Capac Board of Education member Greg Warnez recently argued that financial considerations kept district management from negotiating with its employees. His letter certainly explains management's stance and its decision to hire a professional negotiator (something which has been confusing in light of the warm relationship the district has enjoyed in past years with its employees). Naturally, the district's workers have struggled with this. They've only asked for what other school districts offer their employees throughout the county.
For the last few years, management had aggressively tackled the budget situation by outsourcing jobs and privatizing some positions within the district. They've altered administrative benefits and laid off staff. They've been a powerhouse, exploring many options except the obvious one: working with employees to come up with a solution to the budget crisis.
Mr. Warnez cited that management had to act decisively to avoid a $100,000 deficit that would result from a $59 per student cut to the education budget. This cut has been negated due to the proposed stimulus package. Mr. Warnez and the rest of management will be thrilled to learn that deficit issue has been resolved. According to the Senate Fiscal Agency the Capac School District should receive $1,022,342 from the recently passed stimulus package. That money is meant to help the school district pay its employees and maintain benefits at their current level, and to hire back some of the teaching staff that had to be let go.
Parents will want to come to the next board meeting, March 19 at the high school to celebrate this development and to hopefully hear management proclaim that with the deficit issue removed, their highly paid negotiator will at last be instructed to do what he should have been doing all along: negotiating. Perhaps the board will also announce reinstatement of some teaching positions and an end to its outsourcing and privatization plans. Surely they won't try putting away money that had been earmarked for spending. Maybe they'll even announce an end to 'Pay-to-Play.'
It's time to stop the deadlock. With the money from the stimulus package, management has more than enough to help the Capac School District maintain its quality educational program. Management and labor can now put aside differences.