Park City School District, education association hammer out a deal
May 26, 2015
The Park City School District and the Park City Education Association, which represents the district’s teachers, have agreed to terms on Licensed Professional Agreement.
The agreement governs the day-to-day operations of teachers and also gives the Park City Education Association the authority to negotiate for teacher compensation. The agreement, which was ratified by the Park City Education Association membership and approved by the Park City Board of Education, begins July 1 and runs until June 30, 2016.
The previous Licensed Professional Agreement, signed in 2012, was due to expire June 30.
"It was pretty critical that we had a renewal of the agreement this year," said Heidi Matthews, a member of the Park City Education Association negotiating team and a library information specialist at Treasure Mountain Junior High. "Both sides were able to focus on their priorities and get it worked out."
Tim McConnell, associate superintendent of human resources, said the interest-based bargaining system the two sides used during the negotiations was beneficial. Under that approach, the parties work to understand the interests and motivations of the other side.
"I think the process definitely kept us focused on ways to try to solve problems collaboratively," McConnell said.
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A major tenet of the agreement is the formation of a task force to address issues regarding teachers’ planning time. Matthews said teachers often must juggle personal preparation, collaboration time and professional development.
"We were really grateful the district brought up that issue," she said. "If they didn’t, we would have. It’s been a big concern. There have been a lot of teachers and specialists who haven’t felt like they’ve had equitable prep time. We have so many additional expectations."
Matthews said the sides had hoped to reach a more wide-ranging solution to the issue, but it became clear it was too complicated to hash out in time to sign the Licensed Professional Agreement. The task force has met once already and will continue to meet throughout the next year so it can advise the next round of negotiations.
"This is such a big issue that we realized we weren’t going to be able to address it in the course of our negotiations this year," Matthews said. "Too many voices needed to be in the room for that."
The sides also moved language regarding the involuntary transfer of licensed employees into the Licensed Professional Agreement. The language dictates the decision-making process the district must follow when transferring employees and ensures proper notice is given.
The language had previously been attached to the Licensed Professional Agreement as a Memorandum of Understanding but was not formally within the agreement.
"We were really pleased about that, especially with upcoming grade realignment," Matthews said.
The two sides also clarified the role of the district’s insurance committee in negotiations, McConnell said.
Matthews said negations went smoothly in part because a member of the Board of Education — Nancy Garrison — was part of the process for the first time in recent memory.
"Honestly, having a board member be part of the negotiations was quite an asset," Matthews said. "She was just awesome."
Now, only one formality remains until the agreement is finalized: signing it.
"It’s a done deal," Matthews said. "It’s just a matter of putting the pen to paper."
The district and the Park City Education Association are still negotiating a compensation agreement. Both sides say the process continues to go smoothly. The sides were scheduled to have their final meeting Friday, and superintendent Ember Conley said she is confident an equitable deal will be struck.
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