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Archive for Thursday, June 28, 1990

SCHOOL BOARD, TEACHERS TAKE CONTRACT DISPUTE TO MEDIATOR

June 28, 1990

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— The Baldwin School Board and its teachers will meet with a federal labor mediator next month in an attempt to settle a contract dispute.

The board and the teachers failed to reach a contract agreement for the 1990-91 school year and declared impasse May 25, the state's deadline for contract agreements before the mediation process begins.

The meeting with the mediator will be 9 a.m. July 11 in the Baldwin Junior High School library and will last as long as needed for both sides either to reach a contract agreement or to consent to go to fact-finding, the next step in the labor-dispute process.

A fact-finder assigned to the case would review evidence and recommend how the two sides should reach an agreement. The school board is not obligated to accept the fact-finder's recommendation.

If a contract agreement or decision to go to fact-finding cannot be reached during the July 11 meeting, more meetings will be scheduled, Carl Wallmark, the mediator, said today.

WALLMARK said from his Kansas City, Mo., office that two mediation sessions typically are needed to bring the groups to agreement or to fact-finding.

Wallmark also said the mediation process does not really limit how much time or how many meetings he can hold before the groups must go to fact-finding.

"We negotiate until all the issues are exhausted or until the mediator is exhausted," he said.

Wallmark has worked for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Kansas City, Mo., for 22 years.

The school board and the teachers split on three issues: salary, class size and arbitration.

The board's last salary offer called for a 3.52 percent overall salary increase, which would raise the district's base salary from $20,700 to $21,100.

HOWEVER, the teachers' last proposal called for a 7.5 percent salary increase, which would take the base salary to $22,253.

Roger Arnold, school board member and negotiator, said recently that the teachers' proposal would cost the district 9.1 percent more in salaries than it currently is paying when the proposed increase is spread across the district's salary index.

The two groups also have been unable to agree on class sizes.

James L. Marchello, a representative for the Kansas National Education Assn. in Topeka, who is negotiating for the Baldwin teachers, said the teachers want the board to adopt a policy outlining the minimum and maximum number of students allowed in each class.

Under the teachers' proposal, no fewer than 16 and no more than 23 students would be allowed in each class in kindergarten through second grade, Marchello said. Also, no fewer than 17 and no more than 24 students would be allowed in classrooms in grades three through six, he said.

IF THE maximums were exceeded, the proposal calls for one of three remedies. The district would either hire a qualified teacher's aide to assist in the classroom; hire a new teacher and create a new class; or hire a new teacher to team-teach with other teachers.

Arnold said the board will agree to use the restrictions as a guideline, but is not willing to adopt them as policy, saying the policy would tie board members' hands when dealing with the topic.

The district has five schools spread over a large area, all of which are growing, Arnold said. He said the number of students fluctuates at each school so much from year to year that the board needs to be flexible when dealing with class sizes.

THE THIRD area of dispute between the two involves "binding arbitration."

In the event of a dispute between a teacher and district administration, the teachers are asking that a third and neutral party be brought in to settle the matter and that the administration agree to be bound by the third party's recommendation.

The board refuses to agree to binding arbitration, Arnold said.

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