Guest opinion

On Feb. 6, 2019, Mountain View School District Board Chairman, Lot Smith, wrote an opinion in which he continues to misrepresent the facts regarding the school board’s unfair and disrespectful treatment of our teachers.

Chairman Smith contends the salary schedule requested by the Central Idaho Education Association (CIEA) is unaffordable and unsustainable. The facts, clearly, show otherwise.

In October 2018, during a mediation session, the CIEA offered a supposal that addresses our concerns about the structure of the pay scale. In December 2018, the board sent a supposal (not an official proposal-misstated by Chairman Smith) to the CIEA and we are approximately $81,000 apart. We say approximately because the numbers they used have people on the list who no longer work for the district and have not since the end of last year. This is not about the money.

To put it in perspective, we currently have about seven people working for the district who make individually more than $81,000. A little more perspective is we take the approximately $81,000 difference spread out between 84 teachers, it is about $964 per teacher. To break that down even further take 964 divided by 188, which is the number of days teachers get paid for and assume about 9 hours per day. We are talking about $5 per day per teacher or $.57 cents per hour. It is not about the money. The board can afford to fix our salary schedule.

Chairman Smith also fails to mention that last year the CIEA offered a salary schedule that fixed the problems with our salary schedule, and cost less than the deeply flawed salary schedule the board insists upon keeping. In the July 2018 negotiations session with the district’s lawyer, the attorney asked the CIEA to present a salary schedule that the teachers could accept that was within the district’s budget. We developed a schedule fixing the salary schedule that was within the budget. The attorney caucused by himself for two hours and then requested mediation. The board has refused to meet since that day.

The board, after contractually agreeing to fix our salary schedule and publicly apologizing for our deeply flawed salary schedule still refuses to meet face-to-face with the teachers the board claims to respect.

“Chairman Smith apologized on behalf of the board to teachers who feel they were "leap frogged" when they accepted one-time pay in lieu of taking a step on the 2017-18 salary schedule. He emphasized that there was no intent by the board to do anyone harm with that one-time pay and that there were unforeseen consequences when this pay was agreed to be extended only to returning staff. With no way to correct these unforeseen consequences he again asked that the teachers please accept the board's apologies.” (Board meeting August 2018)

Chairman Smith also continues offensive and divisive rhetoric attempting to separate the teachers from their professional association. The CIEA does not attempt to separate the board from their associations, (Idaho School Board Association) nor from the law firm representing the School Board’s Association and the Mountain View School Board.

In a December 2018 board meeting, Chairman Smith stated he can name the six teachers who will be let go this year due to an alleged, not yet proven, expected $1.6 million budget shortfall for next year (full unedited video available on our website). The board has directed our superintendent to violate the Constitutional Right to Free Speech of our staff, by issuing letters of reprimand for speaking out at a board meeting.

Idaho is based on Citizen Legislature -- meaning, in part, that the elected officials need to be available to hear/talk to the patrons. Our staff feels disrespected and unappreciated by our school board. Many teachers fear speaking up for fear of retribution from the school board in the form of letters placed in their file or being placed on the ‘hit list’ of teachers that may be cut. Many teachers in our district are actively seeking employment opportunities elsewhere. It is not about the money.

CIEA contends the board’s view of a “stable, sustainable, approach” includes alienating and demoralizing our staff, running off good teachers, increasing class size and cutting important programs for children. As a community we owe it to our students to deliver the best education available, which cannot happen with less teachers, less programs and bigger class size. It is not about the money.

The CIEA agrees with chairman Smith’s statements that the State of Idaho under funds public schools and that communities must rely on supplemental levies to meet the needs of our schools. The CIEA believes the board and the teachers have much common ground with which to work in the interests of our staff, school board, community and students.  

The CIEA has again and again requested face-to-face meetings and are doing so again in the paper. The CIEA asks the Mountain View School Board of Trustees come to the table to sit down, face-to-face, in an open, public meeting, to fix the salary schedule we both agree is deeply flawed. The only way to have a civil discourse is to talk about the issues. You can bring your full-time superintendent, full-time business manager and lawyer to advise you, but we ask that individuals who have decision-making authority also be present. We will represent ourselves as we have done since the 1970’s. It’s not about the money.

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