There will no doubt be a lot of people who read this letter who will think that I have lost my mind. In the past I have often referred to teacher matters in an un-complimentary manner. Well now things have come full circle and it time to look at the other side of the picture.
As we all know, economic times are not good and it doesn't appear that they will get any better in the near future. Our state is in deep financial trouble and because of that, the local school district doesn't always get the funding that they should be getting.
Our teachers are now engaged in contract talks with the school board regarding a new two-year contract. Contracts usually run for two years from July 1 to June 30 two years later. In the past two year contract that expired on June 30, 2009, the teachers were asked to take a pay freeze because the district was short of money. Then, in a very benevolent gesture, the teachers gave back to the district, $100,000 of training money that the district is required by law to set aside for teacher training. The teachers gave this money back of their own free will. The teachers were also promised that when the referendum was passed and the next contract date came up, then the teachers would be rewarded for their help in keeping the district afloat financially.
Well, time has passed and the new contract should have been in place by July 1, 2009 but there still isn't any contract. It should be obvious to just about everyone that there is no money for raises for the teachers so they are being asked to take a pay freeze for another two years. It is my understanding that the teachers will go along with this because they understand the troubled financial times that we are facing.
However, the school board and the superintendent are now willing to let it stop there. It is my understanding that the superintendent is also trying to take away vacation days, sick leave days and what ever else he can take away because the teachers are between a rock and a hard place. These teachers were promised rewards if they would just go along and help out the board in a time of great difficulty. The teachers stepped up to the plate and put the school before their own interests, and now look at how the board and superintendent show their appreciation. I think that it can probably be accepted that there isn't any money for raises in this tight economy, but how can anyone justify taking away vacation, sick leave, or anything else. Is the superintendent, office staff, or any other non-union employee of the district being asked to give up similar days and have none of these people not had substantial raises during that two years contract period? Would somebody please enlighten me if I am wrong?
Teachers, you are being done wrong! The only way you can ever change anything is if you accept the fact that the citizens of the district are not your enemy. They only want to be treated as humans, be given a chance to express their opinions, and be recognized as having a vested interest in this school district. Good luck in your negations.