Thursday, August 10, 2006

BOE & MNEA negotiations

Yesterday from about 3:15 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. the BOE met with the teacher's union to hammer out the final sticking points of the educational agreement. There were the subject of diversified pay and elimination of a key sentence regarding final decisions.

We spent the vast majority of that 7 hours wrestling with the diversified pay. I may never understand why they are so set against us paying hard working teachers what they're worth. They expressed concerned about creating 'dissension' in the ranks. I'm concerned about attracting and retaining teachers with proven skills.

The MNEA objected to the Board being allowed to appoint a community member to a committee to set the parameters for this pay--that would give the Board, in MNEA opinion, an unfair advantage. We agreed on 3 from the administration, 1 from the BOE and 4 from MNEA.

I and several other BOE members as well as MNPS staff objected to MNEA being called an 'equal partner' in school restructuring. The BOE concerns included the fact that we are charged with holding the director of schools accountable and if MNEA had 'equal partner' status in these restructurings the director wouldn't be fully responsible and accountable to the board.

The MNEA insisted on having these extra monies paid through the MNPS payroll system vs. them receiving them directly from the grant agency via a 1099. Their argument that these teachers would be surprised by this sort of payment and not understand their tax obligations or get the pension benefit didn't get far with me.

So we were left with:

Memorandum of Agreement on Diversified Pay Committee:
The Board agrees to work in partnership with MNEA to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot diversified pay plan at Alex Green and Inglewood elementary schools for three years starting in the 2006-07 school year pending receipt of adequate grant and/or private funding. All certificated staff at each school shall be eligible for diversified pay on the basis of parameters agreed to by a committee consisting of three members representing the administration, four from the MNEA, and one member of the Board of Education. The committee shall accept public input from community members. The committee shall be chaired jointly by a member appointed by the administration and one by the MNEA. The committee shall conclude its work and report back to a Joint Conference of MNEA and the Board of Education as soon as feasible, but no later than September 26, 2006. The supplemental agreement shall be ratified by October 15, 2006. Continuation or expansion of the pilot beyond the 2008-09 school year shall require the mutual agreement of the MNEA and the Board. All diversified compensation shall be paid to certificated staff via the MNPS payroll system. The Board and the MNEA agree to use the committee structure described above to develop, implement and evaluate any other diversified pay for teachers in MNPS (exclusive of charter schools).

Memorandum of Agreement on School Restructuring
The Board shall involve MNEA in preliminary discussion on school restructuring necessitated by the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.
About 10:00 p.m. we finally got to the paragraph in Article I, Section E-8 of the Educational Agreement with the MNEA (page 3). That sentence is:
"If agreement cannot be reached through deliberation with a mediator, the Board shall have the responsibility for a final decision. "
MNEA wanted to eliminate that sentence. I understand this had been a sticking point all along.

Ms. Nevill, myself and Ms. Warden (who had been our chief negotiator liason all along) spoke all saying essentially no. My comments were short and to the point: "Absolutely no way."

The MNEA went to the back room to caucus and came back rather quickly. They gave it up. The signatures were affixed and we were all free to go.

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