Print Mingus seeks a method to madness
Written by Lu Stitt   
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 12:45

With pending cutbacks, the Mingus Union High School Governing Board plans to eliminate a longtime negotiation tool used at the school.

The Interest Based Negotiation process uses an independent facilitator to help in negotiation between administration and staff on issues such as salary, benefits and general working conditions. The historic cost for the facilitator to come up from Phoenix is approximately $22,000 a year.

Board member Jim Ledbetter brought the subject up at the board’s Jan. 8 meeting when the IBN process came up for approval for 2008-09, saying that IBN was very costly.

“The price is half a teacher’s salary. I respectfully submit this is not a year to do IBN,” Ledbetter said.

He asked for a proposal on how to go forward with a Mingus-specific plan that would replace IBN. The board removed the item from the Jan. 8 agenda and decided to have it placed on the board’s Thursday, Feb. 12, meeting along with consideration of the IBN process.

Board president John Tavasci Jr. said he did not approve of IBN, but staff participation in the process should be maintained.

“This doesn’t need to be a subcommittee of the board but a plan directed by the superintendent,” Tavasci said.

Board member Andy Groseta said he did not want to wait too long to have a negotiation plan in place.

“I’m in favor of a well orchestrated, well organized process where everybody’s involved,” Groseta said.

What Groseta stated is the same thing the teachers are wanting. Laura Logsdon, president of the Mingus Union Education Association, will present an alternative plan at the Feb. 12 meeting.

“We, as an association of teachers, will present a plan of our own that incorporates some of the mechanisms that allow for a process-based decision-making model,” Logsdon said. “We’re interested in keeping a process in place whether we’re facing a shortfall year or one in which we have money to spend.”

Everyone is looking at plans that will not cost the district money, but will be fair and objective, and will help reestablish a relationship of trust, she said.

“I think we’re on our way toward something that is going to be very workable,” Logsdon said.

Another action the board took to save money for the district was to have the board hear disciplinary issues rather than independent hearing officers. They heard their first case Feb. 5.

Other items to be considered on Thursday’s agenda include:

  • To prioritize a list of reductions for the fiscal year’s 2009 budget
    Change orders for the bond and prioritize the remaining bond project
  • Horizontal lane movement for 13 teachers
  • Board designees to sign purchase order requests not to exceed $4,999
  • The Superintendent’s Advisory Team to gather information from staff in the budgeting process

A presentation by Interim Superintendent Nancy Alexander on a budget override for November 2009

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it