Contract is encouraging sign |

Contract is encouraging sign

It’s encouraging news that the teacher’s union and the school district were able to settle a contract for the 2001/02 school year, on their own, without a messy fact-finding session.

Hopefully now, both sides will be able to start the fall with a clean slate – ready to tackle some of the tough issues left unresolved by last year’s eleventh-hour agreement – and the district won’t see a repeat of this year’s bargaining disaster.

In order to avoid some of the frustrations of this year’s negotiations, it appears that several things are critical.

One, the district must hold to its commitment to show the teachers they are a priority by starting negotiations early and presenting a “best, last and final offer” by the end of November.

Two, increasing health costs should continue to be addressed, whether that means the district finding an alternative provider or the funds to supplement the rising out-of-pocket costs of their employees so that teachers aren’t forced to take a pay cut each year.

Granted, this was an usually rough year for the district, with the Governor’s unprecedented mid-year budget cuts for education, the collapse of California’s economy and the continued decline in student enrollment.

But asking teachers to work an entire school year without a contract and then offering them what appears to be budget leftovers is unacceptable.

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