The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday gave the go-ahead for district employees to vote on next year's salary package.
The Collaborative Bargaining Team released the proposed package at the end of May. The package includes next year's salaries, as well as changes to health benefits, extra-duty or stipend payments and revisions to the annual leave policy.
The package was scheduled to be presented to teachers and staff at two district schools Tuesday and at the other two schools today.
All district employees will vote on the package Thursday.
If employees approve the package, the School Board will ratify it to make it official. If the package is not approved by a majority of any of the employee groups, the CBT will reconvene and draft another proposal for another vote.
At the School Board's Monday meeting, Strawberry Park Elementary School teacher Don Schwartz said he was concerned that the CBT did not follow its policy about communicating the bargaining process to teachers and staff.
For example, summaries of meetings were not posted to a Web site, and there was not a hotline for staff, he said. All of those actions are required in the policy that he said he and others devoted hours to writing.
School Board President Paula Stephenson and member Pat Gleason said that the issue was not a failure of the School Board, but rather a failure of the entire CBT.
"This is not a failure of this board by any stretch," Gleason said.
The bargaining team met its goal of presenting a package to staff for a vote before the end of the school year, Superintendent Donna Howell said.
Stephenson suggested that everyone involved with the bargaining team, which includes some teachers, support staff, administrators and board members, discuss the bargaining policy at the next scheduled meeting, which is in August.
At that time, everyone on the team should be given a handbook and a copy of the communications policy. Stephenson also suggested that one person should be designated to make sure policies are followed.
Schwartz said he was concerned that teachers had to vote on a package this week that he thought had not been properly communicated.
Mike Johnson, a teacher involved with the Steamboat Springs Education Association, said the School Board should be a keeper of the documents and policies and should be responsible and accountable for organizations following those policies.
Stephenson said the failure was caused, in part, by a change in facilitators. The facilitator now is paid simply to facilitate meetings. In previous years, Howell said, staff members who facilitated the bargaining team also distributed minutes and agendas and made sure policies were followed.
Still, Howell said she thought representatives shared information about the bargaining process as the package was developed.
"I believe we fulfilled the spirit of the communication (policy)," she said, even if exact procedures were not followed.
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