Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for October 25, 2004

Where oh where has the CAT Tracks gone...where oh where can it be?

We used to get a CAT Tracks every week...sometimes every day...heck, sometimes twice a day! Only one edition in October? A boring report on the regular monthly BOE meeting! Whassup with that?!

Well, it's a sign...a sign that the "bad old days" are gone and a new age has dawned!

There have been very few editions of CAT Tracks since July 1st because there have been no crises since July 1st...just "boring" day-to-day school business. Even pay day comes and goes without a gnashing of teeth!

And, folks, it's no accident. It's part of a plan...a plan to end the labor/management strife that has plagued Cairo School District Number One for more years than most of you remember...for sure since the CAT won recognition as exclusive bargaining agent for certified personnel in 1978.

And for that, we have Superintendent Samuel Harbin to thank. Dr. Harbin has gone out of his way to bury the past and build a new future. He has been very proactive...reaching out for input...seeking ways to establish a collaborative relationship between employees and the Board of Education. And Dr. Harbin has done more than "talk the talk", he has "walked the walk"...responding - PROMPTLY - to employee concerns, something that has NOT been done in the past!

In the past, the editions of CAT Tracks were outnumbered by letters written to the District administration...letters documenting the grievances of employees...letters that fell on "deaf eyes". In fact, most of the letters were requests for a response to previously sent and unanswered letters. These were not frivolous letters...each and every one represented a legitimate complaint by an Association member.

During last Thursday night's regular BOE meeting, I commented that, since Dr. Harbin's arrival, I had written only two letters to the Superintendent...and that, in fact, he had requested one of them. Dr. Harbin's response..."Yeah, and I didn't like that other one!"...which brought laughter to all present. A sense of humor...and a relaxed atmosphere where it can be enjoyed!

So...are all the problems of the District solved? Of course not! least there is hope...hope that the administration and the employees can now focus on the "educational" problems of CSD #1 without being distracted by turf battles.

In bargaining parlance, there is a type of contract negotiations call "Win-Win Bargaining"...where labor and management sit down at the table as vested parties. Each side has its concerns and its priorities, but BOTH sides never lose sight of the common, primary goal - the educational and fiscal well-being of the District. By doing so, an agreement is reached whereby the concerns of both parties are addressed in an amicable manner...thus the tag "Win-Win".

In Cairo School District Number One, we have struggled through 25 years of traditional, confrontational "Lose-Lose Bargaining". This method was NOT by design - at least not on the Association's part. We have always wanted to work "WITH" the administration for the betterment of the District. We did NOT seek the adversarial relationship that developed. As they say..."Stuff Happens!"

The Association has welcomed the arrival of each new administration. The Association has hoped for a new beginning. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the "honeymoon period" has been brief indeed. Let us hope that this "marriage" is a long and happy one.

On behalf of the Association, I have told Dr. Harbin that he can expect our full support and cooperation in his efforts to make a "significant difference" in Cairo School District Number One.