Lawrence school board members voted unanimously Monday to send a letter to a Kansas legislative committee opposing a bill that would limit teachers' collective bargaining rights.
"Now is not the time to be attacking their rights as individuals," said board president Vanessa Sanburn.
House Bill 2085 is currently pending in the House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development. The panel held a hearing on the bill Jan. 29 but has not yet voted on whether to send it to the full House.
It would provide that the method of evaluating teachers, as well as the length and number of teaching periods in a day, would no longer be subject to collective bargaining. It would also remove the right of unions to be the exclusive bargaining agent for teachers. And it would give teachers who choose not to belong to the local union the right to negotiate their own contracts individually.
"This has nothing to do with improving education," said board member Rick Ingram. "Part of it, for me, is philosophical. The chipping away of collective bargaining rights really bothers me."
The letter, which will be sent to members of the committee, says the bill is "ill-timed given surrounding circumstances, and quite simply seems to be a solution in search of an unillustrated and unjustified problem."
Deena Burnett, president of the Lawrence Education Association, the bargaining unit for teachers in the Lawrence school district, read a statement opposing the bill and urging board members to endorse the letter.
"Remember that these attacks are being orchestrated by people living in other states and other cities who have a whole different agenda," Burnett said. "And that is for public schools to fail, whether by cutting funding, enacting ridiculous laws and-or splintering the very people who work to ensure the success of all students."
No one spoke in opposition to sending the letter.
In other business, the board:
• Heard a report from Superintendent Rick Doll that the district will soon begin interviewing candidates for the open principal positions at Pinckney School and Sunset Hill School.
• Received an annual report from the Lawrence Schools Foundation.
• Received a report from the board's Finance Advisory Council.
• And recognized students who have been named National Merit finalists and students who have received other national scholar recognitions.