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New union president expresses hope for contract settlement

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
December 6, 2007
— The new president of the Janesville public school teachers union said he’s not out to change directions in contract negotiations with the school board.

Sam Loizzo said, however, that he hopes for a settlement of the overdue contract.


Teachers voted for union leaders Tuesday. The results were released today.


Loizzo defeated Dave Parr, who has been president of the Janesville Education Association for the past five years.


“I can’t thank Dave Parr enough for all the years he’s given and all the hours he’s put in and his dedication to the JEA,” Loizzo said.


Loizzo, a social studies teacher at Craig High School, will take office in January. The term lasts one year.


Meanwhile, Loizzo plans to meet with the union’s negotiating team. He said he’s been keeping tabs on negotiations, but he knows he has much to learn.


“I hope my learning curve is fast enough for those people, so hopefully I can contribute to a settlement,” he said.


The team won’t change, Loizzo said. Parr and Jennifer Fanning are co-lead negotiators and will remain so.


“I didn’t run to second-guess our team; that’s for sure,” Loizzo said. “I ran to help out any way I can.”


Loizzo made a point of saying he’s well acquainted with many of the key players. Parr was a student of his. Superintendent Tom Evert was his principal. He has known several school board members for years. He even taught some of their children.


“I think it’s a teacher-friendly board,” although not everyone agrees, Loizzo said. “Hopefully, with communication lines opened up, we can get that contract settled.”


Negotiators are scheduled to meet Friday, but the two sides have not indicated they are close to resolving their differences.


Loizzo said he is optimistic about relations with the board, with his fellow teachers and with the community.


“It’s not that I have an ax to grind. It’s not that I’m trying to take anything away from anybody,” he said of his candidacy.


Loizzo said he has been considering running for president for several years. He has been active in the union and said he wants to give back by serving.


One of his top goals is to get more of the younger teachers involved in their union, he said.


Loizzo has taught at Craig since 1975. He has served as the union’s vice president, on its executive board and in other leadership posts.


Jim Gallup, a former president of the union, said he hadn’t heard any discontent with Parr’s leadership.


“I think Dave put every ounce of effort into it,” Gallup said. “I think he has the JEA members’ best interests at heart.”


“I have known Sam for many years. I think he’ll do an excellent job,” Gallup said of Loizzo.


The JEA president doesn’t have many of the powers that a chief executive has in a business or in government, Gallup noted, so even if Loizzo had plans for big changes, he couldn’t make them on his own.


Big decisions always go through the union’s executive board, and the biggest questions are often taken to a representative assembly for discussion, Gallup said.


Teacher Kim Sherry, who was in charge of counting the vote, said 462 of the approximately 840 members voted. Sherry would not reveal the vote total, which is standard practice.


“It wasn’t a landslide. It wasn’t 2 to 1,” Sherry said, declining to comment further.



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