Officials reluctant to OK pact with district teachers because of unsettled law
The waiting game continues, as the Northern Ozaukee School Board voted Monday to defer action on a tentative contract with the Fredonia Education Association until its June meeting.
The action came on the recommendation of board member Stacie Stark, chairman of the Negotiations Committee.
Stark made a motion to place the pending contract on hold â€śuntil things are settled in Madison.â€ť
Board members voted 8-1 in support of the motion. Tom Hoffmann cast the lone dissenting vote.
Hoffmann failed to get the board to pursue a voluntary settlement with the union as soon as possible to maintain good relations with the teaching staff.
In February, the board reached a tentative agreement with the Fredonia Education Association, but a vote was delayed while Gov. Scott Walkerâ€™s budget-repair bill was being sorted out.
The teachersâ€™ union had already endorsed the agreement, which would only cover the past two school years. Teachers have been working without a contract since the 2009-10 school year.
In March, a contract vote by the board was again delayed because officials were uncertain about the implications of the then-approved state bill. Final implementation of the bill is now being held up by a legal challenge.
In an administrative memo on the contract mess, board members were urged to consider several factors.
Among those factors are â€śthe current state of the district, as well as the general communityâ€™s viewpoint on the issue and the perception of the Northern Ozaukee School District.â€ť
Another consideration, the memo said, should be â€śthe boardâ€™s future relationship with district employees, and attracting and retaining viable and effective educators.â€ť
Although Supt. Bill Harbron was out of town for the board meeting, his memo offered a caveat about the risk of putting off action on the agreement.
â€śContinued tabling of the agreement may be harmful to the future relationship between the board and teachers, and the possibility of diminished trust,â€ť Harbron wrote.
Only one resident, Town of Saukville resident Dan Bloecher, spoke about the districtâ€™s contract talks during the board meeting.
Bloecher urged officials to take a hard-line stand in negotiating with teachers.
â€śThe level of benefits we have been offering our teachers is insane. What we pay is incredible,â€ť he said. â€śWhen we do finally get a new contract, it will be very different.â€ť
The tentative agreement freezes teacher salaries, and would terminate on June 30. That means even after a contract is endorsed, labor talks will continue for the next agreement.
The board did approve the retirement of four more teachers at Mondayâ€™s meeting. They include high school English teacher Sandra Didier, middle school physical education teacher Mike Falkner, elementary
school second-grade teacher Kathy Pixler and Wisconsin Virtual Learning teacher Cheryl Frye.