Faculty Association approves new 4-year contract

Leland Culver, Assistant Editor

On June 12, the Faculty Association, the faculty union for the Laboratory Schools, ratified a new four-year contract in a landslide vote of 166-4.

The previous contract, in effect since July 1, 2015, expires July 30, when the new contract will replace it.

FA President Jim Catlett, a U-High science teacher, presented a summary of the new agreement in an FA meeting on June 10, after which members had two days to cast their votes.

Members of the administration and faculty negotiating teams had met and worked on the contract since September 2018. Sharon Housinger, FA vice president for communications, said she was pleased with the final version of the contract and the work of the negotiating teams.

“[We] really engaged in some really good conversations about what’s best for the school and what’s best for students,” Ms. Housinger, also a U-High science teacher, said.

Laboratory Schools Director Charlie Abelmann also stated he was pleased that the contract was completed.

“I am deeply appreciative of the sense of collaboration, collegiality and care that all parties brought to the process and for helping us get to this point,” said Dr. Abelmann in a statement.

One topic the negotiators covered was recent growth in the student body, according to Ms. Housinger. This triggered discussion of class size, student distribution among learning and counseling, and the potential of hiring additional support staff.

Both Mr. Catlett and Ms. Housinger were pleased about a new provision that provides an extension of parental leave for adoptive parents to match that for birth parents.

“It sort of represents what our school should be on the cutting edge of,” Ms. Housinger said.

Ms. Housinger said that the events surrounding the termination of Daniel Bobo-Jones in January did affect the negotiations, but not in a negative way. The negotiations began in earnest the same week Mr. Bobo-Jones’s employment was terminated.

“We addressed them. We talked about them at the meetings. We had good, open, frank conversations about the events,” she said. “I think it sort of broke the ice for more frank conversations about what needs to be fixed in the school.”

The final language for the contract, detailing any other changes in the faculty’s relationship with Lab, will be released later this summer, according to Dr. Abelmann.