Nampa teachers union makes no counteroffer

There was no counteroffer made during Tuesday’s Nampa School District negotiations meeting.

Pete Koehler
Interim Nampa Superintendent Pete Koehler

The Nampa Education Association – the local teachers’ union – asked for additional time to survey its members after the district Friday proposed mandating 14 furlough days in 2013-14.

The district’s master agreement proposal, which would have eliminated five school days and added four minutes to each school day, is part of the district’s efforts to cover a shortfall projected at some $3.5 million.

On Tuesday night, union president Mandy Simpson said the district’s proposal could force educators to choose between filling their tanks with gas or taking their children to the doctor.

“We really just need more time,” Simpson told the district’s four-person negotiations team. “We never envisioned a proposal with cuts of this magnitude.”

The meeting, which was attended by 25 people and several reporters, adjourned without an agreement after just more than two hours.

The two sides next meet at the bargaining table at 6 p.m. June 13 at the Nampa School District office.

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But with a July 1 contract deadline looming and the district’s shortfall not getting any smaller, the union did not share any suggestions for balancing the budget.

Instead, the union’s negotiations team asked the district for more information on the calendar, benefits and the impact to students. The union expressed specific concern about having enough time to prepare for Idaho Core Standards, the new math and language arts standards that will be taught next school year for the first time.

“How does the district foresee the impact of 14 furlough days on students?” Simpson asked.

Interim Superintendent Pete Koehler said the district’s offer retained the early release schedule on Wednesdays and allows for the professional learning communities to still meet.

“That is a deep concern of ours,” Koehler said.

During the meeting, district leaders outlined a proposed new calendar to eliminate three school days in May, another in January, and one day each for elementary and secondary schools in November or October.

The remaining furlough days would come through teacher work days when school is not in session, cutting evening parent-teacher conferences in March and eliminating a collaboration day in August.

After the meeting, Simpson said she hopes the union will have a counteroffer to present on June 13, but said her organization is still in the process of surveying teachers about what they would deem acceptable.

The negotiations cover much more than furlough days and the calendar, and some measure of small progress was reached Tuesday on leave and benefits issues.

Simpson did say the union plans to include some furlough days in the counteroffer, which she hopes to have ready by next Thursday’s meeting with the district.

“Nobody wants to be imposed on,” said Simpson, referencing the July 1 contract deadline. “We want to be able to come to an agreement. We’re not dreaming. We know we’re not getting raises.”

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