Email #1: From School District Superintendent to President of Teachers Council
At the behest of the Board of Education, I am instructed to file a request to open negotiations with a
duly appointed committee of the Teachers Council. As you know, after the failure of last year’s
referendum, our financial situation has been deteriorating. Our financial director predicts that in the
next school year, our fund balances will become negative by April 2016, before the county delivers its
property tax disbursement in June 2016. The Board of Education is seeking concessions from the
Teachers Council in the amount of $1.1 million in order to prevent a deficit budget for the 2015-16
school year. I would like to hold a meeting with your executive board to discuss our proposal and what
steps may be taken to open negotiations formally.
Email #2: From President of Teachers Council to School District Superintendent
Our vice-president and I agree to your request to open contract negotiations. However, I cannot
guarantee the passage of any proposal for financial concessions. Any such proposal would need to be
ratified by a majority of our member teachers. Our current contract was negotiated in good faith and is
set to expire in June 2016. Many of our members will wonder why the district’s financial shortcomings
cannot be fixed at that time. Our preliminary calculations suggest that reducing planned compensation
by $1.1 million, if spread equally over all teachers, implies that teachers who were expecting a 3% raise
next year would only receive a 1% raise. That would be a hard sell, when we consider that your office
recently recommended the creation of two additional administrative positions and is promoting an
expensive and unproven pilot program in student technology. There may be other ways to save $1.1
million without taking it out on teacher salaries. Notwithstanding these concerns, we will appoint a
committee to discuss the matter further under open negotiations.
Email #3: From Board of Education to President of Teachers Council
Thank you for agreeing to open negotiations. As you know, employee salaries and benefits make up
nearly two-thirds of our operating budget, so it is difficult to imagine a $1.1 million reduction in
expenses without touching salaries. Some other districts are bluntly reducing staff rather than seeking
to spread out the concessions necessary to run a school district without a deficit.
In fact, deficit spending is its own reduction in force, as the tax anticipation warrants necessary for us
to borrow money cost tens of thousands of dollars in interest – enough money to pay for one or two
excellent teachers. We look forward to discussing this matter with you as soon as possible. We
guarantee media silence until such time as a formal proposal is ready to be shared with teachers and
with the community.
Consider each of the following statements. Does the information in the three sources support the inference as stated?
The Board of Education has unilateral authority to alter conditions of the collective bargaining contract with the teachers in this school district.
A major concern of the Board of Education is to ensure that the school district maintains a balanced budget.
A concessions proposal will be easy for teachers to ratify since they would still get a raise according to the preliminary calculations.
If the concessions proposal is not approved by teachers, the Board of Education may seek to fire a certain number of teachers in order to balance the budget.