D-11, union to open door to day-long negotiating session

April 13, 2011

Colorado Springs School District 11 and the Colorado Springs Education Association reached  agreement Wednesday to open one negotiating session to the public.

The open session will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Jefferson Education Center, 1801 N. Howard Ave., off Leleray Street.

People may stay for the entire 12 hours, or they may come and go as they wish said District 11 board President Tom Strand.

"Of course, the lawsuit was a factor," in opening the meeting, he said, adding that the district believes it has acted in accordance with the master agreement. The open meeting was announced after the D-11 board met Wednesday in executive session with CSEA representatives.

D-11 parent Chad Lawson filed suit against the district in March seeking to have negotiations restarted because the initial meeting was not open to the public. The lawsuit says the Master Agreement requires the first meeting to be open.

On Feb. 23, the D-11 board voted to ask the union to open negotiations to the public the following Monday. CSEA refused to open the doors, saying the board hadn't given it much time to discuss the issue and it feared talks would be more guarded.

Jeff Crank, state president of Americans for Prosperity, urged the board to boycott negotiations until the union agreed to open them to the public. The group organized a phone and email campaign and a protest at a March board meeting.

This Friday's negotiations will cover working conditions and professional rights, two of the 19 articles that are part of the agreement.

Whether or not additional meetings will be public in the future has yet to be decided.

Kevin Vick, CSEA vice president, said the group hopes the issue can be set aside so everyone can focus on education of students.

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