Work Calendar First Test In Evolving Relationship Between Teachers, Administrators
The sides are at odds regarding added days and compensation.
It's the dawn of a new day from Greenfield teachers and district administrators, who are forging a new path with each other without the guidance of collective bargaining.
Like it or leave it, collective bargaining created an environment in the past where teachers and administrators would be inclined to make an attempt to work toward common ground when hashing out such conditions of employment like the teacher work calendar.
But now, after collective bargaining has been removed from the equation, a more hierarchical relationship between the administration - the employer - and the teachers - the employees - seems to be evolving.
And with it, commonly used bargaining chips, like the school work calendar, that were once used during negotiations, are now policies handed down from administrators to teachers.
The first public hint of friction came Monday night, when Doug Perry, president of the Greenfield teachers' union pleaded for teachers to have a voice in decisions that affect them in front of the school board.
A portion of his remarks focused on the school calendar, in which he claimed a total of eight work days were added on, essentially forcing teachers to work a longer school calendar than the prior year without more pay.
"We were just given our calendar for the 2011-12 school year a couple of weeks ago … we have a concern that we have these days added to our calendar in July, maybe it was June … and that there should be some compensation for that," Perry said.
After the meeting, Perry explained that a total five days were added on to the school calendar's front and back end. An additional three days were added on throughout the school year in the form of two parent-teacher conference dates and two hours a month for "meetings and such."
"It was just unilaterally given to us," Perry said.
Greenfield Superintendent Conrad Farner responded to Perry's claim in an emailed letter to Greenfield Patch on Thursday.
"The new bargaining law prohibits districts from negotiating calendars, handbooks, benefits or any other working conditions. It is inappropriate to suggest, must less insist that we ignore state law," Farner said in the statement Thursday.
According to Farner, the teacher calendar is now 191 days, which is not atypical for Greenfield, the area or the state. Farner added Greenfield teachers have worked 189 to 192 days in past school years.
When the work year went to 189 days, the teachers also received a significant raise, according to Farner.
Two professional development days were added to arrive at 191 and an additional three paid holidays that used to be part of the work year have been "exchanged" for three professional development days, according to Farner. The days are still non-work days, but no longer paid, Farner said in his statement.
"It is difficult to argue that it is only 'fair' when teachers get less days and more pay," he wrote. "In addition to the two days, the board and administration believe that helping our teachers improve their knowledge and skills for three days instead of being paid for three holidays is also reasonable, and a more responsible use of taxpayer money."
Farner also explained a change in parent-teacher conferences in October. He wrote four hours of conferences will be held after a full day of school Oct. 20. On Oct. 26, an early dismissal date, conferences will be held for six hours, with two hours part of the regular workday and four hours of additional time, according to Farner.
"The change from the past is there is no 'compensation time' for parent-teacher conferences. In the past, there would be one less student contact day to "compensate" teachers for the 8 hours of conference time," Farner wrote.
Farner said any decision made regarding the school calendar was made with the best interests of student education in mind.
"The School Board and administration in Greenfield will always put the needs of our students first when making decisions," he wrote. "Any changes to the calendar were made for the sole purpose of improving learning opportunities for our students."