|Updated: 6/19/2012 10:54 pm
||Published: 6/19/2012 8:10 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The three person panel chosen to hear grievances over teacher contracts with the Pulaski County Special School District makes a decision Tuesday night.
The panel sided with the District's recommendation Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess says is coming from Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell. That decision is to make $4 million in cuts in the teacher’s contracts.
PACT President Marty Nix says the decision is disheartening. "It's disappointing, but it's what we expected." Teachers hoped to convince the panel to modify or reject the non-renewal recommendation of the district, and ultimately Dr. Kimbrell. Nix says the teachers don't believe the panel was objective, since Dr. Kimbrell mandated the cuts, and instructed the district to severe ties with the unions.
Dr. Guess says his instructions from Dr. Kimbrell are to balance the district's budget, currently in fiscal distress. "The changes we proposed in the non-renewal letters were reasonable in our attempt to put the district on a better financial course."
Chief Hearing Officer Danny Knight says the panel made its decision based on the facts that were presented, but the teachers aren't buying that. Nix says the teachers believe the panel's decision is a rubber stamp. Knight defends the accusation that the panel is biased. "We took very seriously our job of what we were asked to do. I didn't come in with any preconceived ideas about what was going to happen."
Nix says the teachers union is not defeated, and the employees are not giving up. Nix says they have other options to pursue. "We still have several cases in court we're waiting for a court date on."
There are still roughly 40 teachers who have not yet signed the new contracts offered for the 2012-2013 school year. PCSSD is in the process of determining if those teachers plan to return to their positions in the fall.