It’s that time of year again when Bay District Schools and the Association of Bay County Educators, the teachers union, meets to discuss teacher contracts. Thursday was the second meeting of many to come.
“If we ever had a year where we sat down and agreed upon everything in the first meeting I would assume we are doing it wrong,” said ABCE President Alexis Underwood.
The lengthy negotiating process between the district and teachers union has begun.
“Logistically they are on one side of the table and we are on the other but we bring snacks for each other, we share chocolate,” said Bay District Schools Communications Director Sharon Michalik.
On the table Thursdays was a discussion about teacher compensation for extra work at newly scored D and F schools. The union also asked for more bereavement days and to include siblings. Also to look into a buy back for unused sick leave for employees. All issues the district said they need to revisit.
“We are not always going to agree but if we come at this with the students and teachers in mind then our heart is in the right place,” said Michalik.
The district agreed to allow the union to speak for ten minutes at teacher orientations. But salary discussion is looming and with this year’s tight budget, teacher raises are uncertain.
“It looks like it went up $3.2 million but the bills went up $3.3 million so that doesn’t equal much. The bay student allocation went up 47 cents a student so that’s obviously not a great pot of money to be looking at for teacher raises,” said Michalik.
Underwood said they understand the cycles of funding but there’s more than one way to make a teacher happy.
“There are things teachers would love to see changed that would reinforce our autonomy in the classroom, give us more control over our future and destiny when it comes to teacher appraisals and what the state mandates that we do,” said Underwood.
The two sides will meet again in a few weeks.