Teachers' contract article to be reopened

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another part of Marshall County teachers' contract with the school board is to be re-opened for negotiations, according to a decision by the board last month, despite an effort last week to reverse that plan.

The board's interest was sparked this spring when a teacher wasn't rehired and so the negotiating teams will look at Article 10, Section C-2 on renewing an untenured teacher's employment. Sections on pay and insurance are routinely re-examined.

A motion at the June 11 board meeting sought to rescind the motion to re-open Article 10-C-2 of the contract. Board member Mark Wilkerson said once a contract was finished, it was finished, and there was no obligation to tell the contractor (in this case, a teacher) why he or she wasn't being hired again. Wilkerson's motion was voted down five to three. Board member Todd Tietgens was absent. Wilkerson, Kristen Gold and chairwoman Ann Tears voted yes.

As a result, at the next day's negotiations, the Marshall County Education Association agreed to re-open Article 10-C-2 which, in part, says "Decisions regarding renewal shall not be grievable under this article."

"Do you have a proposal for us?" MCEA's Kathy Stapleton asked.

"No, just a motion from the school board," replied Stan Curtis, lead negotiator for the board.

"We don't want to open it if we're going to lose ground," Stapleton said.

"The board directs us to discuss discretionary powers," said Curtis.

Other members of the MCEA team filled in the background for Stapleton, who has been on a trip to visit family members in China. She heard how Misty Reese had addressed the board at their May meeting, seeking to know the reason she was not being re-hired for next year.

"She wanted a just cause as to why she wasn't re-hired," explained Louis Scheuchenzuber, another of the MCEA negotiators.

"Do you have the intention of putting up a proposal?" asked Stapleton.

"No," said Curtis, "There was no proposal given to us."

"This is the silliest thing I've ever heard!" exclaimed Stapleton.

"Do you want us to make a proposal?" asked Scheuchenzuber. The MCEA team then called for a caucus.

On their return, Stapleton said, "We have agreed to your request to open 10-C-2 as long as it deals specifically with non-tenured teachers. In return we ask you to open some articles that we wanted: involvement in professional development, retirement insurance, and deduction of association dues in January (instead of February)."

After another caucus, Curtis said the board didn't want to open any articles requested by MCEA, and couldn't afford to pay any more on retirement insurance.

"How many people would that involve, anyway?" Stapleton asked.

"I don't have a clue," replied budget director Janet Wiles.

"So you don't want to open any of ours?" queried Stapleton.

"Right," confirmed Curtis.

"We have proposals for you," Stapleton said. "These involve a two percent increase of salaries for teachers and supervisors. We're very aware of the economic times. We're living them also. When we saw positions added, we can see there is some money."

Negotiations resume at 4 p.m., June 30.