Thursday, August 6, 2009

Financial Emergency

Last week at the Board Meeting, there was a vigorous discussion about declaring a financial emergency. Among other options, it would give the administration the ability to freeze step and column movement for teachers.

I won't go into the specifics of the step-and-column discussion, but I will say that I believe this went as well as it could. For those who didn't attend:
- the district was considering declaring an emergency
- the teachers and classified staff have said they feel they are being effectively blackmailed
- the district has decided not to act until the Aug 17 Board meeting. If no meaningful agreement has been reached by that time to close the budget gap, the district will act unilaterally to address the shortfall

My thoughts:

1) I agree with the decision to consider the motion now. It is important that the employees understand that there is a very real problem here. In start-ups where I have worked, wage concessions and other austerity measures were better received when folks have some visibility and have been given the opportunity to chime in.

2) in this case, the teachers and classified staff will have an opportunity to make meaningful concessions at negotiating sessions before Aug 17. They've said they pride themselves on the working relationship. It is time to see it in action.

3) I also agree with the decision to postpone the final vote until Aug 17. Give folks one last chance to address the problem.

Let's all follow this closely and see where it goes.

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