COLUMBIA — Public school teachers in Columbia will now have a chance to designate a single organization to represent them when they negotiate salaries, benefits and other conditions of employment with the district.
Columbia School Board members voted unanimously to approve the language of a ballot giving teachers two choices for representation when they vote on Oct. 11.
Either the Columbia Missouri National Education Association will exclusively represent them during collective bargaining, or the current policy, an informal mode of communication between teachers and district administrators labeled "meet and confer," will continue.
Susan McClintic, a second-grade teacher at Alpha Hart Lewis and president of the Education Association, said, if elected, her group would immediately start polling the district's teachers to assess their concerns.
McClintic said many teachers are concerned about the hours they are expected to spend at school outside of the instructional day. Depending on the school, she said, teachers are expected to spend between two and 10 evenings a month in meetings.
Rockwood, Ferguson and Springfield school districts have highly bargained contracts, which benefit both teachers and students, McClintic said.
"They have some fabulous contracts, and it shows in their results. Teachers are happier when they're better informed and better represented, and research shows that happy employees make for better results," McClintic said.
- Board member Paul Cushing submitted his letter of resignation. The board accepted his resignation, which will take effect Oct. 1.
- Superintendent Chris Belcher emphasized kindergarten readiness as one of the key issues he plans to work on this year. The district currently serves about 390 preschool students. Peter Stiepleman, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said that to expand access to high-quality preschool for low-income students, the district would have to put up most of the money. "We have to ask ourselves the tough questions, where do we want to put our money?" he said.
- Dave Griggs requested a formal letter of support for a proposed Enhanced Enterprise Zone in Columbia from the board. He said that proposed tax credits would bring more manufacturing jobs to Columbia. Board president Tom Rose said that the board would have to hold a public hearing about the matter before any formal show of support.
- West and Jefferson junior high schools are expected to be temporarily air-conditioned by the start of the 2013-14 school year, said Nick Boren, deputy superintendent and board of education secretary.
- The board passed a budget amendment with all members present in favor. Christine King, vice president of the board, was absent for the vote. The amendment added revenue from summer school and property taxes to the budget and allowed for eight and a half teachers, Linda Quinley, chief financial officer, said.
- The board did not vote on a second budget amendment that would hire 30 permanent substitutes in the district.