No details have been released, so Unified taxpayers will just have to wait a little longer to see whether the state's repeal of the 1993 Qualified Economic Offer has also eliminated what many perceived as a spending cap. The law allowed school districts to dictate a contract, avoiding arbitration, as long as they offered teachers a 3.8 percent increase in salary and benefits. The QEO was widely believed to have held down teachers salaries and was a major target of teachers for years -- until it was repealed this summer during state budget negotiations.
The proposed contract will not be made public, according to a joint statement sent out by Unified and the REA this afternoon, until the REA ratifies it. Then the taxpayers will have three days to consider the tentative agreement, until RUSD's board meets to vote on it.
The statement from Unified says:
The settlement will become official after the Board of Education and the REA have ratified the tentative agreement by a majority vote. The REA ratification meeting is on Jan.21. If the REA ratifies, the tentative agreement will be released for public review on Jan. 22. Subsequently, the Board of Education will consider the tentative agreement during its scheduled meeting on Jan. 25.Before the QEO was enacted, school boards and teachers' unions often engaged in heated battles. Long-time Racinians recall the two-month teachers' strike in 1977. Supporters of the QEO have insisted that, without it, teachers will demand higher and higher salaries, irrespective of the local economy. Others, however, say this will not be the case. State Sen. John Lehman, who was a teacher before entering the Legislature, says teachers will be reasonable.
To facilitate the discussions, the parties used a problem solving approach to negotiations. The tentative agreement supports the North Star Vision and provides solutions to tough problems such as the current economic environment and closing achievement gaps.
He told the Racine Taxpayers' Association in July, "I have said to my teacher friends, 'Recognize that these are tough times and don't get greedy.' "