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Central teachers, district take negotiations online

INDEPENDENCE — The Central School District bargaining teams have taken negotiations public.

Central School District teachers conducted an informational picket in November.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Central School District teachers conducted an informational picket in November.

December 10, 2013

INDEPENDENCE — The Central School District bargaining teams have taken negotiations public.

The school board elected to send a mass email to teachers to clarify the district's stand, then posted that letter on the school's website, superintendent Buzz Brazeau said.

By sending an email to all teachers, Brazeau said the district was trying to clear up rumors and innuendos.

"They wanted to make sure the facts were out there with what they were offering," he said.

Ben Gorman, president of Central Education Association and head of the bargaining team for teachers, said they posted a response on the Central Advocate blogspot.

He said members of the bargaining team did not know the district intended to publish the email on the home page of its website.

"They did not make that clear to us," he said. "They sent it out to all the employees. We thought that was pretty underhanded in itself."

Posting the email on the district website did not give the association an opportunity to respond, Gorman said. Kathleen Stanley offered to allow the CEA team to publish their response on her Central Advocate blog.

"I understand they're trying to put pressure on us," Gorman said.

He added that he doesn't feel the district's letter was completely truthful in its presentation of the numbers.

"We have received 4.75 percent cost of living increases in the last 10 years," Gorman said. "In the same amount of time, inflation has gone up 20 percent. Our people are really far behind."

The district said it is offering a 3 percent COLA increase in 2013-14 and another 2.25 percent for 2014-15, in addition to any eligible step increases.

"The district's proposal is equivalent to or slightly above the total compensation packages provided in comparable districts," the letter states.

In Dallas, both classified and certified staff received 1.75 percent and 1 percent COLA increases, respectively.

Gorman said Central teachers are still paid far less than neighboring districts.

"It's just the increases are up," he said. "It's a deceptive tactic to say we're going to be at or above these other districts."

Gorman declined to give specifics, but said, "Our financial package that we're asking for is actually very close to theirs."

The matter will be taken up by a state mediator sometime in January.

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• Both Brazeau and Gorman expect the issue to be a topic of discussion at the Monday, Dec. 16, school board meeting, originally scheduled for Dec. 9, but delayed because of adverse weather conditions. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Henry Hill Education Support Center.

To read both letters, visit: thecentraladvocate.blogspot.com and www.central.k12.or.us.

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