March 2010 Volume 8, Number 3
If your board of education and administration are not looking at some significant budget cuts for the next fiscal year, you are among the fortunate few in Missouri. The state revenue situation is dismal. Local property tax collections are declining in some areas of the state. It’s not a pretty picture for public schools in Missouri right now and things may not improve much, even when the economy recovers. Now more than ever, those of you serving on local school boards are a critical part of the budgeting process. Not only do you make the ultimate decision about budget reductions, you also play an important communication role in explaining your decisions to your patrons. The process you use to determine your budget priorities is key. It’s essential that your process involve conversations with stakeholders and that it is perceived as rational. We talk a lot in our workshops about data-driven decision-making. Now is the time to use data to evaluate programs based on their impact on student achievement. It’s much easier to make your case for budget reductions if you can demonstrate how programs do or do not positively impact student achievement. Unfortunately, there are people and organizations ready to take advantage of our financial challenges by making unrealistic and misleading claims about generating additional revenue for our school district. It’s understandable that you want to look for every conceivable way to generate additional revenue and minimize potential budget cuts. I simply urge you to be careful and check out those who may be trying to take advantage of your stress. You can learn more about our current financial situation and how some school districts are managing their budgets by watching ”Weathering the Financial Storm,” a web cast produced by MSBA, the Missouri Association of School Administrators and the Missouri Association of School Business Officials. The free video program will be posted on MSBA’s Education Solutions Global Network at www.esgn.tv by March 17. (Continued on next page)
Missouri School Boards’ Association
Senate Leader Wants to Fully Fund the Foundation Formula Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) says the legislature should find a way to fully fund the school foundation formula for the next fiscal year, even if that means deeper cuts in other programs. Sen. Shields made the remarks during the 2010 MSBA Legislative Forum held on February 16 in Jefferson City. The Senate leader told the audience, “I think the legislature made a commitment and we need to uphold that commitment.” The General Assembly would have to find an additional $87 million elsewhere in the state budget in order to fully fund the phase in of the new foundation formula, which is the main state aid program for Missouri’s public schools. Shields said some additional cuts might have to come from the so-called categorical programs such as transportation and career ladder, but that at least some of the additional funding would have to come from areas in the proposed state budget other than K-12 education. Governor Nixon has proposed an $18 million increase in the foundation formula for the coming year, far less than the amount required under the phase in of the new formula. Nixon also spoke at the Legislative Forum and told the audience he has had to make some difficult budget choices due to rapidly falling state revenue including cuts to corrections, mental health and social services. But he said he was determined not to cut K-12 funding in his proposed budget. Another speaker at the Legislative Forum, House Speaker Pro Tem Brian Pratt (R- Blue Springs) said he thinks the House of Representatives will fully fund the formula, but he warned school board members and administrators not to count on getting every dime even if the formula is fully funded due to revenue shortfalls. He added, “This year is tough, but I cannot describe how difficult next year will be.” He was referring to the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011.
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District Collective Bargaining Policy Found Unconstitutional District Could Legally Discipline Student for Off-Campus Electronic Threat Spring Meeting Schedule District Spotlight - Neosho R-V A Reminder When Non-Renewing Teachers
“Carter’s Comments” continued
We’re entering into a new world. The money to support everything we have been doing in our schools is not there and may not be there for some time to come. The decisions you make today will have significant implications for the future of your school district. But if you keep focused on maintaining and even improving the education you provide for your students, you’ll make the right choices.
Carter D. Ward, Ph.D. MSBA Executive Director
Negotiations Should Focus on Student Achievement, says Bargaining Expert It’s critical that school boards and administrators keep the focus on student achievement during collective bargaining negotiations. That’s according to Ron Wilson, the executive director for the North American Association of Educational Negotiators. He spoke during MSBA’s 2010 Labor Relations PreForum on February 15 in Jefferson City. Wilson told board members and administrators attending the event that research from states that have had collective bargaining for many years indicates that collective bargaining agreements raise the cost of education children by about 15%, while unions have only a modest effect on student achievement. Wilson said preparation is the key to successful negotiations and that it’s important that boards and administrators come to the bargaining table “with an open mind, but not an empty mind.” He stressed that school boards in Missouri are in a unique position to learn from mistakes made in other states since collective bargaining is new to the state. He urged school boards to be cautious about what is included in the first collective bargaining agreement in a school districts since he said, “Once things are in a collective bargaining agreement, they tend to stay there.”
A Reminder When Non-Renewing Teachers Unfortunately, many districts are considering non-renewing probationary teachers due to financial circumstances. Please remember that probationary teachers must be notified in writing no later than April 15, if they will not receive a new contract from the district. If the teacher is non-renewed for financial reasons, a decrease in enrollment or reorganization of the district, the written notice must state the reason for the non-renewal. If the decision was made for other reasons, the district is only required to provide written reasons upon request. For more information regarding non-renewal or reduction in force, see the January edition of MSBA’s Missouri School Employment News on MSBA’s website at www.msbanet.org.
District Collective Bargaining Policy Found Unconstitutional For years the Bayless School District had a policy and practice where teachers elected representatives from each school building to serve on the district’s negotiation team. In 2008 the Bayless Education Association (BEA), the local affiliate for the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) collected signature cards requesting that the Board recognize the affiliate as the exclusive representative of the teachers for collective bargaining purposes. After consideration, the Board decided to continue with the past practice of recognizing representatives from each building. When elections were held, not all the elected teacher representatives were members of the BEA. BEA sued the district, claiming that the district’s process violated the teachers’ right to collectively bargain under the Missouri constitution because the term “collective bargaining” presumes exclusive representation by one union. The court refused to rule on whether or not collective bargaining requires exclusive representation, but held that the district’s policy was unconstitutional because it established a process of “collaborative bargaining, not collective bargaining.” The court then ordered the Board to rescind the policy and hold an election where teachers could choose between no representation and BEA. In the decision the court specifically distinguished the policy in this case from the policy addressed in Springfield-NEA v. The School District of Springfield, R-12, MSBA’s Policy HH (version 2) that allows all teachers in the district to vote on whether or not they would like to be represented by more than one union. The Springfield court found MSBA’s policy constitutional, and that decision still stands. If a district has a policy or practice similar to the one used by the Bayless School District, the Board may continue to use that policy as long as the teachers are not interested in collective bargaining. However, once district teachers seek to exercise their rights to collectively bargain, MSBA recommends that the districts consult an attorney. For more information on Bayless Education Association v. Bayless School District, contact the School Laws Department at 800-221MSBA (6722).
Practical Personnel Law Workshop Addresses Timely Topics School board members and district personnel gathered in Columbia on February 23rd to attend MSBA annual Practical Personnel Law Workshop. Attendees received valuable training on a number of tricky legal topics including dealing with injured and sick employees, drug testing of employees, the Missouri State High Patrol’s criminal background check system and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Kelli Hopkins, MSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Board Services, also unveiled and explained MSBA’s new sample employments contracts.
District Spotlight Neosho R-V School District â€˘ Region 9
St. Louis City
St Louis Gasconade
8 Southwest Alternative Education Center opened its doors on the first day of the spring semester during 13 the 1996-97 school year. During the spring of 1995, superintendents from East Newton, McDonald County, 10 15 9 11 14 Neosho, and Seneca began working toward forming a collaborative group to address the needs of the area to develop an alternative high school program. The creation of Southwest Alternative Educational Center would allow high risk students access to a comprehensive high school educational program recognized by the district high school for completion of credits needed to graduate. Partially funded by a Missouri Safe School Grant, the alternative program originally served 55 high school students from the four sending schools. The campus, centrally located in an historic building that once served as the Neosho Intermediate School, is still home to 56 students in grades 9-12, referred by two sending school districts: McDonald County and Neosho R-5. Staffing includes 6 certified classroom teachers, an administrative assistant, and the director. The primary purposes of SWAEC are: 1) to provide an alternative setting for students to reduce the potential for entrenched patterns of violent or socially unacceptable behavior 2) To teach academic/social/vocational skills to students with patterns of chronic misbehavior and to provide an opportunity to complete high school in an environment conducive to future employment 3) To establish individual educational plans to ensue the completion of school by targeted students at-risk. Today, 14 years after the inception of Southwest Alternative Education Center, 203 students have earned their high school diploma with a success rate averaging between 80-85%. Teachers are reactive in dealing with students who are abusive, disruptive, violent, and/or in danger of dropping out of school. They also remain dedicated to a pro-active component that is preventative in regard to training students at a younger age to avert conflict situations and correct behavioral problems. For more information contact: Debbie Roach, Director of the Alternative School at: 417-451-8616 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. St Clair
Ste Genevieve St Perry Francois Madison
District Could Legally Discipline District Students for Off-Campus Electronic Threat
Teacher Contract Cannot be Terminated for Refusal to Violate Law
A student using instant messaging notified another student he was going to get a gun and kill certain classmates. The communication took place off campus, but once the school community learned of the threat several parents and students contacted the school with safety concerns. School administrators spend several days addressing the concerns and the district increased security at the school. The district suspended the student for the majority of the school year. The student sued, claiming that the discipline violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The student argued that the law allowing more control over student speech in schools should not be relied upon by the court because the speech occurred off campus. The court, however, determined that the student should have reasonably known that such a threat would reach the school environment and held that the studentâ€™s speech was not protected under the First Amendment because it was a threat. For more information on Maris v. Hannibal Public School District contact the MSBA School Laws Department at 800221-MSBA (6722).
A military academy contracted with a teacher, but terminated the contract claiming that the employee was disrespectful to supervisors. The employee sued for wrongful discharge, claiming that he was terminated because he insisted that the school report the potential abuse of a student. The Missouri Supreme Court held that a contracted employee could bring a wrongful discharge claim when terminated for refusal to perform an illegal act. Because the employee was required by law to report potential child abuse, following a directive not to report the abuse would be an illegal act. For more information on Keveney v Missouri Military Academy contact the MSBA School Laws Department at 800221-MSBA (6722).
Committee Positions Available As a grass roots association the Missouri School Boards has numerous standing committees that are vital to the organization. Each Spring, following board member elections, there are some committee vacancies. If you are interested in becoming more involved in your Association, please contact Barbara Stephens at 800221-MSBA (6722), ext. 334, for information on current vacancies.
MSBA’s Spring Regional Meeting to Have Four Focus Topics Board members and superintendent have many concerns as school funding continues to drop. The 2010 MSBA Spring Regional Meeting will address four areas of great concern: 1) Fiscal/Budgeting Issues 2) Pay for Performance 3) Evaluation – Teacher, Staff and Superintendent 4) New Directions at DESE (Race to the Top). Make plans to join us. Region Date Location 1 Monday, May 3 St. Joseph* 2 Wednesday, May 5 Chillicothe R-II 3 Tuesday, April 20 Hannibal 60 4 Wednesday, April 28 Raytown C-2 5 Thursday, April 15 Marshall 6 Wednesday, May 5 Centralia R-VI 7 See Below 8 Wednesday, April 21 Eldon R-I 9 Tuesday, April 27 Joplin R-VII 10 Tuesday, April 27 Republic R-III 11 Tuesday, May 4 Van Buren 12 Tuesday, April 20 Steelville R-III 13 Monday, April 26 Nell Holcomb R-IV 14 Monday, April 19 Dexter R-X 15 Thursday, April 22 West Plains R-VII 16 Tuesday, May 4 Clinton 17 Wednesday, April 21 Wright City R-II • Denotes date and location change from previously distributed information. Meetings start at 5:30 p.m. with a New Board Member Orientation and a Legislative Update. For more information and/or to register on-line visit our MSBA’s website at www.msbanet.org or call 800221-MSBA (6722). REGION 7 – The Spring Regional meeting for Region 7 is a Joint Meeting with CSD to be held Thursday, April 22 in Lindbergh in the High School Cafeteria.
Upcoming Web Casts & Audio Conferences MSBA continues to provide excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge and understanding in crucial areas. Save time and expense by accessing web casts and audio conferences from your own office. The upcoming schedule for web casts and audio conferences: Web casts: April 22 – Salary Compliance May 13 - Ledger Basics Audio Conferences: March 24 - Handbooks: What’s In, What’s Out? March 31 – Networking for Negotiators April 15 – Avoiding Sunshine Law Violations For more information call 800-221-MSBA (6722) and ask for Jeanie Rhoades, ext. 416 for web cast assistance and Jamie Fessler, ext. 303 for audio conference assistance.
Annual Conference RFP’s Due There’s still time to submit proposals for concurrent sessions at the 2010 MSBA Conference in cooperation with the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA). Concurrent sessions should address one or more areas of emphasis: • Student Achievement • Board Operations and Governance • School Law and Finance • Contemporary Issues in Education Conference attendees expect sessions to provide practical advice and the sharing of experiences. Interactive sessions are desired. Co-presenters and small panels are welcome, particularly those that address a conference topic from several points of view. Be specific about what will make your presentation valuable to attendees. Your proposal should be focused on innovative issues and working solutions and should address the conference areas of emphasis. To submit a proposal by March 19, 2010, go to the MSBA website at www.msabnet.org to accept the “Terms and Conditions for Presentations” and proceed to the online proposal submission form. For questions about the content of your proposal, contact David Lineberry at 800-221-MSBA (6722), ext.314.
Upcoming Events “Weathering the Storm” Available after March 17 The Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoAsbo), the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA, and the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) are combining resources and expertise to produce a web cast, “Weathering the Financial Storm” to assist school districts. The web cast is FREE to all Missouri school districts through MSBA’s Education Solutions Global Network at www.esgn.tv, or for more information call MSBA at 800-221-MSBA (6722) and ask for Jeanie Rhoades, ext. 418.
June 11 – 12 • Holiday Inn Exec Ctr • Columbia, MO
The Missouri Safe Schools and Colleges Conference July 22-23, 2010 • Tan-Tar-A Resort • Osage Beach, MO
board bulletin is published monthly by the missouri school boards’ association. address all correspondence to: Editor, 2100 I-70 Drive SW, Columbia, MO 65203, 800-221-MSBA (6722), Fax 573 445-9981 or email email@example.com Vol. VIII, NO. 3. Copyright 2010 MSBA. All Rights Reserved.