Teacher talks on hold

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Negotiations on next year's contract between the Marshall County Education Association, representing the teachers, and the Board of Education are delayed until next month.

Most of the school board members were at a work session Monday night, and budget director Janet Wiles took the opportunity to report on her conversations with the school system's attorney, Chuck Cagle. Cagle advised her that the full school board had to decide on the makeup of their negotiating team following the resignation of lead negotiator Craig Michael.

Since the next board meeting is not until May 21, and they want to get negotiations going again as soon as possible, the group decided to hold a special called meeting of the school board at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 30.

Wiles explained that within two months of the start of every fiscal year, the board of education has to designate management personnel from whom a negotiating team can be chosen. The management personnel have to be system-wide employees, who do not have negotiated contracts, and the number of designated personnel is determined by the number of students in the system. The current five-person group is composed of Stan Curtis, Roy Dukes, Mitchell Byrd, Lyn Stacey, and Wiles.

Byrd and Wiles have been on the negotiating team with Michael. Now the board has the option of putting another person from the five designated management personnel on the negotiating team, or choosing a board member to join the team.

The board also has the option to leave the negotiating team at two members, Byrd and Wiles. They are not obliged to designate a "chief negotiator," either.

In other business, Curtis told board members that the Siemens energy audit was finished, and that the system was looking at a potential $325,000 per year in savings after making the changes Siemens recommends.

"Hopefully we can pay for it (the energy-saving modifications) through grants," said Wiles. "There's lots of stimulus money out there."

The rest of the two-hour work session was devoted to discussing the school board's goals for the Marshall County school system. The following goals will be presented to the school board for approval at their next regular meeting.

1) Establish a competitive advantage for school system by a) increasing participation in the Career Technical Education program; b) improving academic standards of all subgroups; c) focusing on interventions at the K-4 grade levels; d) putting Marshall County schools in the top 10 percent of the state academically.

2) Have a 21st century curriculum and learning facilities; maximize utilization of space.

3) Establish and maintain fiscal responsibility, efficiency and accountability.

"You all want what I want: a great district," said Curtis. "We've got an opportunity to be a phenomenal district," he continued. "We do have pockets of excellence, and we need to replicate those."

The Board of Education's sign will now include the mission statement agreed at an earlier meeting: "Investing in the future by maximizing the potential of all students."