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UPDATE: School Board Unanimously Approves Teacher Contract

Although a majority of residents in attendance opposed the contract and requested the board table the issue, it was passed after four hours of debate.

Despite hearing protests from a majority of residents in a packed Village Hall for over four hours, the School Board on Monday approved a ratified two-year contract with the teachers union.

The and the teachers reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract settlement at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, and the measure went to the board on Monday and was approved unanimously after four hours of heated debate. The board room was packed, and 50 to 75 more were gathered in the library watching the meeting on a live feed.

Residents were given a presentation by the board that outlined the significant changes in the ratified contract, but the majority of those in attendance felt the presentation only scratched the surface.

All the rules for a structured public meeting were thrown out the window, and the meeting morphed into more of an open forum between the board and those in attendance.

Residents pleaded for the board to table the vote on the contract until more information could be gathered regarding the new contract. Residents said they wanted time to review the contract, discuss and debate it.  They claimed the quick passage of the contract was an attempt to hoodwink the public.

“Reaching an agreement on a Friday night and voting on a Monday night is a terrible way to push something through and not give us a chance to talk about it,” said resident Daniel Stiller. “You are supposed to represent us, and as you can see by the people that are here, were are not happy about this.”

However, the board signed a privacy provision with the teachers union in October before negotiations began. It restricted the board from releasing the actual 80-page contract document to the public before both the board and the teachers union approved it. The agreement also guaranteed a “yes” vote from board members Lori Blodorn and Gina Palazzari, who are on the negotiating team.

Even if the vote were delayed a week as requested, board members explained that they still would not be able to release the full contract document for the public to view.

“The intent of these confidentiality provisions is to preserve the privacy of the contract negotiations until there is a tentative agreement on both sides,” said Blodorn, who is also on the bargaining team.

When members from the audience peppered board members with questions about the contents of the contract, their frustration only grew. The board was unable to tell residents how much the co-pay for teachers would be with their new insurance provider. Board Members Faith VanderHorst and Scott Ternes both said they had not read the entire contract.

“We have to rely on our other board members,” VanderHorst said. “But in fairness to everyone, I will probably read it, but I will not read anything I don’t already know.”

Those comments didn’t sit well with those in attendance.

“You wouldn’t have this anger if this was a one-year contract and you put it on the web for a week for people to view it, and you presented why this is a good idea,” said resident Paul Jenz. “ “What we have here is a major trust problem, and nobody trusts you right now.”

Savings in the ratified contract 

The school district is facing a $5.1 million deficit next year, but the new contract agreed with the teachers will save the district $5.8 million in employee costs, according to information presented by the board.

The new contract approved by the board increases the employee contribution to their retirement pension from zero to 5.8 percent, which saves the district $3 million.

The contract includes a new insurance plan from Humana that includes a $250 to $300 deductible. The employee contribution will increase from 5 percent to between 8 and 12 percent depending on an employee’s choice of plans. This is projected to save the district $2.4 million, or 12 percent of the current cost.

Changes in the pay structure for flex and homeroom duties will save the district $400,000. The district will also decrease its OPEB liability by only paying for five years of benefits for newly retired employees rather than the current 10 years.

The contract will also implement a merit-based pay scale in the second year of the contract.

“As a bottom line, we believe that this is more financially beneficial for the taxpayers in Menomonee Falls,” said Board President Kathy Shurilla. “We do believe that, and we’ve done a lot of research on that.”

The high cost of inaction

“There is no clear winner in any of this. Not teachers, taxpayers, or board members,” said Board Member David Noshay. “We have been put in a ridiculously difficult situation by all our lawmakers Democrat or Republican.”

The ambiguous status of the Budget Repair Bill placed the board in a precarious position. Since Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal has yet to be recognized as law, the district still needed to recognize the union and negotiate.

However, if a deal wasn’t reached before July 1, the district would need to honor the current contract that they union has agreed to rather than the ratified contract that includes cost-saving measures.

Shurilla said they spoke with a Republican lawmaker who said they shouldn’t expect the repair bill to be recognized as law until sometime in October. Board Member Scott Ternes said that for every month they waited, it would cost the district approximately $250,000 because they are bound to the existing contract.

“We’d have to cut into the fund balance, which means we have to raise short-term borrowing, and our bond rating would decrease,” Ternes said. “There are a lot of consequences to solve something that is an unrecoverable expense.”

Board members said they would rather lock in the savings they can agree to, rather than wait for the status of the repair bill to be confirmed. The board also wanted to secure 18 months of savings from switch to the new health care provider.

A fresh start if the bill is recognized as law

The debate and contract discussion could start anew if and when the repair bill is recognized as law. The contract agreed to by the district and union would be null and void depending on when the courts recognize it as becoming law.

If the repair bill voids is determined to have been law before the agreement was reached, the contract is null and void. However, if the repair bill is recognized as law on a date after this agreement, the district would be bound to this contract for the next two years.

red May 29, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Yes. Not just some, we need a majority of votes. Our neighbor was on the school board as the 'lone conservative' and was isolated and ostracized. Menomonee Falls is a conservative community we should not be led by arrogant liberals.
red May 29, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Davy, its time to go back to your basement and play video games.
Barb June 01, 2011 at 02:51 PM
To David M: You my dear David are a little pisher and needs to have his bottom spanked. You have no respect for the elderly generation. What kind of kid are you? I'll bet your parents are so proud of you, single, working 40 hours per week and attending college full time in the evenings. The fact that you have no time for relationships, marriage or family for a few more years is breaking my heart. A lot of "older generation" did the same things back in the day only to get a head slap by an arrogant, self promoting, disrespectful ant like you. Call me mindless but you are shameful! Older Lady
free to speak June 01, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Congrats to the Palmyra-Eagle School District who could make a well thought out decision that serves everyone's best interests!
RAK June 02, 2011 at 03:35 AM
David M., Does that include your parents and grand parents too, your disrespectful, uncaring and hateful verbiage scares me, you voice thinking similar to the type of condemnation coming from the mouths of Marxist minds! Perhaps you are in need of some anger management training. Be mindful that the people you condemn were busy raising their kids, you for example unless you hatched from an egg, working hard to provide for their families and some giving their lives so you could speak your evil thoughts about them today! Many worked 50-60 hours per week or had two jobs to make ends meet, the wives had to go to work too. Before you condemn others take a good hard look at your life, 40 years old, going to school, no time for a life, sound familiar? And who's going to take care of you in old age, the next after you? Rather than condemn others take the high road and concentrate on making the future better for others as you suggest previous generations have failed to do. Improve upon what prior generations in your eyes did not do.
RAK June 02, 2011 at 12:35 PM
So it doesn't include your parents ,baby boomers themselves, or your grandparents as they didn't let everything go to hell but it does include everyone else all being at fault! You are good at contradicting yourself David. You see we too fall in the camp of your parents as you define them as well as a number of other Americans who fall in to the camp of T-party participants. So working 50-60 hours in your mind is wrong, creating a business and supporting workers is bad, how cynical a mind do you have David. You may need some psychological help from Lyle. Get real, David and stop your ridiculous condemnation of patriotic Americans who put their trust in people they voted into office only to be disappointed in the actions of those they elected. I believe that is what the Falls School Board asked for wasn't it, TRUST us!
RAK June 02, 2011 at 02:34 PM
David M., Excuse me, I am not an idiot and I don't need to resort to childish name calling like you seem to have a penchant to do. I say quit doing that, it doesn't belong on the Patch blogs! What else could one come to a conclusion from your words, your bias appears quite apparent to me and an after the fact statement doesn't hold water in my world!
RAK June 02, 2011 at 03:12 PM
David M., By the way, I do read, with discretion, an abundance of material on line and in print. as a matter of fact I read your first article before you sent it my way. As for the poll, I don't need a poll to garner the problem that exists for young adults concerning employment including the poor job our nation has done in directing its youth to get ready for employment in the present digital age. Actually, I see a bifurcation in the labor force in your generation X group, there are the haves and the have nots, some are making fantastic money in great jobs and many cannot even find gainful employment. Barb has you pegged correctly and I feel that you need to exhibit some humility to gain some respect from the groups you so cavalierly condemn! I'm done, so long, have a great summer!
Sammy June 08, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Ok, so Housing, Oil, Construction Trucking, hardware etc . Are All in a Full Blown Depression, Because of Obama ,The Democrats ,The Unions and the School Boards destroyed and pissed on Small businesses and Pillaged all of our Country's Wealth. So, now, We barely have enough money to pay for food and Gas. And Our Houses are in Forclosure. But The School board and The Democrat Unions made a Deal that All Retiree's Get most of their Pay, Full Pension, and Full Health Care. Oh, But the Current Teachers Get those same Benefits too Right? So, now that There's No work, That means there's no tax money. Cant Borrow Any More. Cant Raise Taxes. The only thing left to Do is cut the Last hired staff. And, Obama's Depression is only Going to get worse. What Employer Do You think Will ever, hire a laid off school teacher, Especially after the screw job they've done to us and our Family's. We're Miles beyond upset. With the Dems Still Destroying Jobs, There wont be enough money for teachers jobs, for decades , And the Private sector will never, ever, ever, hire a Socialist ,Union ,Democrat teacher,Ever. Laid off teachers will never Work again. Thank Your School Board.
paul February 23, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Vote for conservative representation on the Menomonee Falls School Board. - Paul A Tadda www.paultadda.com Election is on April 3rd
Menoparent March 07, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Paul, That's the problem, how conservative are you? Read all the blogs on here, going to March meeting, hope there is someone on the board, who cares about teachers, students, parents all working together, and stop sticking it to the teachers and their union. It's about the kids, remember? I am not a public employee.
paul March 07, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Who is sticking it to whom? Recently the teachers agreed to increase their contributions to healthcare by 3.5%. This saved the district approximately $160,000 per year according to the Patch article. Now at the same time the district has had to file a lawsuit against the "benevolent" union for approximately $267,000 of federal funds intended for the District to help offset retiree healthcare costs. If the District had the $267,000 that the Union is withholding, it is quite possible that the teachers may not have had to increase their healthcare contribution because this $267,000 would not a cost to the District at this time. So I say the Union is sticking to the teachers, taxpayers and the students. These articles are linked on my website on the "Items of Interest" page. www.paultadda.com Conservativeness is not a "problem" and I do care about the students, teachers, and taxpayers. Until the Union starts caring about the others (teachers, students, and taxpayers) and it is not only concerned about perpetuating the union, I don't understand how the Union can be seen favorably.
Richard March 07, 2012 at 04:37 PM
You are right on Paul, union leadership is the problem, they are truly concerned about one thing preserving their good jobs, salaries and benefits! Union leaders seem to have a penchant for scaring their members with outrageous and unfounded information.
#1 son March 07, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Paul, if you are going to be a truly viable candidate, you should do your research and get your facts straight. Money being withheld for Union dues is not district money. Also, the district chose to file the lawsuit, they didn't have to. Why don't you spend your own money to fund the advertising for your campaign rather than tooting your own horn here.
paul March 07, 2012 at 08:52 PM
#1 son - you should read my post again before you question my facts. I said nothing about "union dues."
#1 son March 08, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Paul- you refer to funds ($) being withheld because of the Union, and the only money being withheld, (escrow) is the employees union dues because of the ridiculous lawsuit the district has filed. You also stated in MFN post "Now, the Union should give back the funds that they are withholding from the Menomonee Falls School District " . The union is not withholding any money from the district! Stop throwing the union under the bus and where do you come up with federal funds earmarked to reduced district retirement healthcare costs?
paul March 08, 2012 at 12:57 PM
#1 Son - Again - I say nothing about dues. I am not talking about dues. The Union is not giving back $267,000 of federal funds intended to help cover costs of retiree healthcare. Here is the story a link to the story I am referring to in my post - http://bit.ly/wDlNNo Please read it.
#1 son March 08, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Paul- and again I say to you get your facts straight, the Union has nothing to do with this. The WEA Trust is not the union!!! They are an insurance company, good grief.
Menoparent March 08, 2012 at 02:56 PM
#1 son, thank you so much for helping me out here. I see this is a one-sided and hope there is someone else rather than Tadda to vote for?
Richard March 08, 2012 at 03:00 PM
An insurance company owned and controlled by the WEA! Get your thoughts straight.
#1 son March 08, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Richard- again, misinformation. My thoughts are fine, you need to get your facts straight.
Menoparent March 08, 2012 at 03:13 PM
you say you are not talking about dues, but WEA was taken away as their insurance carrier to save money and then you don't think you have honor the consequences of ending a contract before it's up. The teacher's paid their dues for their good benefits, not your's or the taxpayer. If it turns out the WEA loses this lawsuit, I'll bet you you guys will find another way to save more money by of course cutting teacher benefits. It will never end for those of you who just want to end the union period. That's your only goal.
paul March 08, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The attached document shows that the WEA Trust and WEA Insurance Corporation were set up by WEAC and is part of the WEAC organization. To say the union has "nothing to do with this", is an incorrect statement. http://oci.wi.gov/fin_exam/weainscor.pdf
Menoparent March 08, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Paul, okay just say it's about the union vs. school district. Negotiate then. The district said they were so grateful for the teachers giving up more of their pay and it saved taxpayers $160,000. It would have saved taxpayers even more by not starting to pick a fight with WEA and not following contract rules. Now the district is just spending the savings and probably more on a lawsuit.
Menoparent March 08, 2012 at 03:51 PM
All of this blogging here just proves why we are having a Walker recall going on, nothing is in moderation, it's all or nothing, no negotiations, no compromise.
Richard March 08, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Paul, forget it, we are right about the insurance company and WEAC but as usual the other side turns a deaf ear to reason and fact. With them it's all about twist the information to fit their agenda, truth and fact have no place in their vocabulary.
Menoparent March 08, 2012 at 06:33 PM
FYI everybody, Paul Tadda calls current "teachers rigid hindrance" to the school district and even blames the ridiculous decision to move up school start time on the union contract. It was the parents who were polled and were against it and then revised it. No teacher contract was involved!
paul March 08, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Menoparent - it was a typo. I intended to type "The current rigid teacher contract is a hindrance to effective change in the District." Unfortunately the posts are not editable, so I could not fix the typo. For instance, you misquoted me by typing "teachers" instead of "teacher", so I guess it can happen to anyone.
paul March 08, 2012 at 06:57 PM
For further information the partial post that Menoparent is referring to is in this patch article. If one reads the post, it shows I was not calling the teachers rigid I was calling the contract rigid. I have great respect for teachers. I believe that it is in the best interest of the District to compensate them competitively.
paul March 08, 2012 at 07:45 PM
My apologies - I forgot to attach the link, in my comment above, to the article from which Menoparent took the partial post. http://menomoneefalls.patch.com/articles/falls-school-district-revises-schedule-proposal

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