By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
With the entire board present, USD No. 480’s attorney urged the Board of Education to take the counter offer of the teachers to a vote one more time. With only three board members voting to revisit the vote, the motion failed. Negotiators on both sides will go back to square one in an effort to construct a contract the Board of Education and the teachers can live with.
Board President Reid Petty made a motion to enter into executive session to discuss negotiations. Board member Dan Diepenbrock was the only board member to oppose this motion.
Following executive session, four teachers addressed the board regarding personal and district-wide issues.
First grade McDermott Elementary teacher Kathy Peterson informed the board of the many extra hours she and other teachers put into their jobs.
“I don’t know about you, but I give a lot of extra time,” Peterson said. “I am usually there by seven at the latest, I am usually there until 6:30. I work the whole time I am there, I take things home with me and I am sure you work at your jobs too. I don’t know if you would really want to be taking things home and doing the extra things and getting nothing in return. I don’t think we are being unreasonable. I do think we need to find some compromise to get this taken care of for the kids sake.”
West Middle School teacher Patrick Knott believed fair compensation was key regarding keeping good teachers in the district.
“I am a 13 year teacher, most of the teachers in the district are older teachers,” Knott said. “You put $250 on the base, by the time it reaches us, we are making $20. All I am asking on your part is to step up and compensate us for what we do, especially the older ones who have been around – and to keep the younger ones. If you want people to stay in the district, you need to step up and applaud us and show us the money.”
Lincoln Elementary second grade teacher and single mother Rebecca Parrish informed the board she has had to take on a second job to care for her child.
“I am a single mom of an amazing 14-year-old,” Parrish said. “I was working minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet so I decided to go back to college to make a better life for my son and I. This is my fifth year and guess what? I still don’t make enough to make ends meet. I had to get another job. The reason I got my degree was to get out of working two or three jobs. If I have to work outside of the classroom, how effective would I be as a classroom teacher. I only want to work one job.”
Garfield Elementary ESL teacher Cynthia Carter simply requested the board have a change of heart regarding its decision.
“I am thankful for my job and Lord knows I absolutely love my job,” Carter said. “I am concerned for the teachers and the extra days. I know my five kids at the end of the year were exhausted. Three days is a lot. I would like for you to reconsider, I would like for you to change your minds about the three extra days.”
Even after the board’s attorney suggested the board revisit the vote from the Aug. 30 special meeting regarding the teachers’ counter offer, it was not to be. Three board members, president Reid Petty, vice president Tammy Sutherland-Abbott and Stacy Johnson approved to vote again, causing the motion to fail with the four remaining board members opposing the motion.
Petty said, unfortunately, both sides will go back to the drawing board.
“It probably goes back to the negotiators from both sides,” Petty said. “We had the first public vote, and our negotiating attorney actually requested we take another vote (Tuesday evening) since we had two board members gone (Aug. 30), but the rest of the board didn’t want to vote publically on it again. There is no other option, I don’t think – which is unfortunate.”