UPDATE: Madison Schools Closed Friday For Conference

UPDATED Thursday, February 24, 2011 --- 9:05 a.m.

From the Madison School District:
Madison Schools to remain closed on Friday

Friday February 25 will remain as previously scheduled – a day that Madison Schools will be closed to students so that teachers can attend a regional conference for professional development.

By collective bargaining agreement, the Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers, Inc. must mutually agree upon any changes to the school calendar. A timely agreement could not be reached about using February 25 as a makeup day as part of a plan to recover the four missed days last week and this week. Thus the original schedule still applies, meaning no classes on February 25.

When the plan to make up lost class days and time is finalized between the MMSD and MTI, the plan will be communicated immediately. “We realize that families want to know as soon as possible how days will be made up,” said Superintendent Dan Nerad, “and we will communicate as soon as a plan is finalized.”

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, February 22, 2011 --- 4:15 p.m.

Reverend Jesse Jackson visited students at Madison East High School Tuesday as they returned to class today.

Jackson marched with students and teachers to school and then addressed them outside the building.

Jackson said: "When students come alive you have the awesome power to make America better. When you choose hope over dope and life over death. When you choose sacrifice over greed. When you choose your future over funerals you have the power to make America better."

Jackson then went into the school to make an announcement on the school public address system to all students and staff.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, February 21, 2011 --- 6:05 p.m.

Madison Teachers Inc. says all Madison Schools will be open tomorrow. Rev. Jesse Jackson will march with East High students & teachers. That march will go from Fiore Shopping Center to East High School. At East High School, Rev. Jackson will address the crowd.

Press Release:

In support of MTI and other unions protesting Governor Walker’s anti-worker, anti-union proposals, the Rev. Jesse Jackson will be joining MTI members and students as they return to school tomorrow morning, February 22. Jackson will march with East High students and teachers from the Fiore Shopping Center (corner of East Washington Avenue and 1st Street) to East High School. Anyone interested in joining the group should meet in the Fiore parking lot no later than 7:30 a.m. Students, East High faculty, and those joining the march will walk together to East High School, where Rev. Jackson will address the crowd.

All Madison Schools will be open on Tuesday, February 22.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Sunday, February 20, 2011 --- 7:17 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Public schools in Madison will close on Monday for the fourth straight day as teachers are expected to continue protesting a bill that would strip their collective bargaining rights.

District spokesman Ken Syke said Sunday that school officials regret having to again close their doors, but he said they have received assurances that staff members will return to work Tuesday. School will resume then.

Syke said managing a fourth day off will be a significant hardship for families and the district appreciates their cooperation.

Madison teachers have led rallies against Gov. Scott Walker's plan to effectively eliminate collective bargaining rights for teachers and many other public employees.

Other school districts have also canceled classes, but the statewide teachers' union called on educators to return to work Monday.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Sunday, February 20, 2011 --- 7:15 p.m.

Information from Madison Schools:

Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 21 & 22, 2011

Due to substantial concerns about significant staff absences in Madison, the Madison School District is again forced to close all of our schools to students on Monday, February 21, 2011.

However, we have received assurances that staff members will return to work on Tuesday, February 22. Therefore, all Madison School District schools will be open to students on Tuesday and will resume with their regular daily schedule.

We understand that managing a fourth day off will be a significant hardship for families and do appreciate their tolerance in these unusual times. We are heartened that schools will be open on Tuesday.

Despite closing to students on Monday, all MMSD staff members are expected to report to work.

We will continue to communicate with the public on any new developments on this issue.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Sunday, February 20, 2011 --- 7:15 p.m.

NBC15 received the following from MADISON TEACHERS INC

PRESS RELEASE:
re: Governor Walker’s Attack on Public Employees
February 20, 2011

MTI Executive Director John Matthews announced this evening that members of all five MTI bargaining units, meeting in general session this earlier today, adopted a motion that calls for MTI members to remain off work tomorrow, Monday, February 21, and that they continue to engage in political action against Governor Walker’s proposal which would decimate the protections, grievance procedures, wages and benefits set forth in their Collective Bargaining Agreements. The same would result for all public employees in Wisconsin, Matthews said. The action today calls for District employees to return to work Tuesday. Teachers from Appleton and Milwaukee will join the lobbying effort tomorrow. Matthews said that for many years, Wisconsin has been the leader in seeing the value of public sector unions. In addition to being the first state to authorize public sector unions, also born here were Social Security, Unemployment Compensation and Worker’s Compensation.

Union contracts have enabled workers to concentrate on doing the best job possible for the public and have provided public employers with one source with which to work. The union speaks for all employees, as regards wages, benefits and even discipline. The contract between the union and the employer provides not only the wages and benefits, but the procedures for such things as promotion, demotion, transfer, discipline and layoff. Without these agreements, employers would be in chaos. This has certainly been the case in the Madison Metropolitan School District, he said. MTI and representatives for the District work cooperatively to resolve employment related and personal issues of employees, which issues impact their employment.

Matthews quoted Clarence Darrow regarding the value of unions, “With all their faults, trade unions have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men then any other association of men [and women].”

In referencing Governor Walker’s proposal, Matthews said, “So much for the Republican philosophy of government being operated at the lowest possible level. Governor Walker attempts to DICTATE what all Wisconsin public employers will do.” He illustrated how Governor Walker’s proposals impact school district workers:

Salary/wage schedules eliminated (frozen at your current wage, future increases limited to not more than the Consumer Price Index, 1.5% last year);
Health insurance, if any (if the School Board elects to provide health insurance, they will select the insurance company and the benefit plan. Walker’s mandate is that the employee pay 12.6% of the premium - employee with a GHC family point of service would pay $2,268 per year more);
Dental insurance, if any, up to the School Board;
Long term disability insurance, if any, up to the School Board;

Seniority, if any (one could be laid off without regard to seniority);
Planning time, if any, up to the School Board;
Benefits for designated family partner, if any, up to the School Board;
Transfer procedures, if any, up to the School Board;
Any worker absent longer than 3 days without the employer’s approval is subject to termination;
Pension - Walker’s mandate is that the employee pay 5.8% of wage into WRS (average teacher would pay $2,900 per year more);
Work preservation clause - gone, work could be sub-contracted;
Hours of school, unilaterally set by School Board;
Length of school year, unilaterally set by School Board;
Termination without just cause and with no recourse.

Matthews asked why Walker would attack public workers. He said that these are the people who purify our water, plow our streets, perform emergency services, keep our homes and streets safe, pick up our trash, treat our sewage, look after the welfare of those in need, teach our children, staff our schools. Public services keep our State great, he added.

Madison legislators Senators Mark Miller, Fred Risser and Jon Erpenbach; and Representatives Gary Hebl, Joe Parisi, Terese Berceau, Spencer Black, Mark Pocan, Sondy Pope-Roberts, and Kelda Roys, all oppose Governor Walker’s ludicrous proposal. Wisconsin’s senior Senator, Fred Risser said, “Without a willingness to even discuss what concessions need to be made with state employees, the governor comes across more like a dictator and less like a leader.”

Matthews concluded his statement by advising that Walker’s proposal would not only destroy 45 years of cooperative labor relations between the School District and MTI, a system that daily provides the means to resolve work place issues, but would cost the average Madison teacher a loss of $5,168, and similar amounts for other District employees. MTI has negotiated payments by the District for health insurance and retirement deposits rather than wage increases, and now Governor Walker wants to force employees to pay those amounts with no consideration of the wages which were sacrificed so that the District would pay them.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, February 18, 2011 --- 8:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A judge has denied a bid by the Madison School District to force teachers back to work.

But a leader of the teachers union says teachers will return to the classroom Tuesday.

The district late Friday filed for a temporary restraining order that would bar teachers from taking part in any more work stoppages such as teacher demonstrations that have closed schools three days this week. The district characterizes the work stoppage as an illegal strike. Strikes by teachers are prohibited by state law.

District officials haven't decided yet whether schools will be open Monday.

Schools have been closed in Madison, Milwaukee and other districts around Wisconsin as teachers call in sick to attend protests at the state Capitol over Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. Teachers and other state union workers are upset that Walker wants to curtail their collective bargaining rights.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED: Friday, February 18, 2011 --- 7:14p.m.

Statement from the Madison School District:

This afternoon, the Madison School District filed a complaint against Madison Teachers Inc. regarding its recent work stoppage and sought a temporary restraining order in order to facilitate opening its schools and avoiding another day of lost instruction for its students.

After a short hearing before Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi, the request for the temporary restraining order was denied.

Superintendent Dan Nerad said, “Recognizing that we understand how this proposed legislation is significantly impacting our staff, we also have an obligation to ensure that our students are educated. Because we lacked assurances that staff would return to work on Monday, we made the decision to seek a legal solution to the need to have our students back in school.”

Nerad added that the district is continuing to evaluate its options going forward.

The job action has forced Madison Schools to be closed to students Wednesday through Friday of this week.

No decision has been made about schools being open on Monday.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED: Friday, February 18, 2011 --- 5:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Madison School District has gone to court to get teachers back to work.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the district late Friday filed for an injunction that would bar teachers from taking part in any more work stoppages such as teacher demonstrations that have closed schools three days this week.

Schools have been closed in Madison, Milwaukee and other districts around Wisconsin as teachers call in sick to attend protests at the state Capitol over Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. Teachers and other state union workers are upset that Walker wants to curtail their collective bargaining rights.

In its filing, the Madison School District characterizes the work stoppage as an illegal strike. Strikes by teachers are prohibited by state law.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, February 18, 2011 --- Noon

NOTE: Superintendent Dr. Donald Johnson emailed this note to parents in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District:

Dear Parents:

MCPASD will be open for school on Monday, February 21. The Middleton Education Association, through a written statement by their President Chris Bauman, is directing all teachers to report to work. I have been promised that our community can count on this.

In addition, all teachers are expected to separate political and union issues from instruction in all cases, unless this is part of a planned current event in a social studies classroom. In social studies classes too, teachers are expected to present balanced perspectives, and not advocate for their own view.

Many parents have asked what discipline will result from teachers not reporting to work on Thursday and/or Friday. Teachers not coming to work will be docked pay for one or two days depending on the number of days they were out. There may also be letters placed in their personnel files. Other discipline may be possible in accordance with state law, district policy, and the collective bargaining agreement.

Options are also being considered about make up days or time to deal with instructional time that has been lost due to this job action. The Board of Education will be discussing this on Monday, February 28th at the regular meeting.

As the superintendent of schools, I will work with other district leaders and all staff to unify our efforts to provide the best possible education for your children. We need to pull together for our students, especially after a period of turmoil and divisiveness.

I have received many emails, phone calls, and personal comments that represent a wide range of political perspectives. All messages and comments that I have received will be reviewed by the Board of Education and other district leadership. We take your comments and concerns seriously.

Finally, I know that the events of this week have tried our collective patience, sometimes strained personal relationships, and left us a bit uncertain about the future. I challenge us all to draw on the quality of our community and our tradition of being "Good Neighbors" as we move ahead. We are in this together. The school district will do everything possible to set a positive tone and provide the best possible schools for our children

Sincerely,
Dr. Donald Johnson

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, February 18, 2011 --- 7:45 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The state's largest school district has joined those that have canceled classes due to teacher shortages caused by union protests at the state Capitol.

Officials say more than 600 of the 5,400 teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools called in sick Friday to attend the protests over Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. The district has more than 82,000 students at 184 schools.

Schools in Madison, Janesville, Wisconsin Dells and other districts around Wisconsin are also closed. Teachers and other state union workers are upset that Republican Gov. Scott Walker wants to curtail their collective bargaining rights and is asking them to contribute more to their health insurance and pensions.

Angry public workers have packed the state Capitol in Madison in protest.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, February 17, 2011 --- 8:17 p.m.

From the Madison School District:

We have received many reports Thursday evening that unfortunately there will again be significant staff absences in our district on Friday in protest of Governor Walker’s proposed changes in labor law.

Due to substantial concerns about these absences in Madison, the Madison School District is again forced to close all of our schools to students on Friday, February 18, 2011.

We regret having to make this decision for the third consecutive day, but with the significant percentage of staff members expected to be absent on Friday we can not assure the safety of all students.

We understand that managing a third day off will be a significant hardship for families and we do appreciate the tolerance of families in these unusual times.

All MMSD staff will be expected to report to work on Friday.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, February 17, 2011 --- 7:55 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's second largest school district canceled classes for a second day as teachers prepared spend another day at the Capitol in protest of Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to strip government workers of nearly all collective bargaining rights.

Nearly two dozen other school districts canceled classes Thursday as well, including La Crosse, Mosinee, Watertown, Verona, Stoughton, Columbus and Edgerton. District officials are telling teachers and staff to report to school.

The Legislature's budget committee passed Walker's bill on a partisan vote just before midnight. Several opponents in the crowd broke into tears as Democrats on the committee encouraged them not to give up the fight. Up to 20,000 people filled the Statehouse on Wednesday to demonstrate.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, February 16, 2011 --- 9:15 p.m.

From the Madison School District:

We have received reports Wednesday evening that there will again be significant staff absences in our district on Thursday in protest of Governor Walker’s proposed changes in labor law.

Due to substantial concerns about these absences in Madison, the Madison School District is forced to close all of our schools to students on Thursday, February 17, 2011.

We regret having to make this decision for a second consecutive day, but with the significant percentage of staff members expected to be absent on Thursday we can not assure the safety of all students. We realize this is difficult for families because it impacts family routines and schedules and we appreciate your flexibility during these difficult times.

All MMSD staff will be expected to report to work on Thursday.

We will continue to communicate with you on any new developments on this issue.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, February 16, 2011 --- 5:50 p.m.

Madison Schools Superintendent Dr. Daniel Nerad just met with reporters. He says no decision has been made regarding classes tomorrow. Stay with NBC15 and NBC15.com for continuing coverage. When a decision is made, we'll post the information in this story.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, February 16, 2011 --- 3:45 p.m.

Superintendent Dr. Daniel Nerad was set to hold a press conference at 4:00 p.m. to answer reporter questions. But that was postponed because administrators are in discussions about what to do tomorrow. As soon as an announcement is made, NBC15 will post the information at NBC15.com and on NBC15's Facebook fanpage.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, February 16, 2011 --- 4:45 p.m.
By: Barclay Pollak

With Madison schools closed, many parents were forced to call in themselves so they could stay home with their kids. But many didn't just sit at home.

Students from Madison West High School came to the capitol carrying signs and chanting. Their teachers waited for them in front of the capitol. The students say they wanted to use this unexpected day off from school to show support for the people responsible for their education.

Sam Anderson, a Madison West High School senior says, " I think the bill unfairly victimizes state employee's and public workers and teachers, my parents, everyone. "

Matthew Gruennert, a corrections officer, brought his four kids to the protest. He says he voted for Walker but isn't happy with his latest proposal.

" My problem is that I don't think it's done in a surgical way. It's kind of done in a very grotesque way like a blunt axe just whacking away at a bunch of things. "

Krissy Lemmenes was joined by her three kids. All of them wanted to come to the capitol to support their teachers.

Seven year old Emily says, " The importance of my teacher, I think she should have a say in all this. I don't like whoever is not doing that."

Not everyone brought their kids down to the capitol to protest but that doesn't mean they're not showing their support.

"I understand why the teachers are doing it. I think it's unfortunate that schools had to be closed today. "

Meg Cates was joined by her daughter Carly at home today. Carly a Madison West High School student didn't join the protest but she says that doesn't mean she didn't want to.

Instead she studied at home. " I've been working on homework so nothing too fun."

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, February 16, 2011 --- 9:45 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A spokeswoman for the state teachers' union says no district has been forced to close Wednesday due to high absences other than Madison.

That district, the state's second largest, closed after more than 40 percent of its union-covered workers call in sick so they can protest Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to take away collective bargaining rights for public workers.

Wisconsin Education Association Council spokeswoman Christina Brey says she knows of no other school forced to close.

There have also been no reports of higher than usual absences at state prisons.

Walker has said the National Guard stands ready to step in to operate the prisons if workers fail to show up. A union leader for prison workers did not immediately return messages.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, February 15, 2011 --- 11:15 p.m.

From the Madison School District:

Due to substantial concerns of excessive staff absences, the Madison School District is forced to close all of our schools to students on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. We regret having to make this decision, but with the significant percentage of staff members reporting absences for Wednesday we can not assure the safety of all students.

As of late Tuesday evening, 40% of the 2,600 members of the teacher bargaining unit called in sick, and it is expected that this number will continue to increase through Wednesday morning. At this ratio we have serious concerns about our ability to maintain safe and secure school environments.

Despite a substantial number of substitute teachers, there are not enough available teachers to come close to filling the need for Wednesday.

For your information, all MMSD staff will be expected to report to school on Wednesday to meet their contractual obligations.

We will continue to communicate with you on any new developments on this issue.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 -- 10:20 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

The union representing 4,500 Madison school employees says few will show up tomorrow.

They'll be calling in sick to protest at the capitol.

Earlier tonight Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad sent a letter to parents warning "excessive" absences were expected but schools planned to remain open.

At this minute that is still the case.

Tonight the preparations are well under way, hundreds of Madison Teachers Inc. signs being made for the hundreds of teachers they say won't be showing up at Madison's public schools tomorrow.

MTI Executive Director John Matthews says, "A few minutes ago I called superintendent Nerad to recommend to him that he close schools tomorrow."

As the union's executive director was updating media he took a call from Nerad who said at 9 o'clock tonight he would look at how many teachers had already called in to help make his decision

Nerad says, "In many ways the preparation for this is not different than are we going to have bad weather and how bad will it be."

Matthews says, "They are doing this because they love the kids they teach and they don't want to be stripped of the things they need to do that job and to do it very well."

Tonight hundreds of of teachers from across the state came to the capitol to state their case.

Tina Birkett, a teacher who came from Cuba City, says, "The people are very clearly and loudly saying we don't want this bill to be passed."

While the crowds were smaller than earlier in the day they listened intently to the still ongoing testimony.

There were still some protesters hanging around outside the capitol late tonight but signs of the masses that were there earlier in the day were all over. Piles of picket signs littered the area. Bright and early tomorrow morning protesters will be picking the signs up once again.

Madison public school employees are among those who will be coming to the capitol, walking out on the kids as they say it, to benefit the kids.

Matthews says, "We have only one day we can make a difference and it's because of the ridiculous means by which the governor tried to shove this down the throats of public employees and employers."

According to the union teachers wanted to give parents more warning about the absences but say tomorrow is the only day they have to make their voice heard.

____________________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, February 15, 2011 --- 7:15 p.m.

From reporter Chris Woodard: The Madison Teachers Union is urging Madison Schools Superintendent Daniel A. Nerad to close school tomorrow (since so many teachers are expected to be out). Superintendent Nerad says he'll look at the number of teachers who have called in at 9:00 p.m. tonight before deciding. So stay with NBC15.com. We'll follow this story throughout the evening.

__________________________________________________

Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2011 --- 4:10 p.m.

Here is the letter the Madison School District distributed today:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We received word today that there may be excessive absences tomorrow and/or through the remainder of the week in protest of Governor Walker's proposed budget cuts and changes in labor law. Our goal is to try to keep the schools open and safe during this period. In doing so, the following will occur:

- Principals will develop a plan for students using the staff who are present.

- The health office has provided a list of required medications, allergies and special needs for specific students and related procedures to the principal.

- If you need to communicate with the school, someone will be in the office to answer phone calls.

- If you are scheduled for an IEP tomorrow (with the exception of manifestations), your principal may reschedule the meeting, so please call the office.

- Buses will run as usual.

- Breakfast and lunch will be served (most likely not the same menu as the calendar).

- District, Pflaum and MSCR staff will be assisting in schools.

We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that school operations continue as normal as expected by our parents and community as a whole. If you have any questions, please contact your principal.

Sincerely,

Daniel A. Nerad
Superintendent


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
NBC15 615 Forward Drive Madison, Wisconsin 53711 Business: 608-274-1515 Newsroom: 608-274-1500
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 116265614 - nbc15.com/a?a=116265614
Gray Television, Inc.