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Newtown Teacher Contract Goes to Binding Arbitration

School Supt. Janet Robinson said the arbitration panel has been selected and the process would be completed by mid-November.

The Board of Education’s contract negotiations with the Newtown teachers union are going into binding arbitration, officials said last week.

School Supt. Dr. Janet Robinson said there are a number of unsettled contract issues, but she declined to list them because the two sides have still not made their last, best offers.

The first comment on the matter was made by Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze at a special meeting held Wednesday evening prior to a joint budget discussion between the boards of Finance, Selectmen and Education and the Legislative Council.

Kortze said he expects to be among the town officials called to testify before the arbitration panel, so that meant he could not discuss any of the specifics of what he had observed as a liaison observer for the Board of Finance in the contract negotiating sessions.

Robinson said the arbitration panel has been selected, and she expected the dates for the arbitration process would be finalized by the end of the week.

She noted the deadline for completion of the process is mid-November. But the two sides could continue negotiations even while the arbitration process proceeded in hopes of getting an agreement on their own.

Binding arbitration was the compromise solution in the 1980s after a series of divisive teacher strikes that mostly hit Connecticut’s big cities in defiance of state law that prohibits teachers from striking.

When the sides feel they have reached an impasse, they ask the state to approve binding arbitration, in which the arbitration panel imposes a settlement.

Both sides pick an arbitrator and the arbitrators pick a third, neutral panel member. Then the sides make their final offers. The panel receives testimony to support the positions of the school board and the union and then must pick the position of one side or the other on each contract issue.

Thomas Crafts October 22, 2012 at 10:08 AM
This wont go well for Newtown. Its union thugs negotiating against union thugs, surprise, we lose.
Steven DeVaux October 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Form a new Regional school district with Monroe and hire all new teachers. Nothing says they have to hire back the old ones.
Vincent October 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM
I have 3 children in the school system and so far am very satisfied with their teachers. I think the people of Newtown should see all the minute details of the school budget including the raises certain people recieved including the one that the superintendent gave herself. The teachers are the easy target while the waisteful spending is disguised and hiden from the people of Newtown. I would like to see a detailed expense accounting of the superindentents office.
Sam Mihailoff October 22, 2012 at 11:21 AM
DITTO
yoda October 22, 2012 at 01:10 PM
No worries, when Mr Kortze is involved! One of Newtowns finest, very strong Jedi, is he!!!!!
C. Larson October 22, 2012 at 01:39 PM
It's too bad that many of the people commenting are uninformed on the binding arbitration process. In reality, neither side usually wants it to go this far, as there is no control over who wins on each unresolved issue. The arbitrators listen to each side as well as looking at contracts from other towns and the situation in the arbitrated town. The unions and towns have no control when it gets to this point. In the end the town wins since teachers no longer strike and student learning continues. As a Newtown resident, I would like lower taxes. If you feel that money is wasted on the education side, then you need to run for the board of education.
Vincent October 22, 2012 at 02:06 PM
You're missing my point. I'm not complaining about the teachers salaries, I want to see the claimed and projected expenses in detail of the superintendents office and system wide expenses. The superintendent gave herself a raise and proceeded with some layoffs. I don't have issue with the teachers up till now, they and others at the lower end of the scale are the usual targets. I do take issue with tenure protecting a bad teacher but if thoughs in upper management would do their job correctly the bad ones can be removed. I and some other parents do take issue with some others that work for the schools and don't do their jobs to their full capacity as needed. Maybe it's time for these other parents to start naming names of those they have had problems with. Our tax money going to people not doing their job.
C. Larson October 22, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Vincent I wasn't directly responding to your comment. Regarding tenure - any teacher, tenured or not, can be fired if the administrator documents it and the evaluation process is played out. Even a non tenured teacher is difficult to fire if it is for incompetence. They are usually "let go" for budget reductions. I am not in favor of the teacher union, I wish the CEA was more of an "association" than a union where student learning was valued as much as teachers rights. BTW I am a retired public educator with 35 years experience.
Susan Joy October 22, 2012 at 10:46 PM
I do not believe Newtown Teachers are part of CEA.
Obi-wan October 22, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Catie, you would be assuming actual documentation and evaluations. In Newtown, as we have seen in the past, this does not always happen. and as far as the arbitration goes, negotiators on behalf of the teachers love this as they set the bar high and usually end up falling right in the middle. if rational people sat on the other side of the negotiation table we would all be better off.
C. Larson October 23, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Susan you are right- my error. Newtown is part of the AFT not CEA/NEA. They are even more union than association. Obi-wan, I do not believe the arbitrators can chose the middle - it is teachers or board last best offer.
Thomas Crafts October 23, 2012 at 10:48 PM
We can just even up the numbers with layoffs.

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