Long-term damage from salary standoff

Calling the state of negotiations between Carson City teachers and the school board an impasse hardly describes the damage that has been done to the relationship between the two.

We don't expect the ill will over a new contract to go away for years, and that will be a difficult thing to measure in terms of the success of Carson City students.

The negotiations have been going on for a year, but as a practical matter they're done. An arbitrator is scheduled to hear both sides next month and decide for one side or the other. It's winner take all - but no one is going to come out feeling like a winner in this one.

We took teachers-union picketers to task a few months ago for excoriating a school board member. Now it's the school board's turn to apologize for walking out on teachers who wanted to talk to them during a board meeting last week.

It's true that both sides were supposed to keep their negotiations to the bargaining table. But these are public employees and elected officials talking about taxpayer money paying for the education of their children. The public needs to hear the issues.

The ugly scene that erupted when the meeting ended abruptly will leave a tarnished image of the Carson City School District - which is sad and unfortunate, because this is a district whose leaders and teachers work hard day in and day out to create opportunities to inspire not only students but the whole community.

How much better it would be if the lasting image from the week were the all-school band and choir concerts, and the Classified Employee of the Year award.

The arbitrator will have a difficult decision to make, because there are strong arguments on both sides. We agree with teachers the Legislature intended the money it appropriated to go toward a 2 percent raise. We also see the school board protecting tax dollars in a tight budget, which is its authority.

Perhaps the process was headed inevitably toward arbitration from the beginning. If that was the strategy, then the school system has been dragged through a great deal of turmoil needlessly.


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