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Teachers union and Columbia Public Schools continue collective bargaining during COVID-19 pandemic

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia Missouri National Education Association and Columbia Public Schools continued collective bargaining Wednesday night. The two groups are negotiating in good faith.

The CMNEA sued the district in 2019 when it said it reached an impasse over a prerequisite for collective bargaining.

The district wanted CMNEA to go through a new state requirement in which the State Board of Mediation certifies unions as collective bargaining units. That was passed in House Bill 1413. CMNEA opposed the condition after a St. Louis County judge stopped the state board from performing those certifications in March over constitutional concerns.

A Boone County judge ordered Columbia Public Schools and the CMNEA to continue negations.

The Missouri State Supreme Court will have to determine whether or not it will be required to enforce HB 1413.

Negotiations were around several topics, including some motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One topic was around virtual teaching. The CMNEA wants teachers who are assigned to teach virtually to be provided a district space if they request it.

Nickie Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer with the district, said CPS already does everything in its power to provide teachers with what they need.

"And that could include if an individual said, "Can I do it from school?' Yes, if there's space provided. This last year there wasn't always space provided for individuals in that situation," Smith said.

She also said principals need to have some authority to determine whether space is available.

The association also wants the district to provide hotspots to teachers directed to work from home upon request.

One representative from the CMNEA said she had to quarantine twice over the last year and was only able to get a hotspot because the district had extras.

Heather McArthur, Chief Financial Officer, said the district is looking at using other resources moving forward.

The CMNEA also wants the district to include the association in discussions around unprecedented issues and their impacts.

Other negotiations were not focused on impacts of or similar to the pandemic. The district has come forward with a base salary increase by $500 to $39,000. The CMNEA is asking for that to be increased to $40,000.

The CMENA has also strongly pushed the board to make an effort to balance class sizes, which the district said it is doing.

Negotiations are not complete. There are still two additional negotiation sessions, and an alternate session scheduled. The last session is scheduled for April 6.

Boone / Columbia / Columbia Video / Coronavirus / Education / K-12 education / Top Stories / Top Stories / Video
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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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