Our View: Teachers, district must learn to work together
September 15, 2008
Less than a month ago local students headed back to the classroom for another academic year.
And despite all the important issues facing the school district this year” the ongoing effort to exit from ‘program improvement’ status and the quest to update aging facilities ” we find ourselves talking about a labor squabble between the school district and the teachers union that has dragged on for far too long.
The negotiations have gotten to a point where they have become hurtful to the students and the long-term health of local schools.
Imagine a school district where many parents, teachers administrators and school board members have become distrustfull of each other and publicly lash out at each other.
Whatever your opinion is on the current contract negotiations, there is enough blame to go around for the current stalemate that the district and the union finds themselves in.
The teachers union could have put an end to the negotiations by accepting a salary raise offer of 12 percent. Sure, the sizable raise covers two years (and should be seen as only a 3 percent raise for a year the teachers were working without a contract and a 9 percent raise for this year), but all things considered, the salary offer is far from inequitable.
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And the district can fault itself for being completely reactionary by leaving teachers without a contract for a year, and then offering them no raise at all for months on end.
The stubborn position of the board in spite of several years of ballooning property tax revenue engendered so much ill will that negotiations have now become publicly hostile.
None of this serves the interests of the school district’s education mission. And having a district that goes through this adversarial negotiation process nearly every year turns this into a continous, festering issue rather than a one-time black eye for our local schools.
But that’s all background at this point. The teachers should take the 12 percent raise offer, no matter how disgruntled they are about the way the district has handled negotiations, and move forward. The district should get credit for putting forward a fair salary offer.
And the district should work hard to ensure a multi-year teacher salary schedule is locked down during this negotiation cycle.
Because our school district should be focused on teaching students, not on a yearly bitter battle with the very people who work with our children day in and day out.
And then we can get back to the important education issues that face our schools.
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