Janesville teachers, board back at table
On Friday afternoon, the Janesville Education Association agreed to meet with the Janesville School Board’s negotiating team Nov. 26.
“We’re very optimistic that we can get something done,” said Dave Parr, the JEA’s president.
Superintendent Tom Evert echoed that sentiment, saying: “Hopefully, this will get us back on track.”
The meeting was the result of a decision at a Friday morning update to the school board, Evert said.
“Right now, the contract rests with the state mediator,” Evert explained.
The JEA’s attorney could not meet with the mediator until after the December holidays, Parr said.
Even though a session with a mediator is scheduled in January, the board and the union can still meet to try work out their differences.
Evert and the school board offered the JEA 13 different meeting opportunities between now and the holidays, and the JEA picked Nov. 26.
“The board offer of Sept. 19 continues to be in place,” Evert said. “The offer is an overall increase in salary and fringe benefits from 2006-07 to 2007-08 of $2.199 million.”
The offer means the board would spend $64.2 million for salaries and benefits for 2007-08.
From 2007-08 to 2008-09, the board would increase spending for salaries and benefits about $2.616 million, resulting in a total of $66.819 million for salaries and benefits.
One of the teachers’ objections to the district’s offer has been that the board wanted the teachers to contribute to their health insurance premiums. Teachers say they have given up bigger pay increases to preserve their benefits and that they already contribute to their health care costs with high co-pays.
Parr declined to talk about the issues that still separate the sides.
“It’s a lot easier if both parties go into the meeting with an open mind, with no preconceived notions,” Parr said.