Teachers, board head to mediation - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Teachers, board head to mediation

Sides about $350,000 apart on new contract

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Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 12:45 am, Tue Aug 26, 2014.

COEUR d'ALENE - Teachers in Coeur d'Alene will start the school year without a contract.

Negotiations between the school district's board of trustees and the Coeur d'Alene Education Association - the local chapter of the state teachers union - broke down a week ago. There was a glimmer of hope that a settlement might be reached at the 11th hour when both sides agreed to return to the bargaining table for one last meeting.

The session, held Monday at Woodland Middle School, attracted about 100 observers, mainly teachers.

It ended without resolution of the contract, and with an agreement to seek a settlement through mediation.

"We really wanted to settle tonight," said Kelly Ostrom, chief negotiator for the school board and the district's head of human resources. "We're really disappointed, but we have to stay within our budget."

The teachers union's last settlement offer called for salary increases based on years of experience and education attained. This would apply to teachers eligible for movement on the "steps and ladders" grid. The teachers estimate this will cost the district $350,000. The board's final offer includes this, but claims it will cost the district $700,000.

The teachers are calling for no change in the insurance benefits package or cost of premiums, and they are asking the board to absorb a $500,000 increase in health insurance costs.

The board's final offer calls for district employees to share the burden of the insurance cost uptick. They are proposing a change in health insurance benefits that will cost employees more through higher co-payments and co-insurance responsibility, and reduce the amount the district contributes to family premiums.

The teachers were asking for a 1 percent raise. They adjusted their final offer to seek a 0.9 percent increase to the salary base.

"All of this has been really tough because we would really love to do everything you're asking for," Superintendent Matt Handelman said during the session.

There is disagreement between both parties as to how much money is available to fund salaries and benefits.

The teachers union members pointed to several areas of the budget where they believe additional funds can be found. Handelman said there is no extra money available.

The teachers contend they have taken pay cuts in the form of insurance benefits changes since 2008 when the economy went into a tailspin.

Lake City High music teacher and the district's lead negotiator Tim Sandford said there are teachers who are struggling to make ends meet. He said there is a teacher who works delivering pizzas so he can pay his family's bills. Another is eligible for two forms of public assistance, and he has an advanced degree.

"These stories aren't uncommon. They're more common than you know," Sandford said.

He said the teachers union members will not ratify the board's proposal.

"Unfortunately, this is all coming down to about a $350,000 difference ... I don't see this as an issue of money. I see this as an issue of philosophy and priority," Sandford said. "There are going to be a lot of hard feelings over $350,000."

The first day of school is Sept. 2.

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44 comments:

  • SHIPOFFOOLS posted at 7:00 pm on Sat, Aug 30, 2014.

    SHIPOFFOOLS Posts: 633

    There has been considerable discussion here concerning facts being twisted and commenters not telling the truth. A 4 year study was released this week that showed that people who make statements and comments on the internet without using their real names are most likely to lie. Since Brent Regen is real, I will believe him and tell all the rest of you "Twits" to go pound sand.....

     
  • Involvedad posted at 4:47 pm on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    Involvedad Posts: 19

    In states that expanded Medicaid premiums have gone down, Idaho chose not to expand.

     
  • Involvedad posted at 4:43 pm on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    Involvedad Posts: 19

    $66,000 a year hardly makes on a "fat cat" If it does, how "fat" are you, sir?

     
  • Involvedad posted at 4:39 pm on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    Involvedad Posts: 19

    Like a flat tax advantages the wealthiest. Do you support a Flat Tax?

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 1:41 pm on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    Brent-
    Former teacher? Huh?

    The numbers above show facts. She was taking home $5118/month, now is taking home $6375/month.

    Do you dispute these numbers? Don't these show a (take home) raise of $1257/month? (6375-5118)
    This times 12 is $15084/year increase, which is also known as a raise. That is a hefty raise from one year to the next.
    Did you look at the pay checks that the school district shows to all on the website? Check yourself. I'll wait.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 1:19 pm on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    As a former teacher you should know the difference between gross pay and base pay. Accountable Idaho has the data for 2013, which is "last year".

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 9:55 am on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    Brent, Accountable Idaho is old data. As a former school board member I know that you know pay expenditures are online at the cda schools website.
    A quick look shows these numbers-
    June 2013- $5118
    Aug 2013- $5118
    Sept 2013- $8512
    October 2013- $6250
    November $6250
    December $7337
    January- $6375
    Feb- $6375
    March 2014- $6375

    Looks like quite the jump to me.
    Apparently there is truth to the rumor.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 8:40 am on Wed, Aug 27, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    The HR Director is Kelly Ostrom. According to AccountableIdaho.com, her salary has remained flat since 2010 at $61,422 which is $5,058 LESS than band instructor and CEA lead negotiator Mr. Sandford receives

    Which "other" district employees do you think got raises?

    Apparently there is no truth to your rumor.

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 8:30 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    For those that are upset about the minimal raise the teachers are trying to get, I hope you are equally upset about the raise that the district office people gave themselves last year. I heard that the HR director received about a $15,000 raise raise last year. Other district office people received quite large raises as well.
    Any truth to that?

     
  • Joe D posted at 7:37 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Joe D Posts: 2500

    "The teachers are calling for no change in the insurance benefits package or cost of premiums, and they are asking the board to absorb a $500,000 increase in health insurance costs."

    Hey... I though health insurance cost were suppose to go down, not up. What's up with that?

     
  • oscar posted at 7:22 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 988

    So who is this NEA bully you talk about? You are wrong again, maybe you should attend a negotiations session before you spread your misinformation, but reading your others posts on this topic, you seen to have that skill down pat. I'll check back later and see if you can tell me who the NEA person is - I know you won't have an answer that is valid.

     
  • oscar posted at 7:19 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 988

    That is a Total lie.

     
  • oscar posted at 7:18 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 988

    Every teacher deserves much more money then they make now. Could you live on their wages?

     
  • oscar posted at 7:16 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 988

    Everything I have researched about NWPE shows it to be a total waste of money. I don't know who you are talking to but those I know in the CDA district tell me the CDA Ed Association is running strong. NWPE doesn't negotiate and I understand they do not want to, it is not the purpose of their organization. If you don't like teachers unionized, maybe you should move back to where you came from, the unions and their decent paying jobs have been around Idaho longer than you have. Everyone in Idaho should unionize, then there would be plenty of good paying jobs and less profit going to the owner who does little but live off the sweat of the worker. You are the type of individual that has gotten Idaho in the mess it is in.

     
  • oscar posted at 7:09 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 988

    Sure businesses do. It is called a yearly raise. Employees expect it and successful businesses give them. Businesses reward loyalty with pay raises, otherwise the employees move on. Good people with experience are hard to find and keep. Tell me the district that has capped the salary of the most highly experienced teachers, I'd like to read about it. Paying new teachers a high wage will keep your district hiring new inexperienced teachers continually because no one is going to work for long without financial rewards (pay raises). A teacher can work just as easily in Washington as they can Idaho - same job - way different pay. Check with your district and see how many teachers left - I was surprised.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 5:57 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    "The vast majority of this community" of anonymous, cowardly, lying trolls don't like it when I point out facts!?!?!? Now I am 'shocked'.

    What ever happened to tolerance of diversity? Respect for opposing views? HHMMMMmmmm?

     
  • ProIdaho posted at 5:53 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    ProIdaho Posts: 251

    Bingo! $20 million for the "blighted" Mc Euen park and now we have shortages elsewhere.

    Gee who could have not seen this coming.

     
  • ProIdaho posted at 5:51 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    ProIdaho Posts: 251

    So you believe in silencing free speech? You obviously do not like or agree with Brent, but he has as much right to give his opinion as you do.

    By the way, I support your right to say what you just said too.

     
  • straight up posted at 5:36 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    straight up Posts: 927

    Knock. Knock.
    Who's There?
    LCDC.
    LCDC Who?
    The LCDC who receives exponentially more tax money. than is at issue in this labor dispute.

    Read it and weep folks. Tax money for the wealthiest developers flows more freely than for our children's well being.

     
  • Curt Slade posted at 5:09 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Curt Slade Posts: 57

    Shocked can't argue a point like an adult so it prefers people it disagrees with to just be silenced. Classic. I'm getting such a chuckle out of the fact that the Balance North Idaho/teachers union folks got the school board they wanted, yet the negotiations have met with the same results as if Brent and Ann had won their elections. Rubes!

     
  • Shocked posted at 4:38 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Shocked Posts: 98

    Brent. Please just go away. The vast majority of this community does not appreciate your arrogant tone and condescending views.

     
  • Third posted at 1:35 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Third Posts: 17

    $350,000 .... as I can remember that is the same amount that the sheriffs dept. Just paid for their new Bearcat Armored truck. This shows where our priorities are, a militarized police force before the future of our children? I know that the funding of teachers and that of the sheriffs department are allocated from different pots of money, but in the end this simply makes no since to me.

     
  • 986crazy posted at 12:53 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    986crazy Posts: 397

    " Why not give the pay raise to teachers making less than a certain amount to help the ones who need it the most?"...by taking it away from those teachers at the top of the pay scale?
    - Sounds like Socialism.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 12:31 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    Don't tell lies. What I wrote was: "Shouldn't the pay increases go to the teachers that deserve and need it the most".

    Well, shouldn't they?

     
  • justme posted at 12:23 pm on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    justme Posts: 77

    Perhaps a solution is to raise the salary for the the new hires and teachers on the low end of the scale to attract good teachers. Cap the salary of those on the high end to help encourage more equal pay for equal work. This has worked in other districts with success. Combining this with some form of merit pay would benefit those hard working younger teachers. Business does not raise a persons salary for just showing up year after year.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 11:27 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    You open with a personal attack while cowering behind a screen name. THAT is bad form. Statements of fact are not attacks.

    Here is another fact. Percentage pay increases advantage the higher than average pay recipients.

     
  • wwrd posted at 11:25 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    wwrd Posts: 191

    Yes arius I know, that is why I suggested they band together and join NWPE and stop this Union nonsense. From what I hear there is barely a majority of union members in SD 271. Less than that and another group can have negotiation rights. If Union members don't like our beautiful community they can move to Washington or Chicago and we can hire some new young enthusiastic teachers that put our kids before the NEA.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 11:11 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    Only every day.........

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 11:03 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    As an educator you should know that Mr. Sandford's pay and benefits increased by ~10%. The 'extras' haven't apparently changed since last year but the pay has.

     
  • Miketeague posted at 11:03 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Miketeague Posts: 1952

    Hayden_guy how dare you try to introduce truth and facts into a discussion with BR, it is always more fun to try to rile people up with unfounded hysteria. More often then not an arbitrator will go with the employers last best offer, but no matter what, all we can do is wait until a decision is made.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 10:59 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    They did at my company. When times were tough in the early 90s, management voluntarily took a 10% pay cut rather than cutting employee pay. Why not give the pay raise to teachers making less than a certain amount to help the ones who need it the most?

     
  • arius1 posted at 10:59 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    arius1 Posts: 656

    Pretty sad when teachers pay is so low, that some have to resort to public assistance and delivering pizza's. Then we have ego - heads like Brent saying we pay them too much. By the way wwrd, not all union members are dems/libs.

    Idaho is lucky that the unions here aren't as strong as back east, where the teachers are some of the highest paid in the nation, and upon retiring get full medical coverage.

     
  • wwrd posted at 10:35 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    wwrd Posts: 191

    Just a thought, Union teachers could get a 40 dollar a month raise by Organizing with NWPE ( North West Professional Educators) . It provides twice the liability coverage and all the other perks of union membership because NO dues go to politics. Let's put children first!

     
  • wwrd posted at 9:46 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    wwrd Posts: 191

    Yes Brent, you are right about Tim, talk about blowing his horn! Only the teachers union with help from the NEA bully that is helping Tim, would not recognize the $500,000 increase for the health insurance cost increase as being a raise. Do these people not talk to their neighbors? They must live in this fantasy world vacuum where giving more dues money to BarryO will end in Utopia.

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 9:15 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    No matter what side you are on, recognize that the teachers in the Coeur d'Alene School District are reporting to work today without a contract.

    How often does that happen in the professional-private sector?

     
  • 986crazy posted at 8:35 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    986crazy Posts: 397

    At risk of feeding a Troll:
    I guess the point is lost on you that he IS negotiating for those who need it the most and NOT the "fat cats at the top" aka administration. Then, of course, you have to throw in a personal attack by mentioning his salary that is last year's news. Bad form.

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 8:35 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    Brent, in the private sector do pay cuts happen at the top first?

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 8:29 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    Brent, is that how it works in the private sector? Pay cuts happen at the top first?

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 8:24 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    Brent, being a former school board member you should know that that salary also includes all the extra coaching that he does- includes time at sporting events with the band, etc.
    Also, depending on the year (it is well known) that Mr. Sandford was principal of summer school, also carrying a paycheck added to what you are referring to.

    Just to clarify, are you saying that those with the experience, at the top of their game, should take pay cuts?

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 8:11 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    Brent Regan Posts: 607

    Shouldn't the pay increases go to the teachers that deserve and need it the most instead of the fat cats at the top? According to AccountableIdaho.com, Mr. Sandford enjoyed a $6,400.00 raise last year and now he wants another $1,000.00 in salary and benefits. Mr. Sandford teaches band for $66,480.00/year plus benefits.

     
  • taxpayer posted at 7:19 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    taxpayer Posts: 318

    this is why Idaho is 48th in education, attitudes here are very negative against education

     
  • taxpayer posted at 7:18 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    taxpayer Posts: 318

    this is why Idaho is 48th in education, attitudes here a very negative against education

     
  • oscar posted at 7:07 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 988

    I totally support the teachers. Everyone I know has gotten raises this year, some as high as 7% in our area. A 1% raise is not unreasonable. At one point I think teachers had pretty good insurance but that has been whittled down dramatically over the years with the teachers picking up the costs. Seems like every year the CDA District finds money for some pet project but plead poor when the teachers try to negotiate for a fair wage. No one stays on a job for long when they have to struggle to make school loan payments and support a family. The hourly wages for teachers is pretty low when compared to other professionals in the area. If you want quality people entering the field, pay a decent wage.

     
  • joe0u812 posted at 3:36 am on Tue, Aug 26, 2014.

    joe0u812 Posts: 287

    Isn't what's going on just "mediation" without a mediator? To really get something done you'll need "arbitration."

     
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