Nampa negotiations resume — cordially

After a 20-day hiatus — and after 2013-14 contracts went out to some 835 teachers — the Nampa School District and the local teachers’ union returned to the bargaining table Thursday.

There was no talk about salaries, or the 14 unpaid furlough days imposed by the July 1 contracts. However, as the Idaho Press-Tribune reported Thursday, pay cuts will not affect teachers making Nampa’s minimum salary of $31,750, and this includes about 45 percent of teaching staff.

With these difficult financial issues off the table, Thursday’s session was also much more low-key and much less emotional. When the sides last met on June 28, a frustrated Nampa Education Association President Mandy Simpson accused the district of disrespecting her, and union negotiators, by refusing to budge on fiscal issues.

“Today, definitely (had) a whole different feel,” Simpson said afterwards.

It wasn’t just the tone that was different.

Negotiators made some progress, reaching tentative agreement on two items: the makeup of “district solutions teams” that may be convened to address financial crises or other problems in schools; and the district’s Employee Assistance Program.

Still on the docket are some unresolved issues.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our weekly newsletter »

One is short-term disability. The district wants to make short-term disability an opt-in program, at a potential savings of $235,000. The union would prefer a sick leave “bank,” that employees can choose to join, with Simpson saying the bank could save the district money. District negotiators said they would consider the proposal.

Another unresolved issue is the union’s “association rights:” use of district buildings for meetings, or the use of school mailboxes and district email to communicate with members.

The district’s next negotiation session is set for July 24.