Concerned by relations at school

To the editor:

I am appalled by the current relations among the Mt. Pleasant school board, superintendent, faculty and community. The level of confidence by the faculty in its superintendent has been publicly stated in a quantified and qualified manner.

There is value in a written contract. I worked in the district when there was none and was in on the first negotiations to establish a contractual working relationship between employer and employee. In negotiations, both sides present their positions and then work toward a common document to which representatives from both sides affix their signature. Most importantly, the contract can serve as a measure against which issues that arise may be solved.

The contract should eliminate ?as-you-go? decisions from either side. That idea has worked well for Mt. Pleasant in the past. This year is an exception. The new superintendent decided to apply a ?Hy-Vee? dress code to the district without input from the faculty and staff. It was presented in such a last-minute arbitrary fashion that employees were rightfully caught off-guard.

Another instance of an exception to contractual language this past year is with teacher attendance. Mr. Morrow raised this issue in his letter. Attendance lumped under one heading can be tricky. If a district administration requires that many teachers to be gone an inordinate number of days in any given year for professional development, the public can be misled thinking the attendance numbers are due to teacher choice.

Through the years, attendance types and limits have been negotiated and are clearly stated in the contract. Again, if a problem arises, the contract serves as a measure against which a dispute can be settled. If the number of days and the reasons why you need to be gone are changed without negotiation employees are left wondering where they fit in as they face decisions about their health and that of their families.

Trust dwindles as a day-to-day workplace environment is threatened by employees feeling that things are rapidly ?being done? to them with no ownership of the issues and no part in the solution of so-called issues. Trust- in any case- must be earned. Earned trust develops from a demonstrated effort over time of one?s researched knowledge of the issues at stake and one?s willingness to hear every differing viewpoint.

Asking the public to vote on an upcoming bond issue has everything to do with a no-confidence vote by teachers. The trust was not earned this year by the new leadership. The public?s wary attitudes toward being asked for a yes vote, indicates that perhaps much more work must be done over time by the superintendent and the school board.

Every teacher knows that mending fences with his/her students takes more time than building them in the first place. Sometimes they are so worn there is no mending them.

I hope that is not the case with the district that gave so much to me.


Karen Osborne

New London