August 22, 2014

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Wellington teachers say they’re cutting their workload

WELLINGTON — District teachers are fed up with waiting for their contract to be renewed and won’t work more than they legally have to, according to a mass mailing to the parents of Wellington students.

Form letters signed by various teachers and staffers appeared in mailboxes Friday and Saturday.

One letter signed by high school teacher Janet Brand states that her work hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

“As you are aware, my day usually extends well beyond those hours. However, since it appears that the Wellington School Board does not value us as professionals, as evidenced by their refusal to bargain a fair and equitable contract, we have established, as an Association, a Work to Rule policy,” the letter said.

School board member Brian Fehlan said he’s received several calls from parents upset about the tone of the letter.

“It left a more negative view in their minds toward the teachers,” he said.

Negotiations with the teachers union — which the letter calls “an unfortunate and unnecessary mess” — will resume at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday for the first time since Sept. 19.

The sit-down was called by a federal mediator, said Fehlan, who hopes to settle the contract Tuesday.

Repko said there is a 50-50 chance the Wellington Education Association will call for a strike during the meeting. But teachers don’t want to strike, she said.

“We want to come to a resolution. It would benefit both sides,” she said.

The WEA represents 89 teachers.

Tuesday’s meeting does not address another lapsed contract with the Wellington School Support Staff union, which represents 59 bus drivers, cooks, custodians and other noncertified workers.

Parent Gerry Askew said her group, called Support Our Children, will parade in front of Town Hall on Main Street, where the meeting will be.

“Nobody in this town wants this to end in a strike. We want it to end now,” she said.

Support Our Children members distributed fliers Friday at the Wellington Dukes football game. The fliers are asking the community to pressure school board members to settle the contract.

They also will be present 7:30 p.m. Monday at a meeting hosted by the WEA and WSSS at McCormick Middle School.

That forum will give more information about the union’s Work to Rule policy.

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.