Sunday, January 27, 2013

Board-Teacher Negotiation Changes Proposed

Here is description of a new bill concerning school board negotiations with teacher associations.  KASB is developing testimony for possible hearings this week.  KASB positions are described below:

HB 2085 was introduced by the House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development on Jan. 24 and referred to that committee.  No hearings have been scheduled at present.  The bill would make several changes to the laws dealing with school board negotiations with teacher associations, and is expected to be highly controversial.
KASB did not request this bill, but it does contain one change adopted by the KASB Delegate Assembly in December as part of the “First in Education” plan: removing teacher evaluation procedures from the mandatorily negotiable items under collective bargaining.  This change was identified by the KASB Legislative Committee and Delegate Assembly as a priority issue for KASB.
In addition, the bill would also allow boards to change the length and number of teaching periods without negotiations, and make it easier for boards to provide different pay for individual teachers.  Both of these issues are supported by long-standing KASB policies, but were not included in this year’s priority goals.  Finally, the bill appears to make negotiations with teachers optional for boards, which goes well beyond positions KASB members have adopted.
The bill appears to address several issues raised by the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force report released last week.  The task force’s sixth recommendation is “Revise/narrow the Professional Negotiations Act to prevent it from hindering operational flexibility/resources assignment.”  This recommendation includes three components: (A) Review tenure (which is not part of professional negotiations and not included in HB 2085); (B) Replace the salary schedule with a salary range based upon various criteria; and (C) Narrow the number of mandatorily negotiable items.
KASB’s legal and labor relations experts explain the following changes contained in HB 2085:
1.  Evaluation Procedures
The bill proposes removal of professional employee appraisal procedures from the terms and conditions of professional service (i.e. mandatorily negotiable). (Pg. 3, Lines 8-9).
KASB Position:  This change would support the KASB “First in Education” goal that boards should be able to make changes in teacher evaluation procedures without negotiating those changes in order to implement new, statewide standards for teacher and administrator evaluation.  The new standards are required by the Kansas State Board of Education’s No Child Left Behind waiver.  KASB believes strengthening evaluation is critical to improving instruction and raising student achievement.  KASB also believes teachers and administrators should have input into the evaluation system outside of the negotiations process.
2.  Length and Number of Teaching Periods
The bill proposes to only include the hours and amounts of work outside of teaching periods to be included in the terms and conditions of professional service (i.e. mandatorily negotiable). (Pg. 3, Lines 1-2)  The bill further clarifies this point by specifically stating the length and number of teaching periods shall not be included within the meaning of terms and conditions of professional service and shall not be subject to professional negotiation. (Pg. 4, Lines 1-4)
KASB Position:  Although not part of the “First in Education” plan, KASB does have a policy stating mandatory topics should be limited to compensation, fringe benefits, hours and amounts of work, leaves, and number of holidays.  In addition the “First in Education” resolution advocates changes to encourage more efficient use of district resources to improve student learning.
3.  Exclusive Representation for Individual Teachers
The bill proposes to remove the exclusive representative from the PNA by stating that a representative may represent any of the  professional employees in the unit at the discretion of each professional employee. (Pg. 4, Lines 17-20)  The bill states that professional employees, individually or collectively, are allowed to enter into an agreement covering terms and conditions of professional service with the board.  (The bill does not specifically state they will be entering into the agreements with the board.  This may need to be clarified). (Pg. 4, Lines 23-26)
The bill also states that no provision of the section shall prohibit a professional employee from representing themselves in negotiation with the board and no provision of any agreement between a professional employees’ organization and the board will be imposed on a professional employee unless the employee is a member of the organization and the employee does not negotiate on his or her own behalf. (Pg. 5, Lines 21-30)
KASB Position:  Although not part of the “First in Education” plan, KASB has a long-standing policy that boards should have the authority to determine pay based on performance.  However, this change would appear to go far beyond the issue of “merit” or differential pay by having boards negotiate entirely separate contracts with individual teachers, which is not addressed in KASB policies and would raise a number of practical procedural issues.
4.  Optional Negotiations
The bill proposes to make negotiations with the professional employees’ organization voluntary instead of mandatory.  (Pg. 8, Lines 12-16)
KASB Position: This change goes beyond positions adopted by KASB members, and has not been formally discussed by our membership.
5.  Other Issues
It should be noted these changes would generally allow school boards to choose whether to use the new flexibility granted by the bill.  Boards would have the option of continuing to negotiate over evaluation procedures and teaching periods or to engage in negotiations, so board members will have determine how to vote on these matters.
KASB will continue to analyze the implications of HB 2085 and discuss our positions and concerns with legislators and our peer organizations.  We welcome your questions and comments.

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