By Ben Velderman
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – It’s over.
The acrimonious relationship between the Douglas County school board and the Douglas County Federation of Teachers came to an end last night when board members voted to officially cut ties with the teachers union.
During a previous meeting, the board discussed the possibility of having voters decide whether the district should be prohibited from: collecting union dues from employee paychecks; granting paid release time to teachers who spend their days conducting union business instead of teaching in the classroom; and engaging in collective bargaining with the union.
The ballot initiatives would have cost taxpayers $200,000, so the board decided to vote on the policy changes itself, said board President John Carson.
“The policy changes don’t go quite as far as all three ballot measures would have, if approved by voters, but they do declare it is an ‘unlawful breach of the fiduciary duty of this or any future Douglas County board of education’ to collect unions dues or use district dollars for union pay,” reports EdNews Colorado.
“The changes do not address a third potential ballot measure, which would have prohibited collective bargaining between the board and the union,” EdNews Colorado reports. “Board members did approve a resolution declaring current negotiations with the union have concluded.”
If a future school board does not follow the new policies, any Douglas County citizen could sue the board, the news site reports.
“If a future board wanted to change things, they would have to do it in a very public manner,” board President John Carson said.
The new policy allows the board to set policies they think best serve the community – without running them past the union for approval. For example, if the board wants to implement a pay-for-performance plan for teachers, the DCFT won’t have any power to stop it.
“This is a school district committed to education reform,” Carson said. “We are committed to paying our teachers better salaries based on results in the classroom.”
Board Vice President Dan Gerken was even more direct.
“We’re looking forward to a dialogue (with teachers), as opposed to these constant arguments with the union,” Gerken said, according to 9News.com. “They got used to some pretty nice perks over the years, a lot of cronyism. We’re just not putting up with that anymore.”
The board not only delivered a significant victory for Douglas County taxpayers, but demonstrated for other school board members across the nation how to stand up to belligerent and self-serving teacher unions.
In effect, the Douglas County School Board has said to the nation: “This is how it’s done.”
We hope Americans are listening.