Paris School contract talks get off to defiant start

paris school bldgParis School teacher contract negotiations began Wednesday with a defiant stance from both sides.

The teacher’s representative, Rick Moore, Southern Lakes United Educators executive director, gave an opening statement that included the assertion the union was not interested in concessions or givebacks, offered evidence that the district’s reputation for the highest pay in the county was false and said teachers are being wrongly scapegoated for the district’s financial woes. Instead, the state’s funding formula is to blame, Moore said. Their proposed salary schedule called for a 3 percent across the board increase for each of the contract’s two years.

Said Moore:

Everyone is justifiably concerned. However much to the union’s disappointment instead of an effort being made to better understand how the school district went in a few short years from one of the best funded in the state to one on the verge of dissolution, a scapegoat was sought out … Somewhere it became the fault of the teachers and their high salaries and benefits. To believe that is truly a shame…. Concessions and givebacks do nothing more than place a very temporary band-aid on a very serious problem.

The board’s representatives answered with astonishment that the union’s initial offer presented no concessions at all. Board members have stated at public meetings that they will be seeking significant concessions from teachers for this contract period.

Board member Glen Bennett, a member of the negotiating committee, said after the opening statement from the  union:

I didn’t see a single concession in here. You’re proposing nothing to help.”

Wednesday’s initial exchange of proposals will likely be the only open meeting of the contract negotiation process. Bennett and board President Leslie Holloway said they would be amenable to open sessions, but the union said they wanted closed negotiation meetings, as is typical for such proceedings.

This round of contract negotiations has been mentioned a lot in public discussions of the district’s financial troubles. An anticipated shortfall in revenue led the district to hold two tax levy referendums in the last year, one which failed and one which passed. With many pointing the finger at the district’s higher than average pay and benefits cost as a contributing factor to the district’s financial situation, the board has been under pressure to negotiate concessions in the new pact. Most recently, the outcome of these negotiations were mentioned by the Paris Town Board as being a factor in whether the town can make a contribution to the non-profit foundation set-up to benefit the school district.

Here’s Moore’s opening statement:

Note: We have video of Moore’s opening statement, which we will post later. We also will request copies of the district and the union initial proposals and post them. However, as the board immediately went into executive session tonight following the exchange, they were not immediately available to us.



  1. Northwestern Mike says:

    There was no chance to rebuttal Mr. Moore’s opening statement.
    How about the $390,000 Post Employment Benefits that consumes 90% of the $435,000 referendum amount? How about the 5% lane increase in the salary schedule for BA+12 or 21.9%-27.9% increase when a teacher gets a Masters degree? A teacher needs a Masters degree to teach grade school? Give me a break. It’s about jacking up their salaries. How about a teacher that makes over $80,000 with a total compensation package of $125,000? Teachers making concessions is about giving the appearance of understanding residents’ plight and wishes. Mr. Moore is totally out of touch. The board should have opened allowed residents to respond to Mr. Moore’s statement and should have opened the negotiations to residents.

  2. Northwestern Mike says:

    Be aware, that the residents I talked to after this meeting were very unhappy about Mr. Moore’s position. Residents want concessions from the teachers.
    I personally say if the union won’t make concessions, than layoff teachers next year to get the necessary savings.

  3. Mark says:

    The teachers contract proposal is a slap in the face to all residents of Paris school district. The teachers assured us they understood we all must sacrifice to keep our school, but their proposal does nothing to help. The community feels the school board was generious with the offer of a pay freeze. I ask the school board to stick to their proposal and not give in to union which is out of touch with the reality of our district and community!

  4. 4 paris says:

    We all knew that the Union would pull something like this. We just have to remember that not all the teachers feel the way the union does,but they have to follow the unions guidelines. I am confident that out school board won’t stand for this and negoiate strongly. The union needs to realize that the school funding formula won’t be fixed or changed overnight and we need help now.

  5. Mark says:

    The teachers need to stop hiding behind the union . Their proposal must have been OKed by them before it was brought to the public.

  6. Northwestern Mike says:

    I agree, Mark, their proposal was approved before being brought to the public.
    I could be a negotiating tactic. The teachers’ contract is high and school board’s is low and they agree somewhere between. That means the school board’s offer should have been much, much lower. Maybe the teachers should think about replacing their representation by this union.

  7. Northwestern Mike says:

    In Mr. Moore’s attempt to pass the buck for Paris school’s financial problems to declining enrollment and decreasing state-aid, he conveniently leaves out the teachers cost in this calculation. Teachers’ high salary and benefits are 60% of shared-cost used in determining state aid. This high shared-cost is used in the tertiary aid calculation that REMOVES secondary state aid from Paris school. To say teachers’ salary and benefits are not part of Paris school’s financial problems is disingenuous.

  8. Northwestern Mike says:

    I need to make a correction to my last comment. As it is true teachers’ salary and benefits are part of shared-costs and that high shared-costs in the tertiary aid calculation reduces secondary state-aid, Paris school has moved beyond that. Paris school’s property value per member is so high that we are in the penalty stage, where the district only gets 85% of the previous years state-aid along with declining enrollment aid. With less state-aid more of the funding comes from property taxes. I apologize for any confusion.

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