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October 11, 2013

Barr-Reeve moves to impasse stage in talks

MONTGOMERY— Members of the Barr-Reeve School Board met Wednesday night for what on paper, looked like it would be a short meeting, but a packed house of concerned patrons meant otherwise.

Superintendent Travis Madison and teachers have been unable to come to an agreement on teacher contracts and have now moved to impasse. Typically, most schools have contracts in place by Oct. 1, or 60 days after collective bargaining can start.

Impasse will mean that a mediator, a third party, will be assigned to work with the teacher’s union and the school board to come to an agreement. The teacher’s union and the school corporation will split the cost of the mediation. The two groups can meet with a mediator up to three times during a 30-day period. After 30 days, if an agreement cannot be made, the two parties would move onto fact-finding. Fact-finding is similar to using an administrative judge.

“Negotiations are never easy,” said Madison. “This is a challenging time for every school corporation.”

Local patrons, many who were teachers or retired teachers, voiced concerns to the members of the school board over teacher pay, insurance and overall morale within the corporation among other things.

One retired teacher told the board that she did not feel things were going well at the school and she was worried. She believed spending at the school was out of control.

Board member Scott Lottes told the audience, “Education in Indiana has changed a lot in the last few years. We want to make Barr-Reeve as good or better than it has ever been.”

While costs for running the corporation have gone up, revenue for the school has stayed the same. In May, residents owning property within the corporation limits voted in favor of a referendum that would keep the close-knit Barr-Reeve Community Schools afloat for the next seven years. The measure meant that a new tax levy for up to 35 cents per $100 of assessed property value would be applied to property owners.

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