HOLTON, Kan. (WIBW) - Dozens of Holton teachers are protesting over their new contracts.
Teachers delivered nearly 70 contracts - unsigned - to the superintendent's office Monday. The number represents more than half of the 132 teachers covered by the district's contracts.
The teachers say they're upset that, when a fact finder issued recommendations, the school board opted to issue a unilateral contract for the upcoming year, rather than resume negotiations.
The unilateral contract, they says, includes changes that affect job security. Plus, they say, money put into contingency and capital outlay funds last year shows their request for a one percent raise wasn't out of line.
Cari Andrews, who is the chief negotiator for Holton's National Education Association, says teachers recognize the recent budget crisis, but this was the first requested raise in four years and the teachers felt it was reasonable. She says they, too, are dealing with higher expenses. She says students come first and part of putting them first is to provide quality teachers.
Holton Superintendent Nancy Meyer says the uncertainly of state funding drove the district's decisions. She says lawmakers have cut schools for several years and the board didn't know until late May what would be in store for the upcoming year.
Meyer says the capital outlay money is needed to meet growing maintenance costs of the district's older buildings. She also points out that the board used contingency funds to give all staff a two-percent bonus last August, which averaged around $1000 for teachers. Plus, she says they received an insurance rebate from Blue Cross Blue Shield, averaging nearly $1300 for teachers.
Meyer acknowledged the contract changes time off provisions. She said the district had allowed teachers 13 days leave, however that has been changed to 10 sick days and three personal days, which cannot be taken the first and last week of a semester or during parent/teacher conferences.
First-year teachers and incoming teachers must sign the unilateral contract. Other teachers may choose to sign it or not sign it. If they do not, they would be covered by the current contract. Teachers also could opt to resign, but Andrews is hopeful that will not happen.
Note: Meyer declined to be interviewed on-camera so she is not included in the video and interview with Andrews accompanying this story.