On the Talks
Gresham-Barlow School District Negotiations Update
April 16, 2012
The Gresham-Barlow School District’s negotiations team met with the Gresham-Barlow Education Association’s (GBEA) team on April 13 for 13 hours.
No settlement was reached.
Below is an overview of the Association’s proposal, and why the District was unable to accept the GBEA’s offer.
Overview of Association’s April 13 Proposal
1. Financials: Association’s proposal would still result in teacher layoffs
Previous to making their financial proposal, the Association requested and heard a presentation from the District on its financial situation for this school year and next. After nearly a year of negotiations, the District was pleased that the Association leaders were interested in reviewing the District’s current budget situation.
During the review, the District shared that at the end of 2011-12 the ending fund balance will drop down to 3%. Fiscally speaking, this is a move by the District to drop to a much lower than preferred level to support the district’s proposed budget for next yearand avoid layoffs. In the past, the school board has committed to having an ending fund balance of 5% so the district has funds set aside in the event of an emergency.
At this point, District negotiators were optimistic that this in-depth look at where the district is headed financially would lead to an Association proposal that aligned with information shared. That did not turn out to be the case.
While the Association included a proposal for 2012-13 for the first time, the Association’s proposal included a step increase next year and did not include an agreement to cut five school days from next year.
Our financial reality:
1. An increase in salary and benefits next year will require the district to cut more teachers and drive up class sizes.
2. A budget for next year that does not include a reduction of five school days will require the district to cut more teachers and drive up class sizes.
The bottom line on finance issues
· The District has consistently given pay raises in the past, even as state revenue has dropped precipitously.
· A 2011-12 step increase, while not originally proposed by the District, was provided in an effort by the District to bring resolution to bargaining.
· The two-year funding from the State for schools does not support increases in salaries for year two of the biennium (2011-13).
· Almost every school district in Oregon is in this situation, and the District is not unique in proposing to temporarily suspend step increases.
2. Hours and Workload: High School Schedule Language—Association’s instruction time and plan time proposal not yet reasonably comparable to other levels
The Association did propose a modest increase in high school instructional time, but the suggested high school schedule actually increased protected plan time and increased the disparity in plan time between high school teachers and teachers at other levels.
The GBEA’s proposed high school plan:
· Increased daily high school instructional time from 4 hours and 15 minutes to 4 hours and 42 minutes. This continues to be less time than the five hours and 25 minutes middle school and elementary school educators teach, in fact, 43 minutes less. With the probability of a five-day reduction in 2012-13, this plan would not meet the state’s required instructional minutes.
· Increased prep time for high school teachers during their proposed eight period day from 83 minutes daily to 94 minutes daily. (Two 47 minute plan periods equaling 94 minutes.)
The bottom line on teacher prep time
To maintain the amount of prep time high school teachers currently receive
· Increasing high school class sizes
· Cutting teachers at other levels to pay for additional high school positions
· Finding over a million dollars to pay for additional high school teachers
Our only reasonable and fair option is to increase high school efficiency by increasing high school instructional time—which results in less prep time at the high school level. By doing this, we are expecting educators at all levels to teach roughly the same amount of time each day. The other options listed above would be financially and educationally detrimental for the entire district.
High school prep time in a seven-period day compared to middle school and elementary schools
The seven-period high school schedule planned for next school year provides high school teachers with 50 minutes of prep time during the student contact day—five minutes more than most middle school teachers receive—twice as much time as what elementary teachers receive.
An outcome from the April 13 negotiations session: Flexibility remains in discussion of K-12 Collaboration Calendar and how time is used
Members of the District’s team and the Association’s team discussed the appropriate balance between collaborative time to support professional learning communities, data teams, grade-level teams and departments and time needed by our teachers for individual prep time. The District will continue to work with the Association and our teaching staff in trying to meet both of these important planning time elements that support good instruction and student learning.
Addressing student safety and discipline: Using our resources in ways
that will make a difference for staff and students
The issues of student discipline and safety are front and center in the work of the District. The school board has directed the superintendent to bring together administrators, representatives from the teachers association, and representatives from the classified association to address this very real challenge. This group will:
· Work together to identify the concerns and the data that needs to be collected to gain a full understanding of the concerns.
· Task the district’s insurance carrier to collect the data identified as important by this team
· Report on findings and determine where there are problems, how often these issues occur, how frequent these issues occur, and what the possible solutions are
· Identify best practice used in this school district and others
· Create a recommendation for 2012-13 that identifies changes that will support appropriate practices related to student discipline and needed changes that support staff and student safety
Session leads to better understanding
While the April 13 session did not result in a settlement, the District’s and the Association’s teams did spend a great amount of time discussing the issues at hand and looking for common ground.
District extends offer to continue talks
At the end of the evening, the District offered to meet again next week to continue negotiations. The Association, unfortunately, would not commit to another meeting date. The state mediator has called for a mediation session on April 24. The District is planning to meet on April 24, and is also open to meeting with the Association before then.
A strike is not what the Gresham-Barlow Board of Directors wants to see happen. The school board is committed to reaching a settlement with the Association.