Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Impasse gives false impression

June 22, 2006

For the past 11 months, many teachers, administrators and elected officials have probably found themselves in an uncomfortable position as the district and its teachers engaged in a prolonged attempt to reach settlement on a teachers' contract for the 2005-2006 school year.

It is the unfortunate nature of that process to create an adversarial relationship between the teachers and the district's administration and board. Despite the public stances of both groups, at bottom they are in agreement teachers are in general underpaid and that the district's teachers -- whose excellence was documented when every school in the district obtained a standard of excellence on 2005 state achievement tests -- deserved more. Associations representing both sides advocate for just that every year in the Kansas Legislature.

What divided them was how to distribute what extra money the state did provide with the teachers saying more was available to them and the board holding the position that wasn't the case when the district's big picture was considered. In the end, the state arbitrator basically agreed the board could best make that decision.

The push-pull of the negotiations shouldn't mask the reality that teachers and administrators continued to work together in the last year -- in old and new ways -- to improve the quality of education in the district. The negotiations may have been a yearlong story, but it wasn't the only story.

With the dispute resolved with the bonus of a year of labor peace, that cooperation can take center stage.

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