Disagreements over state statutes may have led to a teacher protest last month involving at least 300 Adams 12 educators and supporters, according to …
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Disagreements over state statutes may have led to a teacher protest last month involving at least 300 Adams 12 educators and supporters, according to written exchanges between the District 12 Educators’ Association and the Adams 12 Five Star Schools district.
At issue are the graduated 1.5 percent pay cuts approved by Adams 12 school board members June 20 to address a projected $12 million budget shortfall during the 2012-2013 school year.
The school board froze pay increases based on years of experience and approved the pay cut, which is slated to increase to 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2013.
The formal grievance, filed on Aug. 23 by teachers’ association (DTEA) president Dorian De Long, accused the Adams 12 school board of violating employee contract provisions and called on the board to rescind employee pay cuts, restore contracted salaries and return to the bargaining table.
“The District and the Board have violated ... provisions of the contract by failing to negotiate with DTEA in good faith, changing salaries guaranteed by the contract… and otherwise ignoring the contractually agreed-upon negotiations process,” De Long said.
Adams 12 Superintendent Chris Gdowski responded four days later, saying teachers’ association negotiations were suspended in May and are not set to resume until August.
He said the school board ultimately made the decision to institute the pay cuts, even though teachers’ salary agreements were not reached before the suspension, because it was mandated by state law to adopt a budget by June 30, using available funds.
De Long disagreed and said Adams 12 had sufficient means “to fund their contractual obligations regarding salary” after it budgeted more than $28 million in additional funds for the general fund than indicated on the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget.
“The negotiations between the district and the DTEA are ongoing,” De Long said in response to Gdowski’s statement. “None of the state laws that you cite give the school board the right to unilaterally impose salaries which are subject to negotiation.”
Gdowski later rejected the grievance on Sept. 7 — two days after the teachers protested in front of the Adams 12 administration building.
Adams 12 board members addressed the pay cuts on the day of the protest and said it was a difficult choice to make.
“We had a lot of trade-offs that we could have made, but we chose the ones we did because it impacts kids the least — that was our bottom line,” Adams school board member Norman Jennings said. “We know it’s going to cause some angst. It’s obvious, but we’re not afraid of it because the kids are more important to us right now. We’re not going to create further budget problems that impact our kids even further later on by taking the easy road now. That is not what we were elected to do.”
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