the summary. “The teachers’ association has asked for a five-year agreement, and their salary demand is 1 to 2 percentage points higher than our offer in each year.”

With regard to health insurance, the board proposed keeping the “plan unchanged for the next school year, with some changes to the plan in later years in order to reduced the cost to the district.”

The union team “asked that health insurance remain unchanged for the entire term of the agreement, and they have asked for the addition of disability insurance,” according to the summary.

“Finally, we proposed some changes to language items that have limited administration’s ability to manage the staff as effectively as possible for the benefit of students,” the summary said. “The teachers’ association has also requested significant changes in how teachers are scheduled and how students are assigned to classes. Many of those changes would prove to be very difficult to implement or would restrict the board’s and administration’s ability to operate effectively.”

“Our team also discussed the school board’s intention to keep the public well informed,” according to the summary. “Because bargaining generally occurs behind closed doors and updates typically are not shared publicly, the board’s goal of transparency was the source of some discussion. Despite the teachers’ associations’ desire that the status of bargaining remain secret until a deal is reached, the teachers association is aware that reports like this one will be provided to the board and that the board will be making these reports public.”

The current contract expires on June 30.

The update is attached to item 2.1 on the agenda for the March meeting. That agenda can be found by clicking on the BoardDocs tab at the bottom of the main page.

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