Like others in the community, we were disappointed to see that prospects for a successful end to the negotiations between the school board and teachers union (Hilliard Education Association) dimmed last week when the teachers voted overwhelmingly against the board's last offer....which was to be a firm and final one, as everyone understood from various news coverage. Sad, because no matter what side you stand on (and cliched or not), the kids are held hostage....given that the operating levy passage on March 4 becomes more problematic, and the levy covers ongoing operating funds.
Voters will usually tend toward the simplest reason to vote no, and the teachers' contract vote can unfortunately provide a quick way out. And the coverage now makes it clear that health insurance is the biggest hurdle, along with the traditional annual percentage increase.....at issue is about $66 per month for a teacher opting for the family health plan, we're told. Again, we'd ask both sides to talk candidly with the voters about the meaning and impact of built-in "step" increases across the salary schedule, along with any annual percentage increase in a new contract. When that's done, the public can literally and figuratively measure the school district world in light of their own personal and employment situations....so that they aren't inclined toward that easiest reason to vote no.
Essentially wedged in-between in all of this are the volunteers working on the Vote For Strong Schools committee, who have less-than-enough time to both get out the word about the true meaning and impact of the operating levy and raise the necessary funds to do so. If you're asked to make a donation of time and/or money, please at least let your thoughts and questions be known, as the volunteers will be happy to pro-actively share them with those responsible for operating the district....and that includes administration and staff. We'd suggest that a donation to facilitate communication is something apart from the negotiations.
©2008, Doug Parker, ikarensell Enterprises Inc. http://www.ikarensell.com