Contract Talks Stall Between Janesville School Board, Teachers Union

Negotiations between the Janesville School Board and the teachers’ union Janesville Education Association have stalled, according to leaders on both sides.

Board President Bill Sodemann and JEA President Dave Parr each said they are disappointed that an agreement couldn’t be reached to allow the district to fill a projected $9 million budget deficit next school year.

“They did not offer to pay any more toward health insurance or anything toward retirement of any sort. They offered, ‘Maybe we could make changes to the health insurance plan,’ which might save the district some money maybe,'” Sodemann said.

He said the board was hoping for more from the union during their negotiations.

Parr said the compromise they were offering could have saved the school district around $2 million.

“Our proposal was to change our health care provider,” Parr said. “We were going to go to a ‘point of services’ plan. We had talked to the district’s insurance consultant and they believed it would save the district 7 to 12 percent for the school district, and we thought it was a significant amount of money.”

JEA officials had offered to change their health care plans, and they asked the district to show them what the employee handbook will look like after their current contract expires. The handbook outlines hiring policies and benefits, like how many sick days the teachers will receive.

Parr said knowing what to expect in the future could have put some teachers at ease.

“The handbook replaces our contract,” Parr said. “Everything outlined in our contract will now be in the handbook, and that handbook is completely our of out control and is in their hands, as it stands under current law. The school board creates that handbook.”

For now, district officials will have to look for other ways to balance its budget.

“We can perhaps raise up to $2 million in the form of a tax increase and aid from the state,” Sodemann said. “So, roughly $7 million will have to be made up through cuts or going into our reserves.”

The teachers’ current contract expires in 2013, and that’s when the district will present them with their new employee handbook.