Following the list of items tabled by the Union, it is the Board’s view that indeed most if not all of them are reasonable, and deserve to be addressed amicably due to their sensitive nature. To address this to the letter while still ensuring maximum levels of discipline, professionalism and satisfaction for all stakeholders is a delicate balancing act. This presents a give-take scenario that calls for sacrifice for the benefit of everyone. The Board team went through the list, and after an elaborative deliberation, came up with the following response:
Snow days shall be considered for 12-month employees. However, these shall not be exclusively granted to this category of employees, rather everyone apart from those offering ‘essential’ services. These shall be done by building the days into the academic calendar, a step motivated more by safety concerns. The Board feels this might lead to a significant loss of instructional time, which should, therefore, have to be made up for. Arrangements for this shall be made across various departments.
Regarding the request for one day emergency leave that if unused goes away, the Board has no objection to this item and agrees that emergencies cannot be avoided in one’s day-to-day life. However, it shall be granted as a different package. It is the Board’s opinion that this could be categorized under Personal Business Leave (PLB), where teachers are entitled to three days of such leave. This is in accordance with state law. Such a development would make the number of days in this bracket to total to four, thus, all terms and conditions shall be applicable. In spite of a state law provision for deduction of a substitute teacher cost, all four days can still be provided at full pay (Fischer, Schimmel, & Stellman, 2003). As to the clause of the day going away if unutilized, it is important to note that contract language currently automatically credits the accumulated sick leave account with respect to PBL days that are not used during a particular year. Despite this, unused days in this category would not be allowed to accumulate as PBL for the subsequent year, given the liberal manner in which this kind of leave is used (Lambin & Fagan, 2012). The Board feels the need to stress the sacred nature of student/teacher contact time, which should be maximized by all means and not diminished. Due to the uncertainties of life, and basing its understanding on the fact that emergency is what motivated the tabling of this item, the Board grants that one shall be allowed to, at will, split this one day from the rest of the PBL days.
The Union tabled a request to have Personal and Sick leave be taken by the hour. The Board feels this, if granted, would be faced with technicalities since such leaves are necessitated by need, a factor independent on the official schedule (Seddon & Cooper, 1863). For instance, a teacher who takes sick leave in the morning and expects to be in class in the afternoon with his students has no certainty that he will have felt better by that time. In addition, a Personal leave with such terms would be used too liberally, affecting student/teacher contact time. The Board, therefore, rejects this and advises all to work with the current provisions of Personal and Sick leave.
Concerning comp time for employees being taken at their request and not as sick leave, it was observed that there exists a current bill in its final stages that if passed, will take care of this. The Board did not have much to discuss on this item. All are advised to await the progress of this legislation since all stakeholders, even from the umbrella Workers Union were involved in its drafting. It may, however, be revisited later.
The Board found it only reasonable that there be no job description change without posting an opening. This would indeed ensure efficiency and thus increase performance through adequate preparation and exposure. There shall be no pay rise without prior agreement or discussion. This way, employees would be satisfied and motivated (Thompson & Crampton, 2008). It would also be easier to avoid future wage conflicts and resulting stand-offs associated with labor unrest.
Bus monitors shall only be required to pass a physical once prior to their placement. Afterwards, there shall be no need to conduct such, unless anyone doubts the monitors’ ability to handle their duty, especially on health grounds. The Board feels that a motivated workforce is important for maximum output, and would not want employees to be uncertain on their job security in case they fail (physical) tests (Ferrie, 1999). Monitors may transport students, but their terms of pay shall not change. Board members were of the view that irrespective of whom they transport, they would still be doing their work.
The Board is in agreement to have Activity Trips signed up for after which they shall be assigned on a rotating basis. The order of signing up for this shall be used in assigning such that absent drivers are skipped till the next time. This would increase competence and devotion levels. Lastly, the board would love to provide all the financial information as requested by the Union. However, due to technical issues, that is not possible at the moment. All are advised to visit our secretariat desk any time to be issued with relevant documentation. In order to foster accountability and transparency, our desire is to make such information available.
It was agreed that, after this communication, there shall be a two weeks period to allow for anyone to raise their grievances. However, this should be done following the laid down procedures and through the right channels. It is important that a harmonious environment be maintained all the time.
Confederate States of America., Seddon, J. A., & Cooper, S. (1863). [Report of the Adjutant and Inspector General in regard to findings of the general court martial held at headquarters, Richmond, for the month of January, in the cases of persons charged with desertion and absence without leave. Richmond
Crampton, F. E., & Thompson, D. C. (2011). When Money Matters: School Infrastructure Funding and Student Achievement. School Business Affairs, 77(10), 14-18.
Ferrie, J. E., & World Health Organization. (1999). Labour market changes and job insecurity: A challenge for social welfare and health promotion. Copenhagen: World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe.
Fischer, L., Schimmel, D., & Stellman, L. (2003). Teachers and the law. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Lambin, E. F., & Fagan, T. L. (2012). An ecology of happiness.