Budgeting for Negotiations

How do people budget in a negotiation year when the budget must be done before the negotiations are complete? If you budget based upon your best guess for the teacher’s salary then you impair your negotiations as the teachers and union have access to the budget. If you don’t budget for an increase in the teacher’s salaries then you are likely to run a deficit that makes the next year’s budget more difficult to build. If you obscure the expected salary increases by sprinkling them throughout the budget then you are not being completely honest with the public.

  1. First of all, I admit that this is a hard and difficult question to answer. To begin with it is important to understand that most contracts have a provision that provides for the staff to receive a step increase or column movement if there are entitled to that regardless of whether a contract has been settled or not. The building of the salary expense will start with this in mind and will provide for that provision. As for not having the salary expense indicating the monies that are anticipated for settlement, I understand the inference that this suggest dishonesty with the public but I do not share that opinion wholehearted.

    By dispersing the settlement monies in other line items, I believe this in the best interests of all parties involved and is in the best interests of the public (after all we are charged with overseeing and being fiscally responsible of the budget). By doing this in this manner, I firmly believe that we are providing best practice in the public’s interests and keeping that in mind to insure that a reasonable and fair settlement is obtained. If full disclosure was being sought with regards to all the monies available for settlement, then that would put the negotiating team/board in a difficult and unsustainable position.

    Recently there has been a contract settlement that speaks to not having any step movement take place while negotiations are under way or until a contract has been settled. I am not clear on the details nor am I aware if this also restricts any column movement.

    For the most part the public has been understanding when we have been engaged in negotiations. Our response has been that we cannot speak specifically to any dollar amounts or percentage of increase during this process. This has not always been well received, unfortunately there is really no other response that can be given.

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  2. Each strategy mentioned has a downside, but the fact is you must choose. I think you can reduce the most undesired fallout by your individual districts circumstance. For instance, if you are part of a large SU in negotiations, choose option 1. You may be only 1 out of, say, 13. If you are a single district negotiating alone, your issues may be different. In all instances with a decision our board is about to make, I first ask myself what is best for the students, and then I ask myself what is best for my neighbors, the taxpayers – in that order. After all, those are, ultimately, the only people to whom I have to answer.

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  3. You simply renegotiate the contract date so that the contract is settled before you draft your budget. If the NEA refuses to be reasonable you simply impose a contract and fire those that do not report to work. The fines the labor board will levy against the district will be substantial the first year but in the next contract year the district and the students will no longer be held hostage.

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  4. Our district uses an amount which approximates our initial offer – In this past year this was a zero increase. It is possible there will be a small deficit as the result of our settlement but transmitted our resolve regarding our settlement.

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  5. For something like this, I would seek advice from the Superintendent.

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