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Chase gives overview of what has led school district and teacher's union to impasse

GRANDVIEW - Monday night's Grandview School Board meeting had a large attendance of Grandview Education Association (GEA) members to exhibit their unified feelings regarding the current contract impasse with the school district.

In response to the attendance, the school board made a decision to allow Superintendent Kevin Chase to present his superintendent's report early in the meeting.

Chase outlined the events leading to the current impasse by first stating that the 2006-07 contract negotiations began in March of 2006. He quoted correspondence between himself and the GEA chair, saying the union had just one point of interest in 2006.

"This year was different," said Chase.

He stated that he began correspondence in January 2007, suggesting training for collaborative bargaining processes due to the fact that the training had not taken place in seven to eight years. In his letter, he said he felt the training could improve the ability to achieve a productive and collaborative negotiating season.

The response Chase was met with stated that the bargaining team did not feel the training was necessary.

In February, Chase asked the GEA president what was happening with the calendar for bargaining and the response was to have Chase communicate with the GEA chair because the bargaining team would be working on the calendar.

The GEA told Chase they would bring the issue to the "table" when negotiations began.

The development of the calendar, according to Chase, is usually complete by the end of March to ensure staff could make plans around the scheduled dates on the calendar. He wrote to the GEA expressing the various reasons for the need of the calendar and the calendars were not yet available by May.

When the GEA and the school district did finally meet in May, the GEA had 33 proposals and the school district had 18.

The first proposal dealt with the duration of the agreement reached for the new contract. The Grandview School District proposed a three-year agreement and the GEA proposed a one-year agreement.

"There isn't any agreement (yet)," Chase said.

The two entities were able to agree on the proposed language of use of staff bulletin boards in staff lounges, citing that the GEA could post association "business" on the employee bulletin boards, and the postings would include the name of the authorizing association representative.

The GEA struck a proposal made by the district to have annual training for "Interest Based Bargaining."

Another issue proposed by the district, under the "Weingarten Laws," was to change language allowing a staff member to have counsel present for formal questioning. The GEA agreed with the stipulation of taking out this language because a union representative is allowed under the law.

Several other issues were agreed upon and the district was pleased with those agreements, according to Chase.

He said the overload calculations and evaluations are still issues needing agreement.

When the district reviewed the GEA proposal on Aug. 22, 2007, the district informed the union it could not accept "all" of the proposal. But, the GEA was unwilling to work on the individual issues, as the district had asked to do.

In response, the GEA informed certified staff members via email that the district did not provide a proposal, but informed them that the district has decided to file for mediation.

The district has offered several items in its proposal, including 12 days of extra pay over the course of a three-year contract, extra money to help pay insurance premiums for out-of-pocket costs and costs for Health Care Authority retiree subsidees for GEA members, extra pay for extracurricular work and extended days in addition to the 12 days previously mentioned, double the amount of reimbursement for instructional materials paid for out of pocket, more extra days for elementary librarians and counselors and extended days for staff developers.

Following Chase's presentation, GEA president Jamie Downing read a letter to the school board bringing to issue the class size at Grandview Middle School, compensation for hours beyond contract hours and fair evaluations.

Downing told the school board that there are 198 sections (combined class periods) taught at the middle school and 42 of those classes have more than 28 students.

She informed the board members that the GEA "...does not take mediation lightly."

Chase, later told the Daily Sun News that 13 classes at Grandview Middle School have more than 28 students in them and a total of six physical education classes have 30 or 31 students. "93 sections have less than 25 students in them," he countered.

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