|Welcome back to the remainder of the school year and a
new century. If you are at all like me you have probably heard enough about the new
millennium to last you about another one thousand years, so I'll just give you an update
on what has been happening and what we are planning for the next few months.
Let's start with negotiations. We had our last mediation session December 14. The entire
session was devoted to ways to structure our severance plan to avoid the pitfalls of
constructive receipt. Jim Melander and Kent Schutte (from Education Minnesota) presented a
plan which we felt would both meet our needs relative to the entire membership and be
revenue neutral. The district requested additional time to study the proposal. They will
respond at the next mediation session which is scheduled for January 6. An attempt will be
made by both parties to deal with ill of the issues and reach a settlement during this
session. The deadline for.a settlement is Tuesday January 18. 1. Should a settlement
not be reached, the school district could lose about $300,000 in state funding. Of course
they appear to have close to $20,000,000 in reserves, so the penalty would not be a major
problem. Still, it would be preferable to settle ahead of the deadline. If we ire not
successful, it will become necessary to -onsider all of our options. I would expect that
we would schedule a general membership meeting to discuss a strike vote. We still have the
signs from last time.
As of December 15, about one hundred districts had settled. The average settlement per
school is 3.65% in year one and 3.7% in year two on schedule. When the average is weighted
(to consider that some districts have more teachers) the averages are 4.18% and 3.76%.
Again this is actual improvement in salary schedule. Our own school district has offered
2% and 2%. We would expect that they would be a bit more generous on January 6.
the end of January the Sick Leave Bank Committee will be meeting to discuss usage of the
bank and the need to replenish it. Human Resources is telling us that the bank is running
at a deficit and we need a donation of two days per member. I would hope that the
situation will prove to be less dire. We are requesting that the school district provide a
breakdown on use of sick leave and use of the sick leave bank. As well, we have asked the
legal staff of Education Minnesota to do some research on possible limitations of usage.
It is well to remember that when one goes into the sick leave bank that the cost is paid
by other members. These are not free days but are provided by donation of days by the
membership. This consideration is particularly important when one remembers the cost to
members who are about to retire with fewer than 180 days of accumulated sick leave. Each
day they donate costs $250 to $300 which is deducted from their severance. Perhaps it
would be possible to not take days from those about to retire. The D.F.T. representatives
on the Sick Leave Bank Committee are ***l, *** and ***.
We will update members on the work of both the negotiating team and the Sick Leave Bank
Committee as soon as there is something to report.
A mediation session was held Thursday, January 6. During this session there was further
discussion of all of the issues including salary. Little progress was made and a follow-up
session was scheduled for Monday, January 10 with another possible if needed. We are still
optimistic that we will be able to reach a settlement prior to the deadline and are
hopeful that the district shares in this optimism. A full analysis of the situation will
be given at the general membership meeting on Thursday, January 13, 4:15 p.m. in Woodland
||Except for the outrageously
inaccurate claim that ISD 709 is swimming in money this is a remarkably mild newsletter.
Unfortunately, this claim will lull our teachers into lockstep with their misguided union
leadership. The young teachers who get laid off in the next few years have been betrayed.
Any teacher who wants to avoid program cuts and increased class sizes has not been
represented at this negotiation. The simple fact is that the school district is limited by
the complicated formula's created by the state legislature. I would like to pay our
teachers more. We can't do it until the law changes except by canibalizing our own staff.
1. The penalty is small. It equals the salary of 3 and a
half senior teachers over two years. Frank continues to talk about the reserve as though
it was the fountain of youth when its not much more than a tub of cold cream. When we cut
4 or 5 million dollars from our budget Frank should get the blame.