Teacher, school district negotiations hit impasse
MINDEN – Negotiations between the Douglas County School District and the teacher’s union have reached an impasse and the two groups will now have to work through an arbitrator.
Both association President Marty Cronin and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel John Soderman refused to comment on specifics of the negotiations.
Before arbitration can begin, however, a complaint filed by the district against the teacher’s association will be heard by the Employee Management Relations Board.
District spokeswoman Maggie Allen said the complaint was filed because district officials believe the association had not allowed regular negotiations to take place and prematurely declared an impasse.
Cronin said the association had met the statutory requirements of attending at least four meetings, and its members were forced to declare an impasse to protect themselves.
“The reason we declared an impasse was a belief there was no progress in the negotiations to that point. It gives an element of protection to employees to make an impasse decision,” Cronin said. “We even suggested mediation and that was declined by the district, and I think that also represents our good-faith efforts to resolve the issues.”
Allen said if the district is found to be correct in its complaint that the association should not have declared an impasse, both parties must go back to the table and resume negotiations. If the ruling is in favor of the teacher’s association, the matter goes to arbitration.
Allen said an arbitrator can also order both sides to try again before ruling.
“The arbitrator can say, ‘I want you to go back and you can have three weeks to try to reach an agreement’ or ‘Do some fact finding to allow you to find other ways to settle this,'” Allen said.
In most cases, arbitrators are called in to settle one or two final matters, but not the whole contract. For example, Allen said the district is involved in arbitration with the food services union on the one issue they couldn’t reach consensus on – salary.
— A starting teacher with no experience and a bachelor’s degree earns $28,446 before taxes.
— A teacher with 20 years or more of experience and a master’s degree plus 32 credits is paid $52,224 a year.
— A teacher with a doctorate earns $52,724.
— All teachers also receive health, accident insurance and retirement pay.
— There are 458 teachers in Douglas County School District.