The Bradley County Education Association has responded to changes brought about by the Profession Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act.
The law was passed before the Bradley County Board of Education approved the contract with BCEA for the 2011-2012 school year. Because the law eliminates collective bargaining , the means by which the contract terms were drafted, the contract could not be approved by the board.
“The Bradley County Education Association is extremely proud of the relationship it has with the Board of Education. With the passage of the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act (PECCA), there will be changes in the manner in which we will serve as a voice for teachers. This should not mean, however, that our voice will not be heard,” BCEA President Barbara Harrison said in a written statement.
If the contract had been ratified by both the association and the school board before the bill was signed by Governor Bill Haslam, then the contract would have remained in effect. Haslam signed the bill on June 1.
Harrison said in the statement that the board and BCEA had reached an agreement on March 16. The contract was accepted by the association on April 11. The board of education then sent the contract to Bradley County Schools attorney Chuck Cagle for review.
“We had spent over a year negotiating the contract with the board’s team,” Harrison stated.
The law eliminating collective bargaining replaces it with collaborative conferencing. The law requires school systems to have training in collaborative problem solving by July 2012 and develop an employee handbook.
“The negotiations process in our county had worked well for nearly 30 years. It is unfortunate that every county in the state will lose bargaining rights because a few counties had problems,” Harrison said.
Until training is made available, the BCEA and Bradley County Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel plan to have monthly meetings, according to Harrison.
The law limits what the board of education and teachers can discuss, but does not place limitations on the director of schools.
The local board of education will have the final authority on all agreements reached through collaborative conferencing.
Harrison said some aspects of what the law will change are uncertain.
“By assisting teachers and support personnel we will continue to strive to create the optimum learning atmosphere for our students so they are able to thrive and be successful as more rigorous academic standards are implemented,” Harrison said.