School board recommends teacher negotiation, due process rights to KASB
The Basehor-Linwood school board plans to support legislation that would limit the bargaining power of teachers unions. But board members want to keep their own authority to resolve employment disputes involving tenured teachers.
The school board agreed Monday to express those views to the Kansas Association of School Boards when it meets with local boards Dec. 7-8 to decide on lobbying positions for the upcoming legislative session.
KASB recently sent out surveys to local boards, asking them to weigh in on several issues. Among those were issues about teachers unions and labor negotiations that were included in a bill that was introduced in the Kansas House last year, but which sent back to committee for further study. That means it is still active in the Legislature and can be reconsidered next year.
House Bill 2027 would have reduced to just four the number of topics that are automatically subject to negotiation between a school district and local teachers union: salaries; hours of work outside teaching periods; sick leave; personal leave; and designation of holidays.
Current law allows for a much broader list of items, including insurance benefits, grievance procedures, and the methods used for evaluating a teacher’s job performance.
“Different districts have their own list of priorities and I think that’s why this list got so long,” board member Lori Van Fleet said.
Other members of the board affirmed that trimming the list down to just a few topics wouldn’t preclude teachers from the right to negotiate the others.
“They’re still able to negotiate them, but it’s not mandatory,” Board President Dayna Miller said.
Victoria Davids, a reading teacher with the school district and representative of the Kansas National Education Association, said the point of the long list is that some districts can’t agree on negotiation terms while others, like Basehor, can.
“If it is on a mandatory list then they have to discuss it,” Davids said, “so that one side can’t prohibit the other side from talking about it.”
KASB is also seeking input from local boards about due process rights of tenured teachers.
Currently, tenured teachers who are fired or whose contracts are not renewed can appeal to an independent hearing officer. Either the school board or the teacher may appeal the hearing officer’s decision to court.
The Basehor-Linwood school board supports KASB’s longstanding position that the process should be changed so that the school board would be the hearing officer, and a teacher could appeal the board’s decision to court.
“The board would be a better finder of fact than an independent person most of the time,” said board member Eric Dove. “Seven is better than one.”
The board agreed to select Miller to represent their decision on the two topics at the KASB’s annual Delegate Assembly in December. Each member school board gets one vote at that meeting, and the outcome of those votes will determine KASB’s lobbying position.
Also at the meeting, board members:
• Heard from Superintendent David Howard, who discussed several long-range projects around the district including facility improvements such as replacing the roof at Basehor Elementary School and upgrading several athletic facilities. Howard also outlined the success of the parent-teacher conference nights. A survey of parents indicated that 68 percent of them appreciated additional time with teachers provided this year. Howard also said that the fire marshal’s official report for the district made no official findings of risk in any of the school buildings.
• Heard from several teachers at Glenwood Ridge Elementary who showcased a new reading program as well as a the Presidential Volunteer Service Award program in which students, if they accumulate 100 hours of volunteer service, can receive a signed letter from President Barack Obama.
• Heard that the state Board of Education is considering a finger print background policy or all certified staff. All new teachers already go through such a process.
• Approved a 2012-13 audit report.
• Approved six out-of-state travel requests for teachers and classes travelling to Kansas City, MO.
• Approved the resignation of custodian Tony Murphy.