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Board Bulletin - March 2010

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MSBA's Board Bulletin for March 2010

Text of Board Bulletin - March 2010

  • In this issue... l District Collective Bargaining Policy Found Unconstitutional l District Could Legally Discipline Student for Off-Campus Electronic Threat l Spring Meeting Schedule l District Spotlight - Neosho R-V l A Reminder When Non-Renewing Teachers

    MSBAMarch 2010Volume 8, Number 3Missouri school Boards associationCarters Comments

    I f y o u r b o a r d o f e d u c a t i o n a n d a d m i n i s t r a t i o n a r e not looking at some s i g n i f i c a n t b u d g e t cuts for the next fiscal year, you are among the fortunate few in Missouri. The state

    revenue situation is dismal. Local property tax collections are declining in some areas of the state. Its not a pretty picture for public schools in Missouri right now and things may not improve much, even when the economy recovers.

    Now more than ever, those of you serving on local school boards are a critical part of the budgeting process. Not only do you make the ultimate decision about budget reductions, you also play an important communication role in explaining your decisions to your patrons.

    The process you use to determine your budget priorities is key. Its essential that your process involve conversations with stakeholders and that it is perceived as rational. We talk a lot in our workshops about data-driven decision-making. Now is the time to use data to evaluate programs based on their impact on student achievement. Its much easier to make your case for budget reductions if you can demonstrate how programs do or do not positively impact student achievement.

    Unfortunately, there are people and organizations ready to take advantage of our financial challenges by making unrealistic and misleading claims about generating additional revenue for our school district. Its understandable that you want to look for every conceivable way to generate additional revenue and minimize potential budget cuts. I simply urge you to be careful and check out those who may be trying to take advantage of your stress.

    You can learn more about our current financial situation and how some school districts are managing their budgets by watching Weathering the Financial Storm, a web cast produced by MSBA, the Missouri Association of School Administrators and the Missouri Association of School Business Officials. The free video program will be posted on MSBAs Education Solutions Global Network at www.esgn.tv by March 17.

    (Continued on next page)

    Senate Leader Wants to Fully Fund the Foundation FormulaSenate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) says the legislature should find

    a way to fully fund the school foundation formula for the next fiscal year, even if that means deeper cuts in other programs. Sen. Shields made the remarks during the 2010 MSBA Legislative Forum held on February 16 in Jefferson City. The Senate leader told the audience, I think the legislature made a commitment and we need to uphold that commitment.

    The General Assembly would have to find an additional $87 million elsewhere in the state budget in order to fully fund the phase in of the new foundation formula, which is the main state aid program for Missouris public schools. Shields said some additional cuts might have to come from the so-called categorical programs such as transportation and career ladder, but that at least some of the additional funding would have to come from areas in the proposed state budget other than K-12 education.

    Governor Nixon has proposed an $18 million increase in the foundation formula for the coming year, far less than the amount required under the phase in of the new formula. Nixon also spoke at the Legislative Forum and told the audience he has had to make some difficult budget choices due to rapidly falling state revenue including cuts to corrections, mental health and social services. But he said he was determined not to cut K-12 funding in his proposed budget.

    Another speaker at the Legislative Forum, House Speaker Pro Tem Brian Pratt (R- Blue Springs) said he thinks the House of Representatives will fully fund the formula, but he warned school board members and administrators not to count on getting every dime even if the formula is fully funded due to revenue shortfalls. He added, This year is tough, but I cannot describe how difficult next year will be. He was referring to the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011.

  • Carter D. Ward, Ph.D.MSBA Executive Director

    Were entering into a new world. The money to support everything we have been doing in our schools is not there and may not be there for some time to come. The decisions you make today will have significant implications for the future of your school district. But if you keep focused on maintaining and even improving the education you provide for your students, youll make the right choices.

    Carters Comments continued District Collective Bargaining Policy Found Unconstitutional

    For years the Bayless School District had a policy and practice where teachers elected representatives from each school building to serve on the districts negotiation team. In 2008 the Bayless Education Association (BEA), the local affiliate for the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) collected signature cards requesting that the Board recognize the affiliate as the exclusive representative of the teachers for collective bargaining purposes. After consideration, the Board decided to continue with the past practice of recognizing representatives from each building. When elections were held, not all the elected teacher representatives were members of the BEA.

    BEA sued the district, claiming that the districts process violated the teachers right to collectively bargain under the Missouri constitution because the term collective bargaining presumes exclusive representation by one union. The court refused to rule on whether or not collective bargaining requires exclusive representation, but held that the districts policy was unconstitutional because it established a process of collaborative bargaining, not collective bargaining. The court then ordered the Board to rescind the policy and hold an election where teachers could choose between no representation and BEA.

    In the decision the court specifically distinguished the policy in this case from the policy addressed in Springfield-NEA v. The School District of Springfield, R-12, MSBAs Policy HH (version 2) that allows all teachers in the district to vote on whether or not they would like to be represented by more than one union. The Springfield court found MSBAs policy constitutional, and that decision still stands.

    If a district has a policy or practice similar to the one used by the Bayless School District, the Board may continue to use that policy as long as the teachers are not interested in collective bargaining. However, once district teachers seek to exercise their rights to collectively bargain, MSBA recommends that the districts consult an attorney.

    For more information on Bayless Education Association v. Bayless School District, contact the School Laws Department at 800-221-MSBA (6722).

    Negotiations Should Focus on Student Achievement, says Bargaining Expert

    Its critical that school boards and administrators keep the focus on student achievement during collective bargaining negotiations. Thats according to Ron Wilson, the executive director for the North American Association of Educational Negotiators. He spoke during MSBAs 2010 Labor Relations Pre-Forum on February 15 in Jefferson City.

    Wilson told board members and administrators attending the event that research from states that have had collective bargaining for many years indicates that collective bargaining agreements raise the cost of education children by about 15%, while unions have only a modest effect on student achievement.

    Wilson said preparation is the key to successful negotiations and that its important that boards and

    administrators come to the bargaining table with an open mind, but not an empty mind.

    He stressed that school boards in Missouri are in a unique position to learn from mistakes made in other states since collective bargaining is new to the state. He urged school boards to be cautious about what is included in the first collective bargaining agreement in a school districts since he said, Once things are in a collective bargaining agreement, they tend to stay there.

    A Reminder When Non-Renewing TeachersUnfortunately, many districts are considering non-renewing

    probationary teachers due to financial circumstances. Please remember that probationary teachers must be notified in writing no later than April 15, if they will not receive a new contract from the district. If the teacher is non-renewed for financial reasons, a decrease in enrollment or reorganization of the district, the written notice must state the reason for the non-renewal. If the decision was made for other reasons, the district is only required to provide written reasons upon request.

    For more information regarding non-renewal or reduction in force, see the January edition of MSBAs Missouri School Employment News on MSBAs website at www.msbanet.org.

    Practical Personnel Law Workshop Addresses Timely Topics

    School board members and district personnel gathered in Columbia on February 23rd to attend MSBA annual Practical Personnel Law Workshop. Attendees received valuable training on a number of tricky legal topics including dealing with injured and sick employees, drug testing of employees, the Missouri State High Patrols criminal background check system and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Kelli Hopkins, MSBAs Associate Executive Director for Board Services, also unveiled and explained MSBAs new sample employments contracts.

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