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Updated: District Says It's Too Early to Consider Teacher Contract Extension

Union makes a proposal to extend current contract with health insurance, pension concessions before budget repair bill takes effect.

While some teachers were helping with the Monday afternoon, other teachers were outside the building raising awareness of a different cause - a contract proposal the union has submitted to the School Board.

Union President Mark Yanisch said he submitted a proposal to board members to maintain the existing teachers contract provisions for another two years, with modifications to mirror the 5.8 percent pension contributions and 12 percent health insurance contributions proposed under Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.

Mark Kapocius, the district's human resources director, said the board received the proposed agreement from the union on Feb. 28. On March 10, the board sent Yanisch an e-mail saying it was too early to consider a contract, given the uncertainty surrounding the budget repair bill and the biennial budget.

“It would be imprudent at this juncture for the board to enter into a contract with so many unknowns out there,” he said.

Since then, Yanisch said he also handed the board members a petition with signatures from 67 union members in support of the proposal.

In addition to the pension and health insurance contributions, Walker's controversial budget repair bill would most notably eliminate the bulk of collective bargaining rights. The bill does not take effect until it is published, and due to a Dane County judge's injunction, the bill is temporarily in limbo.

Yanisch said he asked to sit down and discuss his proposal with the board before the bill is published, but he has not heard anything from the board or administration since March 10. Kapocius said the board thought the original response was sufficient, and the board still feels it would be too early to enter into a contract.

Walker has said the cuts in public employee compensation will offset $900 million in state aid cuts to school districts in his biennial budget. The Whitefish Bay School District under the proposed budget.

Yanisch said the Whitefish Bay Education Association and the board have a professional relationship.

"We've got a great partnership. We really do," he said.

While some unions have acrimonious relationships with their school boards, "that's not the relationship we want," Yanisch said. "Nor do we want teachers looking over their shoulder. Nor do we want teachers wondering if they're going the ones who are going to be laid off next year. No one wants to be in those shoes."

George Mitchell March 31, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Mr. Ruble, You have no idea what you are talking about.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Mr. Mitchell, I beg to differ with you and I want to remind you that assumptions based on false premises make the whole argument wrong. Sir, your perspective and reality have created a condition where you are unable to see other realities. You need to exam your values system and do a little reality testing. I take it that you see everything in dollar signs and judge effectiveness based on your own preconceived notions. You can point people all you want to the Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Clairmont Institute or any other right wing conservative think tank to support your positions, but they are clearly wrong too. Obviously you don't have any idea what I am talking about. Give up the fight for your voucher schools, they will never prove to be successful. Maybe you should focus your energies on the home school fundamentalist Christian movement, I am sure they will welcome you with open arms. I will never accept tax payers money going for the financial support of any other institution that is not public and secular.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 04:05 AM
Mr. Mitchell, One other thing to add; the problem of poor performing schools will never be solved until we eliminate the conditions of chronic impoverishment. That sir, is the foundation of the problem. How can children perform when they grow up in a culture in which they don't receive adequate nutrition for proper brain development, a culture that doesn't support academic and skills achievement because there aren't any jobs anyway, and an outside society that more often than not is out right hostile to them. You can sit in your comfortable home in WFB and I in my home in Shorewood and debate this until the cows come home; but, it is in fact very simple, eliminate poverty and the problem goes away. Now if you want to counter that we can't afford it; then I will counter with, we have to afford it or settle on the realization that a 3rd world nation will continue to exist in the wealthiest nation on earth.
George Mitchell March 31, 2011 at 04:14 AM
The WFB school board had an interesting discussion tonight. Bottom line: the budget repair bill will prevent layoffs. Constructive proposals were offered from the teachers assn to work on ways to save money. While people clearly have strong opinions, the over-the-top rhetoric that prevails in Patch threads was missing. This is where and how the real work will get done. The likes of Lyle, Keith, Kiernan, etc. will babble on. Their real problem will come when the recall elections occur...it will be much clearer by then that this is a choice between higher taxes and layoffs.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 11:14 AM
Mr. Mitchell, Your report about the WFB school board meeting is encouraging. Dialogue and compromise is the only way that problems will be solved. Please pass that on to Governor Walker and the Republican controlled legislature. I have always depended on the political process of give and take. That is until Scott Walker and the legislature made their unprecedented power grab. The one good thing that has come about from the current political environment is that people have finally gotten off their backsides and are letting their voices be heard. So I guess I should thank the governor and legislature for engaging the citizenry.

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