Salaries are a key component of budget considerations for the Lawrence school district and city government. The salaries paid to teachers and to police and fire department employees are an important part of the budget bill that taxpayers will be expected to pay.
Although negotiations between teachers and the school district are open to the public, negotiations between the city and its police and fire representatives traditionally are held in private. It is legal for those sessions to be closed, but it also would be legal — and perhaps beneficial — for them to be open.
Negotiations aren’t likely to draw a major crowd, but as a matter of form, taxpayers who eventually will pay the bill should have the right to observe those sessions if they choose. Opening police and fire talks to the public might have an impact on the tone of those sessions, but that impact probably would be minor unless the negotiators tried to use the sessions to grandstand for the public, which might or might not be impressed by such efforts.
It’s too late to consider any change for this year — police and fire negotiations reportedly already are at impasse — but open negotiations would be worth a try next year.