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S. Harrison contract goes to fact-finder

In an ironic negotiating strategy, teachers at South Harrison Community School Corp. are rigidly adhering to the terms of their former contract, which expired August 2003, while protesting the absence of an up-to-date agreement.
Teachers will not be monitoring extracurricular activities or participating in open houses. In fact, they won’t be doing anything that places them at school beyond their contracted hours of 7:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. unless they are paid to do so, said Evelyn Bell, president of the South Harrison Education Association.
‘The crisis committee will be meeting along with the bargaining committee to decide what actions to take. Nothing will be taken that will be detrimental to the students,’ she said.
‘Right now we are in a holding pattern,’ said Supt. Neyland Clark.
The teachers’ union and school corporation are scheduled to plead their cases before a neutral third party during a November fact-finding hearing.
The Indiana Education Employment Relations Board has selected Janet L. Land from Carmel to serve as fact-finder. Land has served as an IEERB labor relations specialist, hearing examiner, fact-finder and mediator from 1984 through 2002. Regardless of what Land decides, her decision is not legally binding and does not have to be accepted by either party.
Salary increases and insurance costs are the top issues under discussion. South Harrison offered a raise of 1.5 percent; the teachers asked for 2.5 percent. The state average last fall was about 2.04 percent.
The corporation board and bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement months ago, but it lost approval when put to a vote within the SHEA.
Despite escalating insurance premiums, no insurance increases would be passed on to the employee for the 2003-2004 year as part of the agreement, Clark said.
Administrators and school board members receive full health insurance benefits, though not all school board members accept them.
Clark maintains that more than 100 percent of new monies received in 2003-2004 have been placed on the bargaining table, and the corporation has offered all it has been authorized to by the corporation board.
In a previous interview, Bell said that the administration told her, ‘If we don’t have it, we can’t spend it. Right after that they hired an assistant superintendent,’ she said.
The corporation countered that it was filling an existing vacant position.