May 14, 2009

Garrison board, teachers set fast pace toward salary negotiations

Garrison board, teachers set fast pace toward salary negotiations
When your negotiator is paid $195 an hour, the meeting starts on time and moves along like a 4th grader racing to recess.
The Garrison School Board decided in March to hire Gary Thune, attorney for the North Dakota School Board Association, to negotiate a salary contract with the Garrison Education Association (GEA), the negotiating body for the professional staff. Thune was hired at the $195 per-hour rate to streamline the negotiation process and to help the board avoid liability landmines in a process that had the potential to take several months of meetings, board members reasoned.
Time was money at the May 6 meeting. Within three minutes the ground rules between Garrison teachers and the school board, which had been reviewed by both groups prior to the meeting, were agreed upon. In the past, that process sometimes took a full meeting to reach agreement.
What had been in the past a waltz with a few dips and turns to get to the cash bar, now took on the pace of a fox trot with several fast turns.
The negotiator spoke at a brisk clip, both sides were prepared and within the first half-hour both sides had presented their proposals.
The teachers’ wish list, presented by Dan Splichal, included a pay increase of the same percentage as new teachers would be offered, plus a request to receive compensation for the three-block travel for teachers who transfer between buildings. Other members of the GEA negotiating team were: Cory Volk, Collette Gehring and Lori Betz. Teachers observing the meeting were Sue Hendrickson, Kim Gehring and Darlene Ruud.

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