An Appeal to RB’s Teachers — 3/13/2012

Here is a post from the Landmark site that begins with reference to RBEA’s offers to forego some payment under the collective bargaining agreement:

We should give credit to the RBEA for its two offers.

Before the referendum, RBEA announced, without any public or official consideration, an offer to freeze parts of the remainder of the current 7.5% per year raise contract in exchange for passage of the referendum. Obviously this was legally non-binding, it was essentially a press release with no force of law, and it promised something the RBEA could not deliver on its own, since it would have to negotiate the new terms with the board of ed, but RBEA’s referendum-dependent offer ought not be lost in the back-and-forth since then or to come.

Second, from news reports it appears RBEA in the last several months offered the board to swap some of the compensation clauses of the existing contract for an extension of its term. None of us know the details, but that’s how it reads in the paper.

As we know, first the community voted down the referendum, quashing RBEA’s offer. Next, the representatives of the Board apparently declined the compensation-for-extension swap.

In both of these instances RBEA reasonably conditioned alienation of something it had won in negotiation to achievement of another goal — referendum passage or contract extension. This is exactly how negotiating parties act.

And it is precisely not how partners act. Partners, as all will recall, share in gains and losses. But the term “partner” has become watered down lately. Corporate bafflegab frequently refers to joint ventures as partnerships. Suppliers regularly write on their websites or in their brochures about “partnering” with their customers. Vision statements — even of some high schools — have started reciting “partners” who are in fact not partnered, and cannot become partnered. Of course, neither the jv nor the supplier/supplied relationship is that of a partnership.

And neither is the employee / employer relationship, and especially not in a public institution like a high school.

Partners share goals, risks and rewards. Municipal entities have one class of partner: taxpayers. Taxpayers share the benefits of a great school system, and taxpayers share the detriment of an over-spent, under-managed school system.

Which is what we of District 208 are doing now.

As the District, 208 taxpayers elect representatives to operate the high school in compliance with community preference bound by applicable law. It is quite clear to everyone who reads the current RBEA collective bargaining agreement and its accompanying, equally significant, 25 or so memoranda of understanding, that those elected representatives back then (2007 and 2008) gave RBEA pretty much exactly what it wanted. The CBA was approved by a membership vote of some 105-2 (roughly), which shows nearly unanimous rank-and-file support for the document and its provisions.

So the board and RBEA were “Happy Together,” which was the theme of a Spring 2007 slick brochure the board and administration paid for with our money to tell us we should be happy that they were happy [spending and receiving our money].

And then the unhappiness came, when we saw the cost of keeping RBEA happy. I do not quibble about the contract, and i have never suggested we or our board should initiate a change to it. i have said and will forever say the teachers, like every other bargaining unit, are entitled to the very best deal they can strike. Thus are we bound to cheerfully comply with the terms to which our representatives agreed.

But obviously the ground has shifted. RBEA’s two unsolicited offers to peel back aspects of the 2008-2013 contract indicate its growing awareness of 208’s inability to pay. That’s terrific, but it is not nearly enough to right the ship. We are still significantly (roughly $2 million) out of balance. Further, the new board and administration have revealed in the series of meetings and discussions since July that there was essentially no management at RBHS, such that the taxpayers’ legitimate and indivisible interests in efficiency and administration were subverted to an old-boy clique and its wandering preferences. Never was this shown more starkly than when Dr. Bonnette allowed the pro-referendum campaign to be run by Tim Scanlon using our money and equipment and personnel to get more taxes from us.

And thus I appeal to the leadership and the membership of RBEA:

Thank you for making your two offers as you did. That they were not accepted indicates that, for this district at least, times are tough. Few — if any — of the taxpayers here have had the serial raises, roughly 10% per year for the 05-08 “catch-up” contract, and roughly 7.5% per year for the current contract, that you have enjoyed. We care about RB. We know we need devoted and effective teachers. But we can only pay so much. We know our relationship must be built on fiscal sustainability, and not on robbing Peter to pay Paul. In consideration for what this community has provided for at least the last seven years, and its more than $2 million in student activity cuts and administrative efficiencies, and its agreement to more than two dozen MOA riders to the existing contract, please forego any year-five TRS reportable compensation that must be funded by firing fellow teachers. That is, any and all. Please sign a binding statement that you will accept only that portion of your year-five compensation that does not rely on District 208 firing any of your fellows.

By doing so, you will maintain the choices and experiences available to our children at RB, save us the pain and distress of firing perhaps ten of your number and preserve their positions here.

It has been a good ride, but the music for now is over. The school is being rebuilt from within. When it is thoroughly improved it will be ready to seek additional support. Your agreeing to this step will hasten that day.

It is what partners do.

Best regards, c

Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brookfield High School -- Turnaround

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