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Charlo still negotiating with classified staff

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CHARLO — At a Charlo School Board meeting last Tuesday, school bus driver Jack Willet addressed the board on behalf of the Charlo Classified Association. Negotiations between the union and the Charlo Negotiations Committee have been ongoing since last spring when Charlo Classified Association formed. 

Willet asked the board their opinion on the lack of progress and noted that in the school board minutes, the school board continually discusses the new multi-purpose building in its meetings and ignores the human aspect of the school.

“The most valuable resource is the human resources,” Willet said. “These (people) are the backbone of the school.”

Superintendent Paul Jenkins replied to Willet and the numerous classified staff in attendance, reassuring the employees that they are invaluable to the school.

“I disagree with you that you’re not important. You are important.” He added that negotiations between two different parties can be difficult, and at times, don’t go the way both parties want.

Currently, Charlo employs 19 classified staff, who work as bus drivers, cooks, maintenance workers, para-professionals and secretaries. The union is requesting a 4.5 percent raise for all classified employees in 2010, which cannot be less than 55 cents per hour. 

The negotiations committee responded with a 33 cent raise per hour, and a salary schedule pertaining to all new employees.

Jenkins remains hopeful that the district and the union will come to an agreement in the near future. The next negotiation meeting will be held on Feb. 2. 

The school board also voted to allow a special EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) class to take place in the school building twice a week. 

A tentative starting date has been set for Feb. 17 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The new class will be offered to six Charlo juniors and seniors who are interested in becoming EMTs. Greg and Patty Scheumaker have volunteered their time to teach the class.

The class will cost each student $152, which will cover the costs of the book and CPR card. 

The 142-hour class will prepare the students for taking the Montana Emergency Medical Technician Exam. While addressing the board, Patty Scheumaker mentioned that the class will give a “head start” to students who are interested in taking pre-medicine courses in college. 

Members of the school board agreed that this class is a great opportunity for students who are preparing to graduate.

Chris Cheff, construction manager of the new multi-purpose building, was also present to discuss the nearly completed structure. 

He reported that the multi-purpose building was approved by the state fire marshals and it will be completely finished by the second week in February.

After the state fire marshal inspected, two more fire extinguishers were installed for safety precautions. Cheff noted that the hardwood flooring is installed correctly and ready for finishing, the gutters were in the process of being installed and by Feb. 8, the bleachers should arrive.

Cheff also mentioned that after eight months of working around Charlo’s students, he was impressed by their integrity.

“In all that time,” Cheff said. “Not one time did I hear a kid swear.”

The multi-purpose building will be completed on schedule and under budget. 

The next Charlo School board meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010.  

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