- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Negotiators for the USD 489 Board of Education and the Hays-NEA bargaining unit came to a tentative agreement on concurrent credit classes Monday evening.

Those teaching concurrent classes will receive 85 percent of the amount paid by the higher education facility, and the school district will retain 15 percent, according to the tentative agreement.

That is just one negotiating point in the 2015-16 contract that must be ratified by the bargaining unit and approved by the BOE.

There was no agreement on other issues such as grievance and binding arbitration, pay for leave and hours and amounts of work.

Under the board’s proposal the number of days in teachers’ contract would increase, and their working days would be extended.

Kim Schneweis, co-chair of the H-NEA bargaining committee, asked if the board was getting complaints from the public about the number and length of days.

“I think what they were getting complaints about is the fact that our calendar is shorter than most, if not all, and that the contract day is shorter than most,” said Greg Schwartz, one of two negotiators for the BOE.

Schneweis said the additional time will require more money.

“I don’t think you can ask professionals to work for free. I think it’s reasonable to expect people to be paid for that time,” Schneweis said. “You are getting that time now for free because people are coming in early, and they are staying late.”

Earlier in the meeting Schwartz said it could be difficult to look at hours and amounts of work until the issue of salary is discussed.

“It’s really difficult to come up with a plan until you know everything.”

“So basically, what you’re saying is once we get to talking salaries, that may work into the hours and amount of work?” said Kathy Wagoner, co-chair of the H-NEA bargaining committee.

“It could,” Schwartz said.

Members of the bargaining committee also asked about including a grandfather clause in any changes to the leave payout teachers receive when they retire.

“I think to set teachers’ minds at ease, I mean we have some teachers that could still retire,” Wagoner said. “They’re waiting to find out if they’re going to lose their sick leave or not.”

“I really believe that could be a detriment to students, if you have a teacher retire the week before school starts,” Ron Leikam, H-NEA bargaining committee member.

Schwartz said he agreed.

“That’s not our choice; that’s theirs,” he said. “There’s got to be a grandfather provision. However whether we come up with one that the board agrees to, and that you guys agree to, is the question.”

Lance Bickle, BOE negotiator, said the board realizes that in order to get something passed, there has to be a grandfather clause.

Grandfathering in teachers’ service to USD 489 may be approved, but time spent in other districts may not be allowed.

“Why reward somebody severance that USD 489 pays out for years of service in some other school district?” Schwartz said.

If they haven’t been in the district very long, the payout for unused leave will be a very minimal amount, Schneweis said.

No change is likely for the 2015-16 contract year on the board’s proposed changes to health insurance. Administrators still are collecting information, Superintendent Dean Katt said.

Another negotiations meeting is scheduled for next week.

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