“I think that our biggest issue is the proposal doesn’t really value the effort and time that our current staff have put into the education of our children,” said long-time Haines teacher and the president of the Haines Education Association Lisa Andriesen.
Andrisen is not one of the three certified staff negotiating team members, who represent 23 teachers in the Haines School District.
Those three teachers have been meeting with school district representatives since mid-February to negotiate a two-year contract. On May 18th, they finalized a draft agreement, which the teachers took the union. Andriesen says the union overwhelmingly voted “no” on the contract the negotiating team had accepted. The main issue, she says, is pay.
“We’ve had a lot of staff turnover the last few years and we felt the proposed contract isn’t something that would encourage teachers to stay for long in our district,” Andriesen said. “And we know that that’s detrimental to a child’s education to have turnover of staff.”
“We don’t know their specific concerns, the letter they gave us was very general,” said School Board President Anne Marie Palmieri, who is on the district negotiating team. Palmieri declined to respond to Andriesen’s comments, because negotiations are ongoing.
Andriesen sent the board an email May 22nd saying the proposed contract is in conflict with the district plan to “attract and retain” staff.
“The proposed salary schedule does little to keep up with inflation, and will do little to incentivize remaining in the HBSD,” Andriesen’s email said.
Palmieri and Andriesen would not give details about the proposed salary schedule or other things like benefits, insurance, and personal leave. Andriesen says one way she thinks the proposed salaries are lacking is they don’t compensate teachers for professional development certifications.
“The changes to the salary scale would almost turn our school into a training ground for our teachers that after a certain point it would be more worth their while to leave the district and go elsewhere,” Andriesen said.
The new contract’s start date would be July 1 of this year. There are no negotiation meetings currently scheduled.
Palmieri says she would like to see the contract in place by mid-August, when teachers start in-service days. Andriesen says when negotiations start again depends on peoples’ schedules. Teacher Darwin Feakes is the negotiating leader for certified staff, and he is out of town.
According to school administration, the district is facing a more than $200,000 budget shortfall next year. Andriesen says tight budgets have swayed teachers to compromise in the past. But not this year.
“We’ve had this trust in the district and have been trying to work with them,” Andriesen said. “But then the numbers are never accurate for what they say. In the spring they say there’s nothing, we’re gonna have big cuts. And then we find out that there is a lot of money.”
Andriesen says a contract reflects how much the community values its teachers, and right now, it doesn’t reflect that.
While the certified contract is stalled, the classified contact has been agreed on. That contract covers people like para-educators, food service personnel, and administrative assistants. It includes salary increases which Palmieri says range between about five percent and 11 percent. There are also more personal days depending on length of service, increased reimbursement for continuing education, and an agreement to split any potential insurance rate increases.
Palmieri says the classified contract will cost around $45,000 more out of the district’s general fund than what was originally budgeted.