GRANGEVILLE -- After many hours of bantering and questioning numbers during the past week, it was clear Monday night, Aug. 3, that no agreements were going to be made.
“What is the number you are hoping to reach?” Central Idaho Education Association President Char McKinney asked at a meeting last week. “We would like to help come up with some creative solutions without decimating the district.”
This came on the heels of CIEA calling for a forensic audit of Mountain View School District’s finances, a request that was not answered in negotiations.
“It’s really unfortunate you want to penalize people who have been working, and you are choosing not to utilize the resources you have. There has to be a way to do this without it being so devastating.
MVSD negotiators, board members Brad Lutz and Melissa Kaschmitter, held on the line that all spouses/dependent premiums would now be the responsibility of the employee.
“I’m not exaggerating – people are in tears. This is a huge chunk – it could be $12,000 a year for a family, McKinney said.
When McKinney again questioned why extracurriculars were not cut before teacher salaries and benefits, Lutz was bewildered.
“Extracurriculars are not only an incentive,” for some kids to finish school, he said, “But are also great for skill development and teamwork. It frankly surprises me you are suggesting we cut these activities.”
“We have to strike a balance,” McKinney interjected.
“In my mind, the insurance proposal on our part is pretty immoveable,” Lutz said.
At a subsequent meeting, following hours of discussion and a caucus, a tearful McKinney came back to the table.
“It is very painful for us to bring this offer back to you, but we are asking for you to not offer family coverage at all under the district plan,” for 2020-21. “That way, our families can qualify for subsidies and purchase insurance,” through the state buydown/Affordable Health Care Act.
She also called for the eight furlough days the board voted on last month for non-certified staff be reinstated. This was agreed to Aug. 3; however, insurance was another matter.
Business manager Becky Hogg had stated at that meeting she was not sure if MVSD could legally opt out of offering family insurance, and this was affirmed Aug. 3.
“As a large employer of more than 50 people, we have to offer dependent care,” no matter the cost to the employee, Kaschmitter explained.
“We have to get input,” from CIEA members, “Because this is big. This is clearly not where we [CIEA] have been headed with this,” McKinney said.
“I do want to emphasize, we are not an impasse,” McKinney added. “The insurance cut is just a huge hit and we have to talk to our members.”
The next meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 10, 5:30 p.m.