UPDATE ON CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

UPDATE ON CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE OWEN J. ROBERTS SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE ROBERTS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

March 26, 2013

The existing Teachers’ Contract between the Owen J. Roberts School District and the Roberts Education Association (“REA”), which represents the teachers in the District, expired on June 30, 2012.  Negotiations between the parties began in January 2012 and have continued throughout this school year. Most recently the parties have been actively meeting in small group under direction of the State Mediators.

Today the REA negotiating team directed its members to work to contract. This action asks the professional staff to work only to the contractually obligated hours, and asks their members to not participate in any non-contractual activities.  Although disappointing, work to contract is a relatively routine action during prolonged contract negotiations.  The administration and the School Board will do its best to ensure that the education offered to our students will not change, although we may feel the impact as our professional teaching staff withdraw from non-contractual activities.  If this occurs, we are committed to minimizing any inconvenience and disruption to our students.

To date, the parties have reached agreement on a number of important contract issues involving working conditions. Unfortunately, however, because of the statutory Act 1 cap on school district expenditures, coupled with a declining tax base due to assessment appeals and rapidly increasing pension costs, coming to an economic compromise on wages and healthcare has been challenging as the REA continues to seek an unsustainable multi-year contract with the District.

For its part, in January the District proposed a comprehensive multi-year contract proposal which would provide the teachers salary increases in each year of the contract as well as an enhancement in the current healthcare program currently offered. The District’s offer values the work performed by our teaching staff and assures that our educational programs and offerings can be maintained into the future despite the challenging economic environment that we all face.

We are disappointed by the REA leadership team’s work to contract directive to their members.  Ultimately, the REA leadership and the District will come to an agreement built on collaboration and compromise recognizing the financial challenges our District is facing. The Owen J. Roberts School Board is committed to keeping our community informed and will provide additional updates as warranted throughout this process.

Respectfully,

Douglas K. Hughes

President, Owen J. Roberts Board of School Directors