Board of Education announces budget cuts, suspension of Interest Based Strategies process in letter to MCSD staff
Following a day filled with negotiations between the teacher’s union at the Moffat County School District and the Board of Education, BOE President Jo Ann Baxter announced through a letter to the school district and its staff that the Interest Based Strategies process has been suspended in light of the current environment following the impact of COVID-19.
Interest Based Strategies is the process the school district uses when meeting and conferring with representatives from the Moffat County teachers’ organization.
Additionally, Baxter announced in her letter that the school district is facing roughly $1.7 million in budget cuts for 2020-2021, and that all salaries will be frozen at the 2019-2020 level.
Below is Baxter’s letter to the MCSD staff.
Good Afternoon MCSD Staff,
As many of you know, I am a life-time member of CEA/NEA. I have served as MCEA president, chief negotiator, and on the CEA Board of Directors. After my retirement from MCSD, I served on the MCSD Board or Education from 2003-2011 and then came back in 2015 to serve again. I have advocated for public education and education employees throughout my entire career. However, in light of the current environment, it is with great reluctance and a heavy heart that I announce that the Interest Based Strategies process has been suspended.
This decision was not reached lightly. Unfortunately, in the face of an unprecedented disruption in public education and the ensuing Colorado state budget crisis, the team representing MCEA continues to put forward ideas that are contradictory to the Belief Statements and Focus Areas of the MCSD Strategic Plan. Dedicating more funds to the salary schedule would be irresponsible. Reducing already limited professional development days and granting steps while taking furlough days to offset the increase to the budget is not in the best interest of our students nor fiscally responsible.
The MCSD Board of Education is absolutely committed to engaging in sincere collaboration with MCEA through the IBS process in the future. There is objective evidence that, for the past four years, the process is working for teachers:
- An increase of base pay for teachers of nearly 14% over the past two years.
- Average teacher salaries rising approximately 14%.
- Increases in teacher salaries have been greater than the average administrator increases.
- Reduction of teacher contract days. (2 contract days in 2016-2017)
- A more flexible leave policy.
- Added IBS meetings in the fall to better allow input for medical insurance benefits to match plan year.
- No increases in out of pocket costs for medical insurance benefits.
For the 2020-2021 budget, MCSD is looking at $1,700,000 in cuts. All salaries for staff will be frozen at 2019-2020 levels. Per the long tradition of the district, lane changes for education will be honored. As previously communicated, the MCSD Board of Education will not implement any furlough days and the district will not cut any currently employed staff for 2020-2021.
I have long supported collaborative decision-making and leadership. I commit to you and to the leadership of MCEA to continue our participation in the Interest Based Strategies process in the fall and it is my hope that MCEA leadership will embrace the principles of the process at that time, as well.
Jo Ann Baxter, PhD
President, MCSD Board of Education
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Moffat County School District’s COVID-19 dashboard indicates that positivity rates have remained low for the second week in a row.