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MEA Questions Declaration of "Financial Urgency"

On Wednesday, May 7th Dr. Dearing sent another letter to Pat Barber regarding his demand for bargaining under the Financial Urgency section of Florida Statutes. He called for the MEA to come to bargaining beginning May 8th at 4:30 PM at the IMC. Dr. Dearing unilaterally determined that the 14 day period for bargaining under Financial Urgency had started. He threatened to invoke the impasse provisions of Florida Statutes as of May 20th.
On May 8th Pat Barber responded to Dr. Dearing. In her letter she once again pointed out the fact that Dr. Dearing has misapplied and misinterpreted the provisions of Financial Urgency.
Pat also stated that the 14-day rush to modify the contract in order to reduce salaries of teachers and paraprofessionals is not in their best interest. She explained that the unprecedented situation we face will require unprecedented efforts to resolve the issue. 
Finally, Pat suggested that the parties discuss the establishment of a mutually agreeable schedule to discuss contract re-openers.

MEA Demands Complete Review of Manatee County School District's Budget

On Monday, May 5th Superintendent Roger Dearing sent a letter to MEA President Pat Barber demanding that the MEA enter into bargaining no later than May 7th. Dr. Dearing inappropriately invoked 447.4095, Florida Statutes that deals with financial urgency. That provision calls for 14 days of expedited bargaining when financial urgency requires modification of an agreement. Dr. Dearing has made it clear through his repeated statements to the media that his desired outcome of bargaining is to reduce salaries by as much as 5%. A ratification meeting has been scheduled by the School Board for May 21st. Dr. Dearing has demanded that bargaining conclude by May 20th. Once again Dr. Dearing has predetermined the outcome of negotiations, and has attempted to dictate the conditions under which it is to take place.
The MEA responded on May 5th with a letter that clearly and forcefully explained that Dr. Dearing’s declaration of financial urgency is premature and that the unilateral imposition of timelines is untenable.
A declaration of financial urgency must be preceded by a thoughtful review and consideration of the complete budgetary position faced by the district and its employees. The analysis must be data driven and not based upon speculative reactions to an admittedly dismal budgetary outlook. The MEA has demanded this information. We need such information in order to meet our collective bargaining obligations.
The MEA also points out that there is no need to modify the collective bargaining agreement immediately. There is an obligation under the law to explore every non-contractual source of revenue prior to any modification of a collective bargaining agreement. The MEA resisted the call by the Superintendent for immediate bargaining without a complete analysis of the financial picture, and to assume at first blush that the collective bargaining agreements shall be the first on the chopping block is not what is contemplated by the law.