Lot Smith

Mountain View School District 244 Chair Lot Smith explains the district’s offer to change the insurance proposal at the Sept. 5 negotiations meeting.

GRANGEVILE – “We have decided, after talking and waiting some time, to hold at the 70 percent for employee insurance benefits,” Mountain View School District (MVSD) 244 board chair Lot Smith said at the Sept. 5 negotiations meeting with Central Idaho Education Association (CIEA).

The MVSD board has previously voted to nix the district portion of the employee dependent insurance; at a subsequent meeting, the board voted to pay at 40 percent, a decrease from the 2018-19 school year which paid 70 percent on dependents. The Sept. 5 decision – if accepted in the contractual agreements – would put the amount back to status quo.

“We waited to see exactly where we were financially, and we’re in a little better shape than we thought,” Smith explained. “This will deplete the insurance reserve fund.”

Although the meeting started with some tension, by the end of the meeting, attendees seemed hopeful.

Following an hour of conversation on contracts, insurance and benefits, the two sides caucused and came back together ready to move forward.

“Thank you – the movement forward is very appreciated,” CIEA president Char McKinney said. “In light of your obvious effort, we don’t want to mess it up with any rash decisions. We are thrilled we are actually negotiating.”

McKinney said the CIEA team would be willing to stay and continue, but they would need some time to go over what the district proposed. The parties decided to meet again Tuesday, Sept. 24, 5 p.m., at the district office.

McKinney said she appreciated the MVSD team creating an agenda for the meeting, but feels the CIEA needs to have some input, as well.

“With regards to this, the purpose is just to give some structure to the meeting and expediate the process of bargaining,” acting MVSD superintendent Woody Woodford explained.

McKinney agreed, adding they would simply like “some input in the ground rules.”

“It’s a starting point,” Smith said, adding their team members’ scheduled are now more flexible regarding times to meet and for gathering information.

The teams went through a variety of items with the teacher contracts, including sick leave time and grievance policy, and, a lengthy talking point – a salary and/or career allocation schedule.

“We want to fix the schedule so there’s more equitable distribution,” McKinney stated. “That’s what we’ve wanted all along.”

Smith said the state has to correct its plan of trying to entice new teachers by paying higher starting salaries when good teachers also need to be retained. CIEA will look at the contracts and numbers provided by MVSD and come to the next meeting with a counterproposal, questions and suggestions.

CIEA was represented by McKinney and teachers Katrena Hauger, Joe Tosten and Kevin Frances. MVSD was represented by Smith, Woodford, trustee Rebecca Warden and district business manager, Becky Hogg.

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