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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, , 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 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. 

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."

Kathy MacAvaney August 01, 2011 at 04:40 PM
"The School Board and administration in Greenfield will always put the needs of our students first when making decisions," It is in the best interest of the students of Greenfield to have administration demonstrate an appropriate level of respect for their teachers. Please keep in mind the following: 1) Due to the contract cycle for the Greenfield School District when Gov. Thompson's administration initiated the QEO, our teachers have had roughly a decade of lower pay than most comparable districts. 2) In February when many school districts closed due to Walker budget attacks on public education, Greenfield schools remained open. 3) Greenfield teachers DID NOT cause or even add to the financial woes of the past few years. The blame needs to be placed upon the banking industry and policies of our federal government. For this year's Wisconsin budget, the blame clearly needs to be placed upon the Walker administration’s pay for play policies. 4) If the text of the bargaining law really reads that the district cannot discuss such matters with their employees prior to making the decisions, the responsible thing for the administration is to openly defy this law and challenge it’s legality. That is, if they want to set a good example for the students. The civics lesson would be invaluable.
Ben Hogan August 01, 2011 at 05:09 PM
a previous Quote from Kathy MacAvaney: Kathy MacAvaney commented on: Collective Bargaining Decision Further Delays School District's Budget Progress Even the Walker administration has to follow the law! In all likelihood Wisconsin's state government will look much different … Apparently she only means that you have to follow the laws you agree with!!!
Kathy MacAvaney August 01, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Bob, When I said "even the Walker administration has to follow the law!" it was referring to the point in time when Judge Sumi decided that legislature needed to follow the open meetings law. The difference is, that openly defying an unjust law AND challenging its legality is one venue citizens have to change laws they deem unfair. The other is filing a lawsuit which takes more time and money (both in short supply.) If the Walker administration didn’t think the open meetings law was fair, they simply needed to rewrite it and pass a new version. The ability of citizens to challenge a law in the court system is one major reason we have a court system, our third branch of government. The Greenfield School Administration is likewise not in a position to change this law, therefor if it would like to challenge the law filling a lawsuit or defying the law and challenging its legality are the only ways to go about it.
Jean August 01, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Kathy, I don't read in the artivle that the district admin. has any desire to challenge the law. I'm also sure quite a few citizens are content with things the way they have changed.
Ben Hogan August 01, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Kathy the problem with your entire arguement is that it has already been proven that the Republicans did not violate the open meetings law!!!!!!! It was also concluded that judge Summi overstepped her authority. The Walker administration never said the open meetings law was unfair, they simply claimed that they and the non-partisan clerk never violated the law. They were then proven correct by our Supreme Court.
Ben Hogan August 01, 2011 at 06:51 PM
"Unjust law" is in the eye of the beholder!! There are many laws I do not agree with but I follow them anyway. There probably isn't a law on the books that someone can not claim is "unjust" . Using your rationale every law should be challenged in court by someone who does not like that law.
JOHN August 18, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Are you on the School Board Kathy? i was just curious?
JOHN August 18, 2011 at 02:17 AM
Ben you and Jean are correct!
JOHN August 18, 2011 at 02:27 AM
I hear that the adminisrtation is hiring a number new assistant principals at the elemntary and middle schools? Why more administration? Also are they cutting on student services yet, that susually what happens in top heavy school districts. Has anyone noticed that a lot Administration hires in Greenfield come from West Allis School District, why is that?

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