Published DatePerhaps someone at the SAU office should Google the meaning of the word emergency.
The Bartlett school district is asking the court for permission to hold a special school meeting to approve a new teachers’ contract after voters rejected the first agreement in the spring.
“An emergency has arisen,” the district’s attorney said in the petition requesting the meeting. A special meeting is needed to “avoid disharmony to labor-management relations.”
Emergency? What emergency? The board and the teachers' union negotiated a contract that didn’t pass muster with the voters, so the voters rejected it. That’s not an emergency, that’s democracy.
The board invited its own “disharmony,” in fact, when it offered teachers a sweetheart deal that would have pushed some salaries up close to six digits. Bartlett teachers are the best paid teachers in the Valley already, but they wanted more and the board gave it to them. Bartlett residents have endured rising taxes because of the school year after year, and this year voters made it clear they’d had enough.
And how did the Bartlett school board respond? They hired an attorney (at the expense of the taxpayers) who labeled the vote an “emergency” in hopes of getting a second try at forcing a contract through. This time instead of raises the board agreed to hand retiring teachers $4,500 a year for health insurance every year until they reach age 65.
Teachers are often eligible to retire in their 40s. That could amount to $90,000 or more in benefits for someone who doesn’t even work at the school anymore. And that’s one teacher.
“It is demoralizing for Bartlett teachers to be expected to work through the 2012 – 2013 school year without a collective bargaining agreement,” the board’s attorney said in the district’s filing. But it’s also demoralizing for residents to watch elected officials ignore their directives and waste their money.
Raises aren’t free. Special meetings aren’t free. Lawyers and court cases aren’t free. The whole point of this spring’s no vote was to send the message the district needs to better manage taxpayer dollars.
Instead of heeding the message, however, the district veered the opposite direction.
After two losing legal battles in two years (one over the contested 11 percent budget decrease at school meeting in 2011 and the other trying to protect documents about school board member Randy Davison), we would think SAU 9 would be a little more hesitant to rush into court, but alas no. And just like the last two cases, it’s baffling that people with Ph.D.’s could support such ridiculous arguments.
Common sense is apparently not a job requirement for our highest school administrative positions. Hopefully by the time we’re looking for new leadership it will be.