By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
With standing room only in the Education Service Center Monday evening, teachers were present in hopes of hearing firsthand that an agreement was finally reached regarding their 2010-11 contract. With board members Stacy Johnson and Nick Hatcher absent, five board members were left to vote on the issue. With only three voting to approve the contract, the motion to approve the teacher’s contract failed – it required a quorum of four approving to pass.
USD No. 480’s Board of Education President Reid Petty read aloud the terms of the contract contained in a letter from the LNEA negotiating team.
The offer is quoted as follows:
o We will accept the board’s offer under Option B with $500,000 added to the insurance pool;
o We will accept the board’s offer under Option A with $200 added to the base salary on the current indexed salary schedule;
o We will accept the board’s offer to fund steps and increments on the salary schedule;
o Health insurance deductibles will be decided by a majority vote of the bargaining unit; and
o We will not agree to any changes to the current school calendar and will not accept any additional days added to the contract.
Petty made a motion to pass the 2010-11 teacher contract from LNEA. Vice president Tammy Sutherland Abbott gave the motion a second.
Petty felt it important to stop the back and forth banter between the board and LNEA in an effort to get back to the primary objective at hand – teaching the students.
“I know some may see this as caving in, but I really think it is in the best interest of the district to get this passed and to move on. The teachers are the most important ingredient. I think we just need to move on even if we would be considered to be caving in at this point.
Sutherland-Abbott agreed. She also suggested different negotiating teams for both sides next year.
“I also would like to see two new teams from both sides with different representation next year,” Sutherland-Abbott said. “This has drug out way too long. You guys have had to deal with this when you should be 100 percent focused on teaching. That bothers me for our students.”
Petty, Sutherland-Abbott and Dr. Jim Jury voted in favor of approving the contract proposed by LNEA. Diepenbrock and Louderback voted against the approval of the contract. However, four votes in favor of the contract were needed for official approval. Both sides will continue negotiating until a final contract is agreed upon.
Lead LNEA negotiator Brent Goodwin was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting. “I am very disappointed in the vote,” Goodwin said. “I was in hopes that the board would step up and do the right thing so we could get on with school and get a fair contract. What they are offering now is not a fair contract.”
Goodwin was, however, pleased with the three board members that voted in favor of approving the contract.
“They stepped up and did the right thing,” he concluded.