- Seven-period day still contract sticking point
A settlement offer of $1 million dollars in various salary increases and benefits by the Clay Community School Board of Trustees was not enough to persuade the Clay Community Classroom Teachers' Association to agree to a student seven- period day with teachers teaching six instructional classes.
"We want to settle this contract as much as the teachers do," Board President Steve Grigsby told the audience Thursday night, referring the February bargaining session with the teachers' negotiation team. "We talked about several items of the teachers' proposal and agreed to most. There's only one thing left that we are concerned with at this time, and that's the seven-period day."
The board accepted the following unsettled contract items if the teachers' association would agree to the seven-period day:
- Salary increases
The board agreed to a one-half of 1 percent salary increase for both the 2003-04 and the 2004-05 school years with a 1 percent salary increase in the 2005-'06 school year.
This would give teachers a 2 percent retroactive salary increase above and beyond any incremental raises already in place.
"This is exactly what the teachers asked for," Grigsby said.
- Reduction in force (RIF) language
In an unprecedented move to calm fears about layoffs, the board agreed to put into writing that no teachers would be laid off for one year.
"No school board in the state has done this, but we made this offer to the teachers' association," he said.
- Restructured school day
The teachers' proposal for an additional 15 minutes to the secondary level and 10 minutes to the elementary level was acceptable to the Board. The bank time generated by lengthening the school day will be used to create two half-student days per semester. Once students are dismissed the remaining portion of the school day would be used for in-service activities for teachers.
- In-service days
The removal of two in-service days in the present contract, as requested by the teachers' association, was acceptable to the board.
- Seven-period day
Once implemented at Northview and Clay City Jr./Sr. High School and in grades seven and eight at North Clay Middle School, a teacher would not teach more than six classes and have one preparation period during the school day. (North Clay Middle School sixth-grade classes will remain on the current schedule.)
A duty assignment such as lunch duty, study hall or team preparation may be made by the administration in lieu of one instructional class as determined by administration personnel.
"We realize that it is an excessive workload to prepare for six individual classes. That is why a teacher will not have more than four subject matters to prep for. But some teachers, due to their teaching area, may only teach five classes and have a duty assignment for the sixth period," Grigsby said. "This is the only item (seven-period day) the board has requested. This isn't something we just thought up. It was recommended by the administration to meet the higher school standards. Guidance personnel from Northview, North Clay Middle School and Clay City met twice and talked about this for hours. They say it's needed."
The new schedule would allow students more flexibility in scheduling classes and offer more class selections to choose from while reducing the number of students in each class.
These are benefits the board members unanimously stand behind. But, due to contract language, the students' schedules cannot be changed to a seven- period day without the consent of the teachers' association.
Making a settlement offer of over $1 million consisting of increment increases, health insurance increases and salary increases to the teachers' association in the face of budget problems for the corporation has been a difficult decision for the board.
"Our obligation, as a school board, is to the students, parents and community. We need to practice and provide sound fiscal management while meeting the educational needs of our students," Grigsby said. "We feel we have tried our best to be fair to all of the teachers in Clay Community Schools."
The negotiation process will continue in an effort to obtain a seven-period day for the students, Grigsby said.
Further public updates about contract negotiations from the board will be made available in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Indiana State School Board Association.
After 511 days of working without a contract, the crowd of teachers, dressed in black for solidarity and wearing their "Working Without a Contract" buttons, promptly left the meeting at the end of the presentation.