Monday, September 27, 2010

EDITORIAL >> Teachers in charge

The Pulaski County Special School District board’s support for detaching a standalone Jacksonville/north Pulaski County school district may be the first casualty of the unions’ recent success in replacing its opponents with supporters on the school board.

With the election of Gloria Lawrence and Tom Stuthard to the Pulaski County Special School District Board, the district’s powerful teachers’ union will have a reliable majority.

As badly as the union has been treated by the so-called board of four, it’s hard at first blush to begrudge it a turn at the helm.

In December, negotiators for the board and the unions agreed on a contract. The union ratified the contract and the board turned it down without discussion and began anew efforts to decertify the union as the employees’ collective bargaining agent.

We can expect negotiations to resume where they left off in December, and rightfully so.
But here are some other possible or even likely outcomes now that the union is in charge:
The board could rescind its resolution in support of a new Jacksonville/north Pulaski County district as early as Oct. 12.

A union-supported board member will replace Tim Clark as president, and will set the agenda.
School board lawyers Jay Bequette and Keith Billingsly, who like former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, always found a rationalization to tell the boss what he (or they) wanted to hear, will probably be fired.

Bequette and Billingsly will likely be looking to replace about $250,000 in billable hours they charged the district since January. Look for a union- friendly attorney to replace them.
Maybe John Walker would like the job.

No matter how transparent and cooperative new Superintendent Charles Hopson is, he’s unlikely to get a longer school day or year-round school aimed at a world-class education as long as the unions hold the cards.

Any effort to fire substandard teachers—and how can you have 1,200 employees without some bad apples?—will be dead in the water.

Merit raises will continue to be a nonstarter.

We don’t know if the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and the Pulaski Association of Support Staff have formal positions on creation of a standalone Jacksonville/north Pulaski County School District, but we do know that the unions are opposed.

First, there is the uncertainty of teacher reassignment. Who would stay with PCSSD, and who would be hired by an entirely new board to teach in the new district?

With one-third of the students going to the new district, about one-third of the teachers and support staff would likely go as well. Those are employees who would no longer be represented by PACT or PASS. The unions would lose one-third of their members and one-third of their revenues.

If a union wanted to represent those Jacksonville district teachers, it would have to go through elections all over again.

Depending upon the final district boundaries, Gwen Williams, Bill Vasquez and now Tom Stuthard all would lose their board positions with the formation of a new district. If they wanted to continue, they would have to seek appointment, then election to said Jacksonville board.
Buckle your seatbelts, this ride has just begun.

Payback is hell.