Thursday November 06, 2014
Now that the South Burlington teacher strike has ended, a three-year contract (ending June 30, 2017) has been ratified, life for parents, students and teachers has been back to business as usual. Classes, sports, co-curricular activities, and community healing have resumed in earnest following the first strike in the district’s history .
The negotiations between the SBEA and the school board were ongoing for nearly ten months when seasoned mediator Joe McNeil was brought in to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. After a marathon negotiating session October 19, a settlement was ratified October 20. The settlement calls for an increase in the employee share of health care premiums from 16 to 17 percent in the final two years of the contract period as well as an adjustment of 8.01 percent in total compensation (net of the increased healthcare contributions) over three years.
Although the primary issues that surfaced throughout the strike and subsequent negotiations involved teacher salaries and benefits, school administrators were also forced to consider how and when to make up the missed days of instruction. During negotiations, Superintendent David Young expressed concern for make up days and that future events might need to be altered in order to accommodate them, such as shifting the graduation date.
According to Vermont State Statute: “at least one hundred seventy-five student attendance days are required in each school year and at least five teacher in-service education days, during which time activities shall be conducted without students present in order to increase the competency of the staff, improve the curriculum of the school, enable teachers to attend state educational meetings or disseminate student progress information to parents or the community.”
After deliberating about the best way to proceed, Superintendent Young sent a letter to parents and guardians dated October 24 notifying them that the two make up days will be Monday, March 2, and Tuesday, March 3, 2015. This will shorten the mid-winter break which was originally scheduled from February through March 3. To meet the Vermont statute, teachers and para-educators will have an additional professional development day at the end of the year.
Young wrote, “We understand that the decision to shorten winter break may disrupt family plans but hope that this advance notice will mitigate some of that impact. This plan presents the best possible alternative, as it allows for time to made up during the school year.”
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent