|Updated: 6/12/2012 10:43 pm
||Published: 6/12/2012 8:21 pm
Teachers with the Pulaski County Special School District try again to convince the district to honor their contracts.
A 3 person panel will take information gathered at a public hearing Tuesday night back to Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell for a final decision.
The commissioner made the recommendation to the district to not renew employee contracts as written in order to balance the budget of the district currently in fiscal distress.
Dr. Jerry Guess is serving as the district's Superintendent after being appointed to the position by Dr. Kimbrell one year ago. Dr. Guess testified in the hearing his duty is to balance the budget and Dr. Kimbrell is mandating changes be made. "The changes are a result of a directive of Dr. Kimbrell to initiate certain changes described for the contract for 2012-13."
The changes to the teachers and support staff mean $4 million in cuts to benefits. Representatives for the teachers and support staff say they will continue to pursue all of their options, including in court. PACT President Marty Nix says they are suing the district for cutting ties with the unions.
The 3 member panel will listen to the facts of the hearing, analyze the discussion, and the next step is to write a recommendation for the commissioner to make a final ruling.
Danny Knight is the Chief Hearing Officer appointed by Dr. Kimbrell. Knight says the panel's job is to be fair and objective.
There is one more public hearing set for teachers whose positions were eliminated with the district set for Thursday at 5:30pm at the district headquarters.
These hearings come after the district and the unions spent months negotiating contracts and could not agree. Dr. Kimbrell told the district it had to balance the budget without recognition of the teachers and support staff unions.
The hearing lasted more than 4 hours. The panel will meet on Tuesday, June 19th at 5pm at the district offices to share its opinon to give to Dr. Kimbrell.