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Following success of ‘Plan,’ it’s time for R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Aretha Franklin sang about. The staff at North Harrison is still looking for it. After four long years of little negotiation to settle our contract, the teachers are just looking for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. After four long years of non-negotiation and claims that the North Harrison Community School Corp. is broke, it is time for the school board of trustees to admit that their lawyer’s ‘cost recovery plan’ ‘ The Plan ‘ has been successful at North Harrison.
The Plan has produced overcrowding at two elementary schools where there was none before. So much overcrowding that we are spending millions of dollars to add on to North Harrison Elementary and are now planning to spend millions more to add on to Morgan Elementary. And we have one building, the Middle School Annex, with 14 classrooms sitting empty.
The Plan has reduced the staff ‘ 20 in three years ‘ and produced much larger class sizes in all four buildings. The Plan calls for not replacing teachers as they retire. We lost French classes at the high school thanks to The Plan. Fortunately, a retired teacher agreed to teach one class so that students needing their third year of foreign language could receive credits.
As well as The Plan has worked for ‘cost recovery,’ it has not improved labor relations between the school board, administration and most of the staff. The school board still refuses to carry out meaningful negotiations with the staff. The school board has yet to offer a realistic solution to this crisis. I keep hearing from the school board what a great contract we had; it was ratified in 2000 ‘ eight years ago ‘ and it expired in 2004 ‘ four years ago. It was a good contract eight years ago.
The school board bonded retirement monies as mandated by the state in 2004, but the process of finalizing the language to settle the retirement issue has never been completed. Teachers have lost four years to invest for retirement. The longer it takes to settle this issue, just one of many in the contract, the more the teachers and the school corporation lose.
In August of last year, less than six months ago, a Fact Finder for the state of Indiana found in favor of the teacher’s position on all four counts of the complaint. One of those was that the school corporation could afford the ‘meager’ 1.8 percent back pay proposed by the teacher’s association. Indeed, The Plan has worked and the corporation can once again pay their obligations.
It is time for this school board, my school board, to not only negotiate in good faith, but to negotiate with haste and settle the entire contract. It is time that the teaching staff at North Harrison is again shown R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the job that we perform everyday. It is time for the school board, administration and staff to work together to produce productive citizens from our students. This school board and administration demands that I be professional and show respect for my students and the parents with whom I work. Am I to expect less from them? As a professional, I can only demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T from them as well.
Dan Haskell of Corydon is a teacher in the North Harrison Community School Corp.