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Janesville Teachers Union Won't Open Contracts | Education

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Janesville Teachers Union Won't Open Contracts

The Janesville School District won't be closing its budget shortfall by opening the contract with the teachers union.

The district needs $2.1 million to balance this year's budget, money that could have come from its teachers.

"We're willing to work with the district any way we can, but opening the contract is not one the Executive Board has made as one of the options, no," said Dave Parr, president of the Janesville Education Association.

The JEA's 18-member Executive Board voted not to reopen the teachers' contract. Parr said the board's decision was based on feedback from its members.

"Very few members have expressed any interest in opening the contract. And when I say very few, I mean less than five and we have 750 members" Parr said.

School Board President Bill Sodemann said he thinks there could have been a different outcome if all of the teachers were allowed to vote.

"We're disappointed. We were hopeful we could use that to help solve some of our budget issues," Sodemann said.

The JEA's representative assembly is scheduled to vote on the issue Sept. 12.

Both the school board and the teachers union said it's likely the assembly's vote will not be different from the recommendation made by the Executive Board. Parr said a member could bring the issue to the entire body if he or she gets 25 signatures on a petition, but it's a scenario that Parr and Sodemann said is unlikely.

"I understand the teachers could still call a vote, that if enough teachers petition for a vote it could still happen, but we don't expect that to take place as far as we know," Sodemann said.

The district said it will now have to look at using some of its reserves, raising taxes or making additional cuts.

"We know that there are problems in Janesville. We know they were not created by the teachers. We believe as the School Board, and the majority of the School Board believes this is a community problem that needs a community solution," Parr said.

The JEA's representative assembly will meet Sept. 12 and vote to see if there's enough interest to take this issue to the general assembly.

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