CLINTONVILLE – Contract negotiations between the Clintonville Public School District Board of Education and the Clintonville Education Association (CEA) have come to a standstill, according to a press release distributed by the CEA at the School Board meeting on Monday, May 24.
“The negotiations process between the Clintonville Education Association (CEA) and the Board of Education have reached an impasse,” began the CEA press release, distributed by Kevin Godfrey, Robyn Rindt, and Terri Schultz, members of the CEA Negotiations Team. “The main issue creating a roadblock is the board’s demand for adding additional classes for all secondary teachers. The board’s position would increase each secondary teacher’s daily student contact numbers by approximately 20 percent.
“Teachers believe the increased numbers of students taught in the day will negatively impact educational quality,” continued the letter. “Teachers would point to proven success of the SAGE program at the elementary level, which has shown the benefits of lower class sizes in student achievement. Thus it is the CEA position that increased student numbers for secondary teachers will have a negative educational impact.
“The Board of Education’s lawyer who handles their negotiations informed the teachers back in February the board intended to pursue the legal process of arbitration to force the sixth class issue on teachers. The teachers association then voted unanimously to move forward with job actions,” stated the release. “A few days later school Superintendent Tom O’Toole, asked the teachers if they wanted to return to the bargaining table to try to work out a compromise. The CEA agreed but were then told that the board’s negotiating lawyer could not fit the meeting into his schedule for over two months.
The press release goes on to state that the parties met again on May 11. Although proposals were put forth, the CEA was again informed of the board’s intent to proceed with legal arbitration of the issue.
“While the teachers have accepted numerous board proposals, they believe the demand for a sixth class for all secondary teachers regardless of student numbers would negatively impact education and is therefore and unacceptable approach to dealing with district budget concerns,” concluded the press release. “The CEA is still hopeful that an acceptable compromise can be negotiated rather than turning the decision over to an arbitrator.”
O’Toole, who said he did not receive a copy of the press release, stated on Wednesday, May 26 that the press release doesn’t paint a clear picture of the negotiations process.
“This is a rather tainted view at what’s going on,” he stated. “There were many different offers on the table for the teachers to choose from, but they were essentially rejecting all of them.
“One concept the board has tired to keep throughout negotiations is equal workload and equal pay,” he continued. “Our elementary teachers have a similar workload and equal pay to similar districts. Our secondary teachers have less workload but equal pay to similar districts.