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Teachers, NH near accord on contract negotiations

Teacher contract negotiations appear to be improving at North Harrison Community School Corp.
Greg Rupp, president of the North Harrison Classroom Teachers Association, reported the progress of the negotiations to the five-member school board on May 10.
‘The teachers think things have progressed as they should have,’ he said. ‘Both parties have been very congenial and have worked together in a spirit of cooperation … Problems have been discussed and worked out. Language has been introduced and rewritten until it was acceptable to both parties.’
Most of this progress has occurred within the past three months.
Rupp, who also teaches fourth grade at North Harrison Elementary School, said there are only two areas to consider before a settlement is reached.
‘The first item is financial,’ he said. ‘There is a fact-finding session scheduled for Aug. 8. This is an independent third party that is going to come in and listen to the state of the corporation’s finances from the corporation lawyer and from our lawyer … The teachers are willing to stand by those findings as a statement of fact and abide by the ruling.’
But the NHCTA doesn’t believe finances are the problem. Rather, they would like to see language added to their contract that would allow for binding arbitration.
‘It needs to be there to keep from embarrassing the corporation in a public forum,’ Rupp said.
‘In allowing binding arbitration to be entered into our contract, we can eliminate six grievances, nine unfair labor claims and one civil suit that have been filed in circuit court.’
Rupp is encouraged by the progress, saying both sides have a chance for a fresh start.
‘We are so close,’ he said.
Also at this month’s meeting, Supt. Monty Schneider said he doesn’t anticipate a need to increase school lunch prices.
Despite rising costs associated with deliveries, bids for bread and milk came in about the same as last year for the school corporation.
‘We don’t feel like we’ll need to raise lunch prices at this time,’ Schneider said.
In addition to bread and milk bids, the school corporation, for the first time accepted bids for commodity processed foods. These include beef, chicken and turkey items, potato products (french fries, hash browns, tater tots, etc.), pizza and cheese products.
Rising fuel costs may have reduced the number of bidders, though, as just one company ‘ Sara Lee ‘ submitted bids for bread. Seven firms submitted milk bids.
Bids were open in the administration building on May 2. Sara Lee’s bids were the same as those awarded for this school year to Earthgrains, with the exception of a package of 30 small hamburger buns; that price was 30 cents less.
After talking with Kathy Chinn, the food service director for NHCSC, and the cafeteria managers, Assistant Supt. Ken Oppel recommended awarding the milk bid to Louis Trauth, using its firm price, and the bread bid to Sara Lee, also using its firm bid. He also recommended that the commodities bid be awarded to B & B, using its firm bid.
The school board unanimously approved Oppel’s recommendations.
In other matters, the trustees:
* Agreed to accept several donations. They are $500 from Phil and Kathleen Jacobi to Morgan Elementary School for the school’s DestiNation Imagination team’s trip to world finals in Knoxville, Tenn.; a laptop computer from Matrix Integration, $500 from First Harrison Bank, and nine $100 savings bonds from Community First Bank, all for North Harrison High School’s Character Education Program; a $1,490 grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation to North Harrison Elementary School for its Nursing Home Service Project; a $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart Supercenter to MES on behalf of Dan Goins, who was selected as Teacher of the Year; and two $2,750 grants from HCCF, one each to MES and North Harrison Middle School for their DI teams.
* Approved the installation of a weather station on school grounds by Air Evac that can be used by the school to access weather and temperature 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
* Accepted Mistie Routh’s resignation as a special education teacher’s assistant at NHES.
* Appointed Buddy Bosler to serve on the Wellness Committee. The committee still needs a nutritionist or certified dietitian to serve. Others on the committee are Tonya Caffee, health-care professional; Kathy Chinn, food service contact; Lance Richards, MES administrator; Kelly Simpson, high school administrator; Lisa Jones, NHES administrator; Karen Lambertus, middle school administrator; Ken Oppel, administration; Carol Hoehn, teacher; Denise Redden, community member; Glenda Farris, food service manager; and Morgan Rumple and Megan Weideback, students.
* Heard from NHES principal Jones that the construction project is going well. ‘We’re beginning to see progress,’ she said.

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