July 29, 2014

School districts face uncertainty

There are more questions than answers, as school districts grapple with a court decision on Act 10.Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators Executive Director Miles Turner said local administrators are in a “fact finding mode” – trying to determine the implications of last week’s ruling by a Dane County judge. “There’s a lot of confusion out here right now, and what we’re trying to do is simply get the facts and implement whatever the law is, as understood to be accurate,” he said.

AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:10)

There are also a host of unanswered questions in the wake of the ruling by Judge Juan Colas. “Is this a local ruling or is it a statewide agreement? What if a judge in another community rules differently? What if there’s an injunction? Does this law go into effect immediately statewide, and do they immediately revert from their handbooks back to their master agreements? If they’ve settled their contracts, are those contracts binding, or would they have to be reopened?”

The ruling dealt with municipal employees in Milwaukee and school district employees in Madison – but broader impacts remain unclear. For example, could a contract be renegotiated before a stay is granted? Barry Forbes is staff counsel with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. “A collective bargaining agreement is such a complicated thing. If both a school board and a teacher union wanted to, they would be very hard-pressed to start and conclude a collective bargaining agreement in even a week,” said Forbes.

Madison Teachers, Incorporated is demanding that contract talks be reopened, even as Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen quickly seeks a stay to the ruling by Judge Juan Colas.