Zionsville Times Sentinel

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November 14, 2013

ZCS teachers, administration still negotiating

The Zionsville Community Schools and the Zionsville Educators Association still have not agreed upon a teacher compensation model that will be consistent with Indiana’s new merit-pay law.

ZEA President Matt Mulholland said ZCS teachers’ collective bargaining agreement is in effect through the 2014-15 school year, so only the compensation model has been under negotiation this year to make it uniform with the state law.

The ZEA and administrators had 60 days for formal bargaining, according to state law, giving them until Sept. 30 to negotiate the compensation aspect of the teachers’ contract. When an agreement hadn’t been reached at that time, state statute required an impasse to be declared and mediation begun within 15 days.

State law permits 30 days for mediation. Mulholland said Wednesday, Nov. 20, is the deadline by which any mutually acceptable contract would need to be ratified. According to the Indiana Department of Education website, a “last best offer” — which cannot result in deficit financing — must be presented by each side at the last mediation meeting.

“We’re still in process and talking, which is obviously very good,” said ZCS Superintendent Scott Robison on Monday, Nov. 11.

However, if an agreement still is not reached during mediation, fact finding must begin within 15 days of mediation ending. While mediation is a confidential and closed process, fact finding is done in a public forum, although the public cannot comment. Fact finding presentations are restricted to two hours per side, according to the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board, with one hour per side allowed for rebuttal. The fact finder considers the entire package, according to the DOE website, not line-by-line issues.

The IEERB is a neutral agency that appoints the mediators and fact finders.

The fact finding process lasts 15 days, and state law requires “that factfinding must culminate with the factfinder imposing contract terms on the parties.” The factfinder’s decision can be appealed to the IEERB, and the IEERB’s decision can be appealed to a court of law.

Mediation and fact finding don’t come without a fee attached. Mediation costs $800 per day, and fact finding is $1,200 per day, according to IEERB. The organization also stated the costs are based on hours spent on a case in a 7.5-hour day and split equally between the two sides.

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