Ogden teachers had refused to negotiate

Jul 11 2011 - 5:53pm

(UNEDITED) In the Saturday, 8 July 2011, edition, Rachel Trotter quoted Utah House Majority Leader as saying that Ogden teachers have worked without a contract since 2009.!  As is known to the Standard, this is a false statement.!  Ogden District and its teachers reached a final contract for school years 2008-2009 and for 2009-2010.!  Negotiations failed for 2010-2011 because the teacher's Association rejected two requests to resume negotiation made by the District in April 2011 and again in May 2011.!  On some level, by refusing to negotiate, the OEA forfeited its ability to participate; events bypassed them.

Ogden District, virtually alone among Utah's school district, has not (1) shortened the school year, (2) reduced staff, (3) increased class sizes, (4) reduced programs, or (5) increased taxes, in order to balance our budget during the past three years of budget crisis.!  Moreover, while our teachers have not received guaranteed annual increases in salary ("steps), they have received annual cash payments in place of a steps.!  For 2009-10 (the first year steps were not available) every teacher in Ogden District received $539 in one lump sum in December 2009.!  For 2010-2011, just last month every step-eligible teacher received a lump sum of $920.

Our performance pay proposal does not ignore teachers.!  Anyone who says otherwise has simply not read the proposed contract. ! As provided for in the proposed contract, steps--steps, not performance pay--will remain the standard for 2011-12 and 2012-13.!  During those two years, a task force including all stakeholders (teachers, parents, taxpayers, administrators, board members) will meet to design a performance-pay system.!  In 2013-14, the portion of pay increases that would go to steps will be split, with 75% going to steps and 25% going to performance pay.!  Please note that salaries, set from the prior year are unaffected by this.!  In 2014-15, the proportion changes to 50/50; and in 2015-16 to 25/75, with full performance pay achieved in 2016-17.!  Teachers will have a real and important say in the design of this system.!  Student test results are not the primary much less the sole measure to be used.

OEA's leadership suggests that these changes are part of some vast, right-wing conspiracy, to borrow a phrase.!  It is not.!  Hopeful negotiations and requests for negotiation, formal and informal, continued through May 2011.!  However, using the same type of evidence, what are we to conclude from the announced 14 July 2011 OEA rally, complete with an unidentified speaker from the National Education Association?!  Is this part of a vast, left-wing conspiracy.

Ogden District has many profound challenges.!  We have a board that is willing to reevaluate its position and take bold action.!  We have a corps of professional teachers willing to work hard and produce results for our students.!  As a board, we seek to reward and honor those teachers.!  Right thinking people will, I believe, welcome that change.

Brad C. Smith




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