Mediation on the Horizon for Byron School District and Teachers
Monday, January, 22, 2018
The latest budget was unanimously approved in mid-December by the Byron school board members. The board assumed the three unions would accept the wage freeze when they approved the budget, based on contract talks that had taken place the week before the approval.
Under the freeze, each teacher would be given a $500 stipend in the second year of the contract. Since no agreement had been reached thus far between the teachers’ union and the school board after eight sessions of negotiating, both groups agreed to try mediation.
According to Superintendent Dr. Joey Page, "On behalf of the school board, we believe at this time it is in the best interest of teachers and the district to move negotiations forward by petitioning for mediation. We look forward to a collaborative process with the people we value".
The goal of the board is to restore reserves to 8% of unassigned funds - the latest budget approval would achieve that goal by July 2019. As a result of the current situation, property taxes in the district would rise.
Board members explained the situation to community members, some of whom are teachers in the district, at a recent meeting. They stated expenses at the new Primary School, including higher utility bills than anticipated and additional personnel expenses including a new principal and support staff, have used up a large portion of the budget. The costs of substitute teachers also plays a role and costs about $200,000 per year.
Teachers at the meeting ask that the board be transparent – the board claims it has been all along. Now, the groups are headed to mediation to resolve the matter and determine whether or not teachers will receive raises in their upcoming contract.