Board of education, teachers negotiate contract agreement
At the June 22 meeting of the Carbon County Board of Education, officials announced that the school district and the teachers association had reached a contract settlement in one day of negotiations.
"We met on Monday and that was the first time I know of that the two sides settled in one day in Carbon district," said Jim Thompson, president of the Carbon County Education Association.
Board of education members, too, were impressed with the fast settlement.
"I just have to say that it was a first and I am pleased," said school board member Jim Leonard who had headed up the negotiating team for the district.
The settlement, compared to many recent years, seemed to be a good one to many people. However, it still must be ratified by the CCEA's membership.
The agreement calls for a 4 percent increase for teachers base (steps and lanes) and a one time supplements of 3 percent that will be paid in the fall.
The school district will pick up the tab to cover the increased cost in health insurance next year, which will reportedly amount to approximately $360,000.
In addition, the settlement also included items concerning in-state and out-of-state travel restrictions, apportionment of money saved by closing East Carbon High that will go to various schools in the district.
There was also some adjustment to the bereavement policy. In addition, the district and the association will set up an early retirement committee.
The board voted to approve the settlement pending approval by the CCEA membership. It was pointed out that any of the benefits of the negotiations would be carried over to other district staff and the administration as well.
In an unrelated business matter, the board considered travel requests for next year from various Carbon High School athletic departments.
The review brought up issues that had been discussed almost every time the board looked at travel for groups in the last year.
Of concern for some board members is the cost of travel, the times of year that students are traveling and whether some of the out-of-state events are really necessary.
"I realize that the money for transportation is special money just for that, but it is still taxpayers money that is being spent," said board member Debbie Blackburn during the discussion. She was especially concerned about travel to Las Vegas, Nev., in August for the school's volleyball team and a trip by the wrestling team to Reno, Nev., in December.
Another issue concerned the fact that the football team had requested buses to transport students to a football camp at Snow College on July 15-16. Generally the school district does not provide transportation for summer camps, but in this case the superintendent said he supported it because there were between 50-60 students going to it and that for safety reasons the administration felt more comfortable with them being transported by school bus than by private cars.
The coaches that had made the request on all of the travel items were not present at the meeting, but both assistant superintendent Doug Hintze and Leonard, who is an assistant football coach at Carbon, explained the situations involved.
The discussion about the travel issue centered on two things. The first was whether teams should really go outside the state to play games and attend meets.
It was pointed out by a couple of those present that Carbon has played schools in Grand Junction literally forever in terms of schools history. As for the trips to Las Vegas and Reno, supporters said that the volleyball tournament in the southern Nevada city was one of the premier tournaments in the nation and that with Carbon's volleyball tradition they should be represented there. It was also pointed out that the wrestling meet in Reno is considered the biggest and best in the nation and that to compete with the best schools in Utah (many of which send teams to that meet each year) Carbon needs to have the experience there.
The other issue was supporting camps in any way, shape or form. Some members of the board were concerned that the idea of providing transportation for some summer activities while not others could create problems. It was pointed out that the district had done that with big groups like the football team before, such as those going to the Salt Lake Airport for flights for choral and band events.
The board, after about 15 minutes of discussion decided to support all the travel requests on the agenda, but also said that they would be studying a better way to approve travel for schools rather than each school and each activity having to come to them for approval.
A suggestion was made that the district might approve a travel budget for schools and leave it up to each schools administration on how to administer the money.
That suggestion seemed to be supported by most of the board and they committed to look at that possibility for upcoming years.