EDITOR'S NOTE: Reporter Ivy Herron tried to contact the Clay Community school board members and Superintendent William Schad after talking to Russ True, Clay Community Schools classroom teacher association president. She was not able to discuss the matter with them before the report, "Teachers working without contract ..." was published Monday. Early Tuesday morning. Steven Grigsby, president, Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees gave the following written comments to The Brazil Times.
By STEVEN GRIGSBY
For The Times
The school board plans to discuss the facts about the bargaining process at the January board meeting. The plan is to provide a historical review about where we have been and where we are now with the bargaining process.
According to Dave Emmert, chief staff attorney for the Indiana Schools Boards Association this is permissible under Indiana law as long as we stay with the facts.
The board believes the community and staff have a right to know the issues that are on the table, the items that have been tentatively agreed to at this point, and the costs involved to the school corporation, and most importantly, the costs to the taxpayers of this county.
Health insurance has taken a very large portion of our general fund budget. This makes bargaining very difficult, because there is very little money to bargain with. The teachers are deserving of a pay increase, but the board can't give them what we don't have.
This school board has offered the teachers a pay increase contingent upon primarily one item and that being the student schedule, which the board feels is best for the students in Clay Community Schools. It is the scheduling item, along with the costs, the board wants to make public at the January meeting.
On Oct. 19, 2004, the board did in fact offer the teachers a one-half percent increase. Another offer was made on March 21, 2005, of a 1 percent increase. These offers were made in addition to the increments and health insurance increases the teachers are already receiving. Increment and health insurance increases for 2005-2006 school year are approximately $375,000. The teachers are currently receiving this additional amount.
In fact, according to the business office, the total dollar package received and offered to the teachers is approximately three times greater than the package being considered for the classified staff and administration at this Thursday's board meeting. I do not understand how the teachers association can say this board has not tried to be fair with them.
We have been told by the administration and guidance personnel at Northview and Clay City high schools that a seven-period day schedule, teach five classes, as proposed by the teachers association will not benefit the student curriculum. They further said we would be better off staying with the current schedule rather than the schedule proposed by the teachers association.
The board has proposed a seven-period day, teach six schedule, to keep class size down and maintain curricular programs. The administration and guidance staff have told the board the seven-period day, teach six classes, is a better schedule for the students than what has been proposed by the teachers association.
The classified and administrative staff are not a part of the bargaining unit with teachers; therefore, the board can go ahead and settle with them Thursday, if the board chooses.