Janesville School Board invites teachers union to chat
JANESVILLE Janesville School Board members hope to meet with the teachers union soon. They don’t want to negotiate. They want to talk about what could happen if they did negotiate.
The board ultimately hopes the Janesville Education Association will come to the bargaining table to make concessions that would boost the district’s ailing budget.
But first, it could help if the two sides better understood the possibilities, board President Bill Sodemann said after the board met in closed session Monday night.
The board on Monday discussed negotiating options with its labor attorney, Mike Julka.
Julka reviewed what can and cannot be decided during a limited reopening of the teachers contract, Sodemann said.
Sodemann said his first call after the meeting was to JEA President Dave Parr. He left a message inviting Parr and anyone else Parr would like to bring to a meeting.
The meeting would be “to discuss our findings with them, just so we’re on the same page and can discuss what kinds of things could be done or not be done,” Sodemann said.
The board would relay Julka’s knowledge of recent legislation that allows a no-penalty reopening of the contract for the purpose of economic concessions by the union, Sodemann said.
Sodemann would not discuss the possibilities, he said, because the courteous thing would be to first discuss them with the JEA.
School officials have said that the possibilities include concessions on salaries, furloughs, pensions and health insurance.
Sodemann said once the two sides agree on what the rules are, that understanding might lead to more discussion.
Parr told the Gazette on Sunday he wouldn’t discuss the possibility of reopening the contract until after he meets with and gets guidance from JEA leadership on Aug. 29.
The board did not vote during Monday’s meeting, Sodemann said.
The only other item in the board’s agenda was discussion of a recent appraisal of the Educational Services Center, which is the district administrative and maintenance center at 527 S. Franklin St.
The board wanted the appraisal in case the city of Janesville is still interested in buying the land and building for a new fire station.
The board did not instruct the administration to approach the city. Rather, the district will wait to see whether the city shows more interest, Sodemann said.