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Resolution Near On School Administrators Contract

by Melissa Bailey | Dec 11, 2013 9:24 am

(3) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Labor, Schools

Melissa Bailey File Photo A panel of arbitrators is set to release by next week the terms of a new labor contract for school administrators, according to officials who huddled behind closed doors Monday to discuss the topic.

The school board met in executive session Monday for over half an hour at Hill Regional Career High School to discuss the next labor contract for the school administrators union. The union represents 116 principals, assistant principals, and other central office staff, such as the citywide supervisors of math, science and music.

Arbitrators have until Dec. 18 to award a new contract, which is expected to reflect an agreement between labor and management.

The fact that the contract is in binding arbitration is less a sign of disagreement, and more a sign of a failure to settle quickly enough to meet deadlines set by the state.

Like the teachers union, the administrators union has been racing the clock to negotiate a new labor contract with a new superintendent, Garth Harries. Unlike with other municipal unions, where negotiations can go on for years, state law sets a brisk timeline for settling contracts governing school staff. The deadlines are based on when the school board has to put together its budget.

This year, teachers waited until the last minute to settle theirs: The union held a ratification vote in the 11th hour before state law would have sent the contract to binding arbitration, where a panel of three arbitrators would have decided teachers’ fate.

By a 10 to 1 vote, teachers agreed to a second landmark contract that stays the course of school reform. The new contract allows for pay raises in tough budget times by making use of a $53 million federal grant. For the first time, the raises won’t be automatic: Teachers who score poorly on job evaluations will be denied an increase in pay until they perform up to 10 hours of professional development. The contract is the first to link pay to new teacher evaluations based on student performance. The contract also created new leadership positions through which teachers can get extra responsibility and extra compensation.

School officials have sought to make similar changes with school administrators in their latest contract, making use of the grant to afford pay raises and create new leadership roles. Like teachers, principals also face new job evaluations based on student performance on educator-set goals. Administrators’ last three-year contract expires on June 30.

Negotiations with the administrators union, whose contract often reflects the teachers’, have lagged too far behind to let union members vote on the changes. It’s too late to settle the agreement through a ratification vote, according to Will Clark, the schools chief operating officer and labor negotiator.

Clark said the contract lies in the hands of a panel of three arbitrators: former city labor director John Romanow (chosen by the city), Jim Furgeson (chosen by the union), and Richard Kosinski, a third party agreed upon by both sides.

Arbitrators have until Dec. 18 to award a contract, according to state statute, Clark said. Arbitrators will review offers from both sides on each issue, such as pay and health care, and cast votes either for the city or for the union in each case.

Despite the late hour, there’s still room for both sides to receive a mutually agreed-upon contract, Clark explained. That can be done through what’s called a stipulated award, in which the offers from both sides are identical, so the arbitrators simply award both sides what they had requested.

Union President Cheryl Brown said following tradition in her union, she is not involved in contract negotiations. Richard Therrien, chairman of the union negotiation team and the district’s science supervisor, declined to comment on negotiations in advance of an award.

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posted by: Ozzie on December 11, 2013  9:42am

Did I miss it in the article or was there nothing mentioned about medical benefits . Will new administrators have no benefits for their children and pay 50 percent for their spouse’s like the Police , and what the City wants to give the Fire Department ? ? ?

posted by: Noteworthy on December 11, 2013  10:45am

I wonder if this contract will continue the payment of a 1% bribe to principals to institute educational reforms - in other words, paying them extra to do what they are supposed to do anyway.

posted by: RichTherrn on December 12, 2013  10:27am

Just to noteā€¦ this picture is not of me leading negotiations!
(It is from the summer new science teacher orientation)

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