By Kay Braddock
Amid ongoing teacher contract negotiations for the upcoming school year, the Terry Teachers Association, MEA-MFT has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Terry Board of Trustees and Terry Schools Superintendent Charles Deisher.
The charge stems from the school board’s decision to pay three individuals stipends for the summer open gym positions during last month’s school board meeting, according to papers served by the teacher’s union.
The matter was discussed during Tuesday evening’s board meeting.
“They told us we did not have to negotiate the summer open gym position,” school board chairman Brian Morast said of the advice he and other board members received from the Montana School Board Association.
“He assured me at the time that this was not a teaching position, an extra curricular position,” board member Sherry Strasheim said of the advice she had received from the MTSBA, noting if the open gym position were classified as such the board would have to negotiate with the TTA.
Casey Klasna, Sharilyn Kortum and Jasmine Freiboth were hired to fill the part-time summer positions. Klasna, who also works for the school district as a history and physical education teacher, was approved at a $600 rate, while Kortum and Freiboth each receive $200.
Klasna opens the gym and weight room for students three times a week, while Kortum and Freiboth open the gym and weight room once a week, board members said, explaining the difference in pay.
“Remember the intent of this was to – instead of doing this for free – was to give them a little bonus or stipend for their efforts,” Deisher said, explaining in previous years, those who served in the summer supervisor role at the gym or weight room were not compensated.
“The cost of this could be up into the thousands,” Strasheim said of the district’s decision of whether to pursue the matter or drop it.
“It’s a little longer term than just this one issue,” board member Jason Higgins said, explaining the district may need to pursue this matter in order to keep future charges from occurring.
“To me, it just comes to the point, you just close the gym,” board member Scott Fredrickson said.
The board agreed to receive legal counsel from the MTSBA on how to act on the matter. Teacher contract negotiations are scheduled to resume on Friday.
Attempts to reach TTA President Susan Tyler or MEA-MFT East Field Consultant Maggie Copeland were unsuccessful.
June 17, 2009