Letter from Dr. Maass about the contract extension

Dear Community Members:
 
Leadership is not easy. During difficult times, a leader has to balance the welfare of staff with that of the organization or company. Under the current budget proposal, the district will face a $20 million shortfall. With the current political climate, the Board of Education met on Sunday for seven hours to create a Memorandum of Agreement, offering a two-year contract extension to our teacher’s union, the Green Bay Education Association (GBEA).
 
The Memorandum was passed last night by GBEA members. I know this was a difficult vote for our staff to make, but it will help the organization in its short- and long-term financial goals. These sacrifices are greatly appreciated, and we are still driven to make the district the choice workplace in the area.
 
Given the current state of affairs in Madison, where the two sides are unable to come to the table to find a balanced compromise, it is up to each school and municipality to make decisions and find solutions. The flexibility of the agreement will enable us to keep as many staff as possible employed in this unstable economy while providing a quality education to our community’s children.
 
To summarize the agreement, GBEA members have agreed to the following concessions:
  • Salary remains frozen at the current rate, with step increases honored;
  • Collective bargaining procedures are suspended;
  • Employees will fund 12% of their health and dental benefits;
  • Employees will fund the total employee share of the Wisconsin Retirement System contribution;
  • The district does not have to bargain with the GBEA on the school calendar;
  • Mail-order prescription service mandatory for maintenance drugs;
  • Long Term Care is suspended;
  • Teacher seniority is suspended and the district has more flexibility in assigning teachers;
  • Principals have more flexibility in working with teachers outside of the scheduled workday;
  • Continue to have after school activities (i.e. co-curricular and extra-curricular) funded by the district;
  • Emeritus is a voluntary program and emeritus teachers will serve as substitute teachers on their workdays;
  • Phase out of the current emeritus program;
  • Flexibility in class size that is not mandated by the government (i.e., SAGE).
It’s been hard during this discourse to hear people rail against public employees. Not only have teachers been projected in a negative light, but also the very people who make sure your roads are plowed when it snows, your garbage and recycling are picked up, your streets are paved, and your neighborhoods are safe. And teachers not only educate the future leaders of our community, but often go above and beyond for many kids who do not have a supportive family structure at home. A majority of our teachers hold Masters degrees and additional college credit courses are required to maintain certification – expenses that come out of their own pockets. As I look around our community, I think our taxpayer dollars are well-spent.
 
I feel strongly that this is a balanced solution that maintains the integrity of our workforce during these unsure times. I want to thank our staff for making the difficult sacrifice in such short notice. I’d also like to thank all of the community members who have advised us over the last three weeks.
 
Sincerely,
Dr. Greg Maass
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