Recently the Reynolds School Board issued a message to the community regarding contract negotiations with the Reynolds Education Association and its values and priorities.
The Reynolds Education Association values problem solving, accuracy, good faith bargaining and high-quality public education.
This is best done face-to-face with those who have the power to make decisions. There were more than 130 teachers willing to spend their personal time at the mediation session, but no school board members were present.
Board chairwoman Theresa Delaney-Davis said, 'We didn't go, knowing it would be an all-day session.'
She also said, 'We were ready if we would have had a reason to come together to have a discussion.'
Furthermore, the district negotiations team did not offer any proposals at any time during mediation, and actually refused to discuss the proposals that the association brought to the session.
This is extremely discouraging to teachers.
We want to talk through and settle these issues, but the district does not seem interested in that. Association members were dismayed by the lack of attention shown by the board at the first mediation session, and are discouraged by the lack of appropriate avenues for dialogue.
The association disputes the cost the district assigned to our initial proposal, believing our proposal to be several million dollars less. More importantly, at the first mediation session, the association gave the district a new package of proposals, which further reduced the cost.
The association members are disappointed to see inaccurate and misleading information continue to be posted on the district website and in the school board's messages to the community.
The association's proposal included money because teachers are trying to keep up with rising insurance premiums and an increased cost of living. After agreeing to furlough days, pay freezes and layoffs, teachers watched as the school district continued to uncover millions of dollars of hidden funds over the last three years.
It should be noted that more than half of the teachers in the Reynolds School District are not affected by step raises. The association members are discouraged by the lack of respect shown by the school board for our profession.
Good faith bargaining
The association uses the collective-bargaining process to raise issues that reflect teachers' priorities. The association brought forth issues concerning the ability of our members to deliver a high-quality education and issues concerning being treated with respect, balance and fairness.
The school board brought forth proposals that eliminate protections, rights and members' input in district decisions.
The district has stated its priorities include having students in school as much as possible. While teachers are also concerned with having students in school for a full school year, we are equally aware of and continue to advocate for the resources necessary to make that school time valuable and effective.
High-quality public education
In order to make students' time in school valuable and effective, teachers need time to create meaningful lessons and give constructive feedback to students about their work.
Our class sizes need to be reasonable so that we can give individual attention to each child. At the very least, we should be allowed to discuss this issue with the district.
The association's members also want to continue improving their practice by making professional development a priority.
Finally, we want to problem-solve together so the entire district can be successful. The association believes that high-quality public education happens when teachers are respected as collaborative professionals.
Joyce Rosenau is president of the Reynolds Education Association. She teaches fourth grade at Glenfair Elementary. She has lived in the district for 27 years and has been a teacher in the district for 16 years.