Teachers settle contract with district

By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Argus

An agreement has been reached between the Caledonia School District and the Caledonia Chapter of the River Valley Education Association (RVEA), the union that represents the district’s teachers.

The contract solidifies a deal between the two entities through June 30, 2013.

According to RVEA President Janelle Field Rohrer, the terms of the contract do not include any major changes.

“It will be 1.5 percent increase this year, but there’s no retro-pay with the settlement,” Field Rohrer said, adding, “The big benefit is teachers in the last round that lost steps… they are gaining those back. That’s big for them to get back to where they belong.”

She admitted it was a tough

round of bargaining and that her organization recognizes the fiscal challenges facing the district but that the teachers need to be able to make a living.

School Board President Michelle Werner also expressed relief that an arrangement could be met. She said, “I’d just like to thank everybody for their hard work on this, and I appreciate everybody coming to an agreement.”

Teacher evaluations

In a semi-related matter, legislation from the state outlining teacher and principal evaluations is filtering its way to Caledonia – and all districts.

“This is a big deal. Every district across the state is wrestling with this and how they are going to do this,” District Superintendent Ben Barton warned. “It will be a tool we use to evaluate teacher effectiveness.”

There’s certainly the potential for this item to generate spirited debate as the law mandates that 35 percent of the evaluation has to be related to student achievement.

“That’s going to be the sticky one,” Barton said.

They key question is: what is a good assessment to use on each teacher?

Also in the legislation is a rule that there has to be an agreement between school boards and teachers on the process. If no agreement is reached the law says you must use the state’s model.

Barton said some of the evaluation standards might include curriculum design, classroom environment and management, instruction and professionalism. The plan also calls for growth and development plans and a peer review process.

Barton emphasized that this will need to be addressed and is an “eye opening” proposal.

Paul DeMorett, ms/hs  principal, said he’s also been following this development.  “The model the state has is almost done, so we can start with that and tweak it,” DeMorett said.

Barton went as far as to say, “This is going to transform what we do.”

 

Contact Emily Bialkowski at emily.bialkowski@ecm-inc.com

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