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E.C. elementary board approves emergency plan

April 11, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

Addressing rumors of a strike by El Centro Elementary School District teachers, the district board Tuesday took unanimous action on a resolution establishing emergency procedures in the event of a job action.

Said Board President Ron Hull: "It's prudent to take precautions. … We've received notices teachers are going to take action."

Of the emergency procedures, he said, "We certainly hope we don't have to use them.

"The procedures are based on the experiences of other districts," said Hull, likening it to preparing for any type of emergency.

Trustee Janie Marlborough added, "We can't ignore something we know has been talked about by the teachers."

The resolution lists the powers available to the district and its superintendent in the case of a "serious threat" or an "actual concerted refusal to work," the resolution states.

The procedures include giving the superintendent the authority to close the schools, and/or suspend or terminate programs, to hire substitute teachers at the rate of $250 per day and "to work with and direct the legal counsel … to take whatever legal action is necessary to protect the best interests of the district."


Reading from a prepared statement, district Superintendent Michael Klentschy said the district's emergency action stems from actions taken by the El Centro Elementary Teachers' Association.

Amid murmurs of displeasure from the audience, Klentschy listed a strike vote taken by the ECETA and public comments of a five-day strike made by ECETA's negotiating members as being causes necessitating the board's action.

"Our regular substitute teachers have reported that they have been contacted by mail from ECETA and are being asked not to sub for our district in the event of a strike by ECETA," Klentschy said.

He added, "Our goal is to have a plan in place to see our schools in operation. … ECETA's actions have created the necessity for the district to have a strike plan, just as we do for earthquakes, fires, disturbances.

"Tonight's action is the first step in providing the district with the resources it needs to effectively accomplish this goal," Klentschy said.

Marlborough said she hopes a strike does not happen.

"Our emergency guest employees won't be able to fill the shoes of a teacher," she said.

She added while she hoped the action wouldn't be needed, it is the board's responsibility to "make sure the kids are taken care of and continue to be taught."

Trustee Dianna Newton said, "I hope it doesn't come to a strike."

She added she hopes there can "be some resolve when we go back to the bargaining table."

ECETA president Bruce Roberts addressed the board during public comment session, presenting the trustees with nearly 1,000 signatures in support of the teachers' association.

Roberts said the signatures are all from members of the community.

Roberts questioned recent ads placed by the school district, as well as the board's decision to pay emergency guest employees $250 per day, "when daily substitute pay is around $90."

In other district action, the board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution stating the board's appreciation of and confidence in Klentschy.

Hull said, "He was slighted somewhat in recognition by the board because of the labor dispute."

The vote of confidence comes in response to a recent "no confidence" vote by the teachers' association and ECETA's recent public criticism of Klentschy.

The resolution states, "The board has become aware of recent public statements and actions in the community. … Those statements and actions are entirely inaccurate and unfair to the superintendent."

Newton said, "I can't say enough of what (Klentschy's) brought to the district. … He has been a tremendous asset to our district."

Newton and Marlborough called ECETA's targeting of Klentschy "misplaced frustration."

Wearing black, teachers rallied before the board meeting and many addressed the board during the public comment session of the meeting.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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