Teachers to hear contract proposal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Wednesday, December 01, 1999

Ten years ago this week, Austin’s teachers and school district weren’t getting anywhere in contract negotiations. In the present, things seem to be looking better. Tomorrow, Austin Independent School District No. 492 teachers will hear the details of a proposed new contract.

Austin Education Association officers and the AEA’s negotiating team will present a proposed new contract’s details to teachers at a special meeting, beginning 4 p.m. Thursday at Austin High School.

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If the AEA bargaining unit accepts the proposed contract and votes to approve it, the pact will be returned to the Austin Board of Education for their consideration Dec. 15.

The tentative agreement between the AEA’s negotiators and the school district was reached near 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and ends nearly 10 months of talks.

Neither AEA spokesman, Jeffrey Ollman, nor Dr. James Hess, Austin’s superintendent of schools, revealed any details of the proposed new pact.

A state mediator facilitated discussions in the last two sessions between the teachers’ negotiating team and school district representatives.

"We’re working at break-neck speed today," said Hess, "to prepare the draft for review by the AEA and the school board. We have to get it done by tomorrow (Thursday) when it will be presented to the teachers."

Hess replaced Dr. J. Douglas Myers, who resigned to retire after a lengthy career in education. He inherited a school district bathing in red ink, according to the latest audit report from Darwin Vickers of LAWCO.

Vickers told the school board it must devise a plan to end its deficit spending immediately, when he presented the audit report a week ago.

The school district’s financial situation was an issue in the recently-concluded school board elections, which saw four incumbents defeated and four newcomers to the board of education elected.

Hess said the school district’s financial situation as well as the 1999 Minnesota Legislature’s delving into the state aid to education funding formula could have delayed reaching an agreement with teachers.

"There were a lot of contributing factors," he said.

Hess credited Alan Olson of the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Service with helping to move the stalled talks forward.

"He was a very resourceful person," Hess said.