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Negotiations teams disagree on communications panel makeup

The agenda for the next negotiations meeting will look much the same as this week's agenda, with the same list of items still to be acted on. Although some headway was made on addressing issues during the July 27 meeting between the West Fargo Education Association and the West Fargo School Board, in the end, all agenda items were tabled for further discussion at the next meeting.

  Dominating the meeting, most of the discussion revolved around a shared interest by the board and WFEA members to develop a communications panel that could be a sounding board to help resolve issues that affect WFEA members, administrators, and the school board. While both sides agree that they want to develop a communications panel, the two groups have differing views on determining who should be on the committee.

After polling WFEA members to find out what kind of representation they would like to see on the panel, WFEA president Joan Connor said that she had received a lot of feedback from teachers and staff who indicated a strong interest in creating a communication committee, but only if it could be accomplished without the fear of retaliation. WFEA members have indicated that they would prefer to have direct communication between the school board and teachers without administrators on the committee. With low morale plaguing the district, Connor also suggested that adding a neutral party on the panel to act as an arbitrator might be beneficial.

  The board had earlier established that it would like to see the communications panel made up of a combination of teachers, classified staff, board members, and administrators, including the superintendent.

When no agreement between the two sides on the committee makeup seemed forthcoming, WFEA spokesperson Dan Wolf withdrew the proposal for a communications panel from the table. However, board president Tom Gentzkow said the board wasn't ready to accept that option at this time. The two teams agreed to bring the issue back to the table next week.

  The second item to be addressed was National Board Certification incentives. Wolf asked if the initiative would be retroactive, indicating that one teacher who had recently achieved national certification should benefit from the program, along with newly certified teachers. Connor also presented information about the process speech pathologists must go through to earn and retain certification, recommending that the district speech pathologists be included in the program. Karen Nitzkorski asked if the district has any school psychologists or other groups who should be included. Discussion on specific details of the proposed program will continue at next week's meeting.

  The board's proposal for a perfect attendence stipend is still being studied by both sides to determine what types of absences from school would qualify under the program. Jury duty was brought up as one instance in dispute.

  Robin Hill suggested that a committee should be formed to help come up with terminology for a sick leave bank policy. Aaron Knodel, Robin Hill, Louise Dardis, and Jolene Sand volunteered to be on the committee.

  The next negotiations meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday, August 3, beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Leidal Education Center boardroom. The agenda will include continued discussion on the communication panel, national board certification, perfect attendance, a report from the sick leave bank committee, personal leave, and salaries.