Burlington Education Association negotiators press for agreement that attracts and retains the best for the city’s students
BURLINGTON -- The Burlington School Board directed its negotiators Thursday night to declare impasse in the contract negotiations with the Burlington Education Association. The Board’s action requires the board and association negotiators to agree upon a mediator or fact-finder and to set a schedule for continuing the collective bargaining process.
Burlington’s teachers are striving to settle a contract that insures the district attracts and retains quality teachers who can provide the city’s students with the quality education they deserve. The teachers hope that a respectful and fair contract can be hammered out without the Board again pushing the parties to the level of crisis experiences this past fall.
Unresolved issues include class size; educational and programming services for Burlington’s diverse student population; language regarding appropriate and equitable elementary school workplace matters; a compensation package that ensures Burlington will attract and retain quality teachers. “A teacher’s working condition is a child’s learning environment,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as BEA president.
Brock said the BEA is hopeful that the School Board will instruct their negotiators to continue working in good faith to resolve the differences. As of now, the BEA’s negotiation team of teachers has been met only with BSD lawyers – members of the board have not met with the association. “All of Burlington’s children not only deserve a quality education, but a rigorous, high-caliber education,” Brock said. “This is crucial if our students are to be prepared to move into the career or college of their choice.”
Greetings on this very snowy afternoon fellow members!
Let me share a few thoughts with you about Monday’s press release from the Burlington School Board about our contract negotiations. For starters, please be assured that despite the tone of the board’s release, our team and the board’s representatives are still at the table bargaining the terms of a contract. We are making progress. We haven’t yet declared impasse.
The board seems intent on picking a public fight over the issue of negotiating in public. Our association has bargained in open session in the past, and we have found from experience that it doesn’t make coming to a contract agreement any easier. In fact, your bargaining team has offered to bargain in public if the entire negotiation process – mediations, fact-finding, etc. – was open to the public. The current school board declined that offer. It is worth noting that the standing board has sent in three different attorneys to do its bargaining, but not a single elected commissioner has participated in negotiations. It is more than a tad ironic that board members want the public to attend negotiation sessions, but not one of the elected board members has yet to attend.
Rather than focus on this issue, we wish members of the board will commit to doing what it takes to avoid a repeat of our last round of negotiations. We have made it clear that we are working toward a contract that will attract and retain the best teachers for Burlington’s students.
Throwing unnecessary lobs – even while the parties make progress – does nothing for the students of Burlington. We urge the board to remain focused on reaching a fair settlement that does right by our students, our schools, the city and us, the professional teachers who are on the front lines directly serving the students.
Burlington's teachers took to the streets on our first float for Burlington's Mardi Gras. The message that we shared was the fact that Burlington's Schools Rock! We hope that everyone enjoyed their shirts. Thank you, Burlington residents, for all of the support that you give your teachers and your schools. Also, thank you to all of our teachers who helped build the float and braved the frigid temperatures to join the parade!
Members of the Burlington Education Association attended two lobbying sessions at the Vermont State House in Montpelier. Members were able to meet with members of the Vermont State Senate and House of Representatives in order to represent the perspective of Burlington's teachers. This is an opportunity for our state's teachers to share about the impacts that policies can have in the classroom.
We are the educators of Burlington, Vermont. We strive daily to build the schools that Burlington's kids deserve.