The Bedford County Education Association has notified the Bedford County School Board that they wish to enter into collaborative conferencing in the spring. Current teacher contracts expire in June 2013.
A school board committee voted on at last Tuesday's regular meeting will include Diane Neeley, Mike Cook, Dr. Andrea Anderson and Glen Forsee.
On June 1, 2011, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act. The PECCA replaces the Education Professional Negotiations Act, substituting collaborative conferencing for Tennessee's traditional collective bargaining process.
According to the state's education website, "Collaborative conferencing is the process by which [board chair Martin and the BCEA] will meet to confer, consult, discuss and exchange information, opinions and proposals on matters relating to terms and conditions of professional service using the principles and techniques of interest-based collaborative problem-solving."
The state's FAQs regarding the negotiation process goes on to say, "Interest-based collaborative problem solving is not defined in the PECCA; however, it is likely the General Assembly modeled the communication method after interest-based bargaining -- a process by which the parties discuss areas of concern in an open, non-adversarial manner."
Collaborative conferencing is required only if professional employees vote to conduct negotiations with the board and requires submission of a written request by 15 percent or more of those professionals in the district.
The method is only employed to discuss one of seven topic areas: salaries, grievance procedures, insurance, fringe benefits, working conditions, leave and payroll deductions.
The conferencing method may not include discussion of differentiated pay plans or incentive compensation programs, expenditures of grants or awards, evaluation of professional employees, staffing directions and policies and personnel decisions.