GRANGEVILLE – Despite a looming insurance deadline, Mountain View School District (MVSD) 244 and the Central Idaho Education Association (CIEA) did not come to any agreements at the July 30 negotiations meeting for the 2019-20 school year.
Following a less than 15-minute meeting the previous month, CIEA handed over its entire proposal to board representatives Lot Smith and Rebecca Warden.
“We are not at an impasse; we are willing to stay here all night and discuss this,” CIEA president Char McKinney said when Warden said MVSD would need to declare an emergency to move ahead with the insurance renewal. “We do not believe there’s an emergency. The money is there – from insurance reserves and forest funds,” she said. She also stated CIEA has been asking to meet since at least April.
The board decided last year not to use the Secure Rural Schools (SRS or “forest funds”) for anything other than what they feel it is truly intended for – specifically to maintain facilities.
“It is well within your discretion to use that money to fund schools, so they run properly,” McKinney added.
Although the CIEA negotiating team wanted to start with a procedural agreement, Smith opposed this.
“We’ve had two attorneys tell us this is not necessary,” he said.
“Is there something you [specifically] object to in that [agreement]?” Joe Tosten asked.
“The whole concept,” Smith said.
The group discussed the sick bank and its procedures, as well as grievance procedure and reimbursement for credit.
“The main things we negotiate are wages and benefits,” Smith said.
McKinney agreed and said most of the issues the team brought up are considered benefits.
“A grievance policy and procedure are definitely a benefit to my employment,” she said.
The CIEA team urged MVSD not to cut the insurance benefits as they voted to do at the June budget meeting. The board made the decision to cover 40 percent for spouses/children rather than the 70 percent previously covered.
Smith said the insurance needs to be settled as soon as possible as they were against a time cut-off of Aug. 1 for renewal.
CIEA member Kevin Frances said one factor in him signing on with the district 17 years ago was the fact his dependents were then covered at 100 percent.
After some back-and-forth discussion on the issue, Warden asked, “Would you like us to say no one gets any insurance?”
“Salary and benefits are negotiated items. You do not get to make arbitrary statements,” McKinney answered.
“We definitely disagree on what the problems [here] are,” Warden said.
The CIEA team agreed that the insurance cuts will hurt more than 50 percent of its employees and many would take a $5,000 to $8,000 cut because of it; paraprofessionals could even owe the district money, they said.
“We are willing to work with you, but we do not see such a shortage that calls for this cut,” McKinney said.
The meeting ended without a future meeting date being set.