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Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Bell: 4-H’ers may get lesson in 911 information; legal approach questioned in Eudora negotiations; ‘What’s the matter with teachers today?’

September 29, 2011

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4-H'ers gather with Douglas County commissioners Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, at the Douglas County Courthouse to celebrate the proclamation of Oct. 3-9, 2011, as "National 4-H Week in Douglas County."

4-H'ers gather with Douglas County commissioners Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, at the Douglas County Courthouse to celebrate the proclamation of Oct. 3-9, 2011, as "National 4-H Week in Douglas County."

Douglas County commissioners honored area 4-H'ers on Wednesday afternoon at the Douglas County Courthouse, proclaiming next week to be National 4-H Week in Douglas County.

Commissioners thanked the youth development organization for its work helping students address problems in communities, raising awareness about environmental issues and making “a difference for their futures,” among other things.

“Thanks to each of you,” said Jim Flory, commission chairman, to a handful of 4-H'ers and leaders attending Wednesday’s commission meeting. “Thanks for all you do.”

Later in the meeting, after the 4-H'ers left, commissioners considered putting the youngsters to work: Sheriff Ken McGovern suggested that 4-H might be a good group for helping spread the word about the county’s plans for implementing Smart 911 services in the county.

•••

As negotiations for a new work contract for teachers move into mediation this evening in Eudora, several issues regarding compensation look to be on the table: wages, insurance benefits, reimbursement for unused leave among them. Teachers also are looking for a guaranteed amount of time for planning.

Then there’s a topic that doesn’t make the formal discussion but hovers above the proceedings: just who is doing the negotiating?

Members of the Eudora Education Association handle negotiations on behalf of the district’s 108 licensed educators, while the district is represented by the superintendent, two Eudora school board members and ... a hired attorney from Lathrop & Gage.

“They pay a lawyer to tell us they don’t have any money,” said Dick Powers, a member of the teachers’ negotiating team who teaches second grade at Eudora Elementary School. “They pay a lawyer $250 an hour to say they don’t have any money? It’s the principle of it. We’ve never brought that up to the board, but it’s a good point: Why do they have a lawyer negotiate for them?”

•••

With all the issues of the day out there — consolidation talk, budget challenges, curriculum work, capital needs, even questions regarding standards-based grading in middle schools — sometimes it’s difficult to take a step back and look at the context behind certain decisions and deliberations involving schools.

Then I came across an interesting story — called "What's the matter with teachers today?" — from a writer at the Seattle Times, outlining how teaching has become “one of the most criticized jobs” in America.

“What’s up with that?” the writer asks.

It’s an interesting article, looking back at days of early teaching in America and how history has shaped matters today.

Comments

volunteer 2 years, 11 months ago

I'm sure NEA has some attorneys or "professional negotiators" if that is the way the Board wants to play it.

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Tracy Rogers 2 years, 11 months ago

Having a lawyer is being smart with your money. Negotiations is the single most cost item a board controls. It wouldn't be very smart or prudent to try and do that without legal counsel.

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