Meridian teachers union will invite trustees back to bargaining table

Meridian School District’s teachers union will push to bring trustees back to the bargaining table, after the school board abruptly ended negotiations and imposed a contract settlement Monday.

Luke Franklin, Meridian Education Association president, said Wednesday he will write to trustees formally asking them to return to discussions that began last February. He said teachers may also e-mail board members asking them to reconsider their decision.

“There are different steps we can take that won’t disturb education of the students,” Franklin told the Idaho Statesman Wednesday.

Teachers say they were caught off guard when Meridian trustees declared an impasse in negotiations and sent out contracts with the board’s last offer to meet a July 1 state deadline for when teacher contracts must be issued.

“This heavy-handed power play on the part of the district is disrespectful to the teachers and students of Meridian,” Franklin said in the statement earlier this week.

Teachers and trustees were $4 million apart on a contract, much of it money teachers wanted for pay increases based on the number of years educators had worked in the district. Teachers had made nearly $8 million in concessions as of Friday, including giving up on a 1.67 percent pay raise.

But Franklin said the trustees’ decision left a lot of issues on the table.

District administrators say they simply don’t have the money to meet teachers’ demands and continuing to sit down at the bargaining table would be dishonest.

“We don’t want to bankrupt our district,” Franklin said. “At the same time, there are several things I’d like to talk about that have nothing to do with money (and) would go a long with teacher trust.”

Those issues include class sizes, caseloads for special education teachers and teacher preparation time, Franklin said.

Posted in In The Classroom