The Central Consolidated School District must remain competitive with teacher and staff salaries – especially to attract new teachers, and to keep our experienced ones.

CCSD teachers and hourly employees are still paid more, at every step, than in Farmington and other surrounding school districts in San Juan County. It is in our best interest to pay highly competitive wages. Our new 2014-15 salary schedule recognizes teacher experience to the 44 year mark. It previously had stopped at 25.

But we could have done even better on pay for teachers and hourly employees if the union had not blocked us through regressive bargaining, which led us to an impasse in regular negotiations and into mediation, where they failed to act upon a stronger offer. The union leadership wants to practice socialism, which would prevent the District from keeping its best teachers.

I set the Central Consolidated School District's 2014-15 salary schedules on July 18, 2014, based upon our budget approved by the School Board; and the mandate by the state to include an average of 3 percent salary increases for the new school year.

It is the responsibility of the superintendent to ensure the District continues to operate uninterrupted, and to follow state law, which we did. We have a responsibility to our teachers and staff, and most importantly to our students to get this new school year started now.

The CCSD 2014-15 salary schedules, which are posted on the District's website at www.ccsdnm.org, are the District's June 27, 2014 last best offer made during regular negotiations to the Central Consolidated Educators Association union leadership. That offer was made just prior to the start of mediation.

Unfortunately, and to the District's amazement, the union leadership did not act upon a stronger salary offer CCSD made July 16, 2014 during mediation. Our offer was relayed by the federal mediator to CCEA union President Mel Sharp.

We needed an answer by July 18, 2014 in order to follow state law to implement an average of 3 percent raises for the new school year. This District cannot wait for the union indefinitely; and follow state law and get the new school year started at the same time. Our teachers, staff, and students cannot be held hostage by the union leadership's inaction, or slow time frame on salaries.

The union leadership failed to act upon our offer of 3 percent raises for maintenance workers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and some other hourly employees who are represented by the union within collective bargaining; as well as failing to act upon our offer to give raises averaging 4.4 percent for teachers.

This was more money than the state gave the District for salary increases, and higher than the union's original proposal. The union's failure to accept this offer by noon, Friday, July 18, 2014, forced the District by law to revert to its earlier June 27, 2014 last best offer in order to meet payroll deadlines mandated by the state of New Mexico.

CCSD teachers are getting a 3.4 percent raise rather than the 4.4 percent raise. Non-union hourly employees will receive a 3 percent raise. Some union hourly employees, as stated above, will not receive a raise due to the union leadership failing to act upon CCSD's offer to include those raises. This is less than the District intended.

It is puzzling as to why the union leadership failed to act upon the July 16, 2014 offer in mediation, since it would have put more money into everyone's wallets.

 

Don Levinski is the Central Consolidated School District Superintendent.