A formal grievance alleging policy violations by the Steamboat Springs School Board has prompted a special meeting to be held next week.
The grievance, submitted to the School Board on Monday by Steamboat Springs Education Association President Brad Kindred, charges the School Board with multiple policy violations during the course of the past year.
The alleged violations include a School Board decision declaring the Knowledge and Skills Based Pay system unaffordable for the district -- a decision the grievance states was made without using the collaborative bargaining process.
The teachers association previously has expressed its belief that negotiated policies were violated by the School Board, but Monday's grievance was the first formal action taken by the SSEA, which represents the majority of certified district teachers.
The grievance was the subject of a lengthy executive session toward the end of Monday's regularly scheduled School Board meeting.
After emerging from the executive session, School Board member Michael Loomis read a motion stating that the School Board recognized the concerns and complaints presented by the SSEA. The motion also outlined specific School Board actions in response to the grievance, including the scheduling of a special executive session to be held next Monday to discuss the concerns and complaints. The School Board also will schedule a meeting of the Collaborative Bargaining Team "to select a neutral facilitator and schedule future meetings," according to the motion.
Using a facilitator to mediate the collaborative bargaining process is one of several demands made by the SSEA as it and the district look to begin negotiating another collaborative bargaining agreement. The existing collaborative bargaining agreement between the district and its employees is set to expire at the end of the school year, and it remains unclear what process will be used to try to establish another agreement. The SSEA and the School Board have expressed a desire to continue using the collaborative bargaining process, though the teachers association has demanded several changes to the process, including the use of a facilitator and the assurance that negotiated policies are legally binding.
At the heart of the issue is whether the School Board has followed a policy that states no negotiated policies can be changed without using the collaborative bargaining process.
Teachers are upset that a pay system designed to use a rigorous evaluation tool to determine individual teacher salaries was scrapped by the School Board after it concluded that a financial analysis found the system to be too expensive.
The Knowledge and Skills Based Pay system is outlined in a negotiated policy agreed to by district staff and the School Board in 2001. In addition to declaring the Knowledge and Skills Based Pay system unaffordable without using the collaborative bargaining process, the School Board has selectively chosen to continue to work on and implement other aspects of the negotiated policy, according to the SSEA.
School Board members previously have denied violating negotiated policies, but Monday's formal grievance appears to have motivated them to take a closer look at whether any violations occurred.
"We understand the SSEA has significant concerns, and we're going to discuss those further," School Board member Tami Havener said. "The policies are created to be followed, and we need to be sure that's happening."
The School Board will seek a legal opinion on whether negotiated policies have been followed, she said.
About 40 teachers attended Monday's meeting, and several addressed the School Board directly about their concerns with a lack of trust and honesty between the School Board and district employees.
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org