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Letter: Keep class size out of teacher contract

The ISD 192 board of education (Farmington Area Public Schools) has in recent months been hearing comments from teachers regarding contract negotiations. I’ve listened to many of them.

I feel compelled to speak out as taxpayer/constituent. I want to be clear that I support our outstanding teachers — but I do not support the misguided idea of pushing labor negotiations that insert language specifying class sizes in the contract.

When the board decided last year that increased levies should be proposed to maintain the district’s financial viability and our quality of education, I studied the facts and reluctantly concluded that the board had done their homework and reached the right solution with balance.

Along with a majority of voters, I decided to support the levies. I agreed with the goal of optimizing class sizes. However, I did not support the levies to end up with union demands to lock class sizes into the contract. That approach is unprecedented, unwise and not acceptable to this citizen. The board and the union should not confuse goals and contract requirements. Haggling over hard-wiring class sizes into the labor contract does not serve our community, our students, or our teachers.

If the Farmington Education Association, as the union bargaining unit, continues to provoke an impasse and if a labor agreement goes this direction, educators risk losing the favorable community support they’ve enjoyed.

The issue is not what class sizes should be targeted, the issue is whether the board we elect, and the administration we put in place through them, exercise their fiscal responsibility.

I find it hard to trust a collective bargaining unit that brings forth this nonsense, apparently for the purpose of fostering an impasse in negotiations.

To our elected board, I say, on behalf of your constituents, please resist this pressure and keep doing your job responsibly.

Jerry Rich,