The contract was given to the Bradley County Schools Attorney Chuck Cagle for counsel, but has not seen final approval by the board or the association.
Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said he had contacted Cagle to ask what could be done with the contract since the process had not been completed. The attorney said there was nothing the school system could do because it would not be able to negotiate any issues, if any, left in the agreement and the law would not allow it to any accept any terms now prohibited, such as those based on seniority.
“We will continue operation as normal. Nothing has really changed in the way we are running schools and (we will continue) treating our employees with utmost respect, as we always have,” McDaniel said.
If the negotiations had been completed and the agreement was accepted by the Board of Education and the association, then the contract would have remained in effect.
The law, called the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of 2011, was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on June 1. Instead of coming to the bargaining table, teachers’ associations and the Board of Education will collaborate on terms and agreements. However, the law limits the discussion to issues of “salaries or wages; grievance procedures; insurance; working conditions; leave; payroll deductions; and fringe benefits, not including pensions or retirement programs of the Tennessee consolidated retirement system or locally authorized early retirement incentives,” according to the General Assembly summary. The local Board of Education will have the final authority on any agreements.
The director of schools will still be allowed to discuss any and all issues with the teachers.
School systems will be required to have training in collaborative problem solving by July 2012 and develop an employee handbook. McDaniel told the school board Cleveland City Schools already operates without collective bargaining and already uses an employee handbook.
Today, McDaniel is attending a meeting of the board of directors for the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, of which he is a part, to discuss and learn about the collaborative agreements and process outlined in the law.