Written by Mark Jaeger
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 15:47
Officialsâ€™ refusal to budge on June timetable criticized as costing district savings
The Northern Ozaukee School Board refused last week to budge from an April vote to delay action on a contract with the teachersâ€™ union until June.
Even though members of the Fredonia Education Association have been working without a contract for nearly two years, board members decided the uncertainty in Madison over Gov. Scott Walkerâ€™s budget-repair law made the timing for a new union pact unwise.
FEA lead negotiator Charles Schwartz said the boardâ€™s shelving of contract talks represents â€śmissed opportunity.â€ť
Schwartz said union members are willing to make substantial concessions, but the board has not looked into how much teachers are willing to give up to reach a contract accord.
â€śYou never even tried â€¦ costing the district three months of possible savings. You should know the teachers love it here and donâ€™t want to go anywhere,â€ť he said.
Board member Tom Hoffmann shared that view, saying the refusal to keep working toward a contract settlement serves no one.
â€śWe are not bargaining in good faith. We need to look at taking the contract off the table. Next month may be too late,â€ť Hoffmann said.
Board President Paul Krause told Hoffmann a vote to reconsider the teacher contract could not be taken because the item was not on the board agenda.
Instead, a straw poll of the board members showed officials are content to wait until June to take up the teachersâ€™ contract.
Hoffmann, Krause and Tim Burmesch said they would support a special meeting to consider the contract before the June session.
The teachersâ€™ union has already endorsed a tentative agreement that would only cover the past two school years. Teachers have been working without a contract since the 2009-10 school year.
The board met in closed session Tuesday night to consider staffing for the 2011-12 school year.