Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Press Release: Teachers Call on the District to Get Serious About Settling

FYI: This is the press release we sent out today hoping to increase the district's motivation to move toward a fair settlement as soon as possible:

Anoka-Hennepin teachers call on district to ‘get serious’ about settling the contract. Jan.15 deadline looms, with possible $1 million penalty to district

Dec. 8, 2009 – Coon Rapids, Minn. – The 2,900 teachers of the Anoka Hennepin school district are calling on the district to come to the table Dec. 15 ready to settle the teachers’ contract, which expired June 30. Dec. 15 is the next scheduled mediated negotiation session between the teachers and District 11.

“It’s time,” said Sandra Skaar, president of Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota (AHEM), the union that represents the teachers of District 11. “Negotiations are coming down to the wire, and it’s time for the district to get serious about bargaining a reasonable and competitive contract.”

If the contract is not settled by a state-mandated Jan. 15 deadline, a penalty of $1 million ($25 per student) will be assessed to the school district. “After all the work we’ve done to gain community support, that’s a mistake the district cannot afford to make,” Skaar said.

Skaar added that the Dec. 15 bargaining session is the “last, best chance” to get the contract settled and beat the deadline, since getting any settlement ratified by 2,900 teachers in the state’s largest district will take a significant amount of time.

According to AHEM negotiators, other relevant facts in the negotiations process include:

* AHEM teachers took early action and voted to sacrifice staff development funds to save the district nearly $2 million.
* Teachers put in hundreds of hours to help the district pass its levy earlier this fall, which at least helped the district maintain current funding levels.
* Rather than address crucial financial matters, the district has chosen to focus on inflammatory language items in the contract.
* The district has not cut administration at the same rate that it has teachers based on a decline in student population.

“Teachers have done our fair share,” Skaar said. “We want to get this done, and we want to do it right, and on time. The recent levy victory demonstrates how successful we can be when we all work together. We need to settle this contract now so we can get back to our number-one priority — educating the students of Anoka Hennepin.”