Teachers Seek Mediation in West Bonner County
Wednesday, August, 19, 2020
The West Bonner County School District Teachers’ Union has requested mediation after walking away from their negotiations with the school board. The board had made one final offer in an attempt to get the teachers on board. The board offered to pay nearly 9 percent of the health insurance increases and offered step salaries and a $500 payment to teachers on the lowest end of the payment schedule.
The union declined the offer and no counteroffer was submitted.
According to Wilma Hahn, representative of the teachers for the union, “We were really hoping that [the board would] give a counter and it really did not have to be major. We do not like this.”
Board Chairman Sandy Brower said there were no funds left to offer more. She cited the governor’s holdback of one percent of education funds for 2020, as well as the five percent holdback for next year. The holdback came after the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on state finances.
Explained Brower, “We do not have extra fund money. We are going into our contingency to give you what you offered and this is our last and best offer because that is all we have. If we had it, we would give it to you.”
The union does not believe this claim and said the board had hundreds of thousands of dollars that are carried over from year to year. The union also asked that raises for teachers be prioritized over tentative projects that are in the works.
The union decided to seek mediation following many conversations with frustrated teachers. A meeting is set to be scheduled once a mediator is found and approved by both sides.