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Negotiations between HCTA and HCPS begin with a common goal for both sides

Bargaining negotiations begin

July 03, 2017 - Points of Pride

The setting for this year’s bargaining talks was in a room in a district building that is obviously being used as a storage area.  Eight-foot tables were placed end-to-end to form a very large, square seating arrangement that held the 20-plus members of the District and HCTA’s bargaining teams.  Members of both teams were introduced, as well as members of the public.  Mark West, General Manager of Employee Relations and Chief Negotiator for HCPS quickly got to work, reviewing basic rules for the negotiations.  Once the “housekeeping” duties were accomplished, Mr. West laid out the basic goals on behalf of the district for this year’s bargaining efforts, which encompass the following themes:

  • Maximizing the quality of the education we provide our students
  • Minimizing the impact of the current budgetary restraint on our district employees, including our teachers
  • Ensuring the very best teachers are in front of our students in our classrooms

West painted a picture for the group.  “We are here at the table in good faith to work collaboratively with HCTA to meet our mutual goals within the budgetary restraints we have been given.”  Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, Executive Director of HCTA, agreed that they also were at the table in good faith. “We share a lot of the same goals – filling our classrooms with the best teachers.”  Marie Whelan, Interim Chief Officer for Human Resources for HCPS, added that “we are focused on looking at our vacancies.” 

Topics of discussion ran the gamut from earlier deadlines for transfer period to putting the right people in the right positions, and as Jenkins repeatedly said “treating people respectfully.”  She emphasized that “we have to give people the ability to be their best!”  Opinions were shared, considered, and either politely agreed-upon or noted for future discussion, and then the group moved forward to the next topic.

At the halfway point during the meeting, the entire group created a schedule for the next four meetings.  Tentative dates and times for future meetings will be July 12, hosted at CTA. p.m., July 17, hosted at ISC, July 25 back at CTA, and finally, July 26 at the ISC.

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