Two weeks ago, the Carmel Clay School Board declared an impasse with new teacher contract negotiations.
Karen Taff, teacher here and member of the Carmel Clay Education Administration’s negotiating team, said disagreement over the financial package was the key conflict.
“In a broad sweep, that would include issues of salary, insurance, that sort of thing,” Taff said. “The teachers believe that the package that we put forward is something that is based on the ability of the school board to pay.”
The negotiation process will receive a mediator to work out the financial package. Teachers have been working without a contract since June 30. However, according to school board president Stephen Backer, teachers only need a majority of approval in the parties’ discussion.
For those students who remember TWAC (Teachers Want A Contract) and the last contract battle, the struggle was a prolonged situation that affected many students here. Hopefully, this impasse will be resolved soon so we won’t have to resort to pulling out the signature green and orange TWAC buttons again.
We can recall that last time, teachers without contracts weren’t paid for their overtime – and as a result, some clubs were discontinued and teachers couldn’t offer their students before or after school support.
Taff said that negotiations for the last contract lasted for 18 months; so far, negotiations have been continuing for 5 months. “I think that one of the things that is a marked difference at least on the outset of this negotiation process was there was an emphasis placed on a collaborative bargaining framework, and we did throughout May and June,” Taff said.
Backer also feels that there is less animosity in the current contract debate than the last. “We think a great deal of the teachers and what they do and hope this can be resolved quickly,” Backer said.
If we are to have another TWAC battle, it shouldn’t spill over to the school and affect the students. We should be able to pick up on the lessons of our last conflict and prevent gridlock from affecting learning. Taff said that the teachers are motivated by the slogan “protect the future of Carmel Clay Schools,” and that they see themselves as contributing to the quality of our education system. It seems that the teachers are aware of the ramifications of entrenched contract battle.
“Teachers are human beings, and the expectation is that they will do what they always have done in this district, which is the very best that they possibly can for students. Period.”