Teachers and administrators in the Hamburg Central School District will get back to negotiating on Monday in hopes of coming up with a teacher evaluation plan in time for this week’s state deadline.
Hamburg teachers overwhelmingly rejected an evaluation plan last week, raising concerns that the district will lose out on about $450,000 in state aid if a plan is not in place by Thursday.
Union officials told The Buffalo News on Friday that a big reason the plan was rejected by a 217-82 vote was over the process for appealing a teacher’s evaluation ratings.
That was news to Hamburg Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch.
“That was never part of their discussion,” Achramovitch said Saturday. “The first time I heard that was a union issue was when I read the article in the newspaper.”
The superintendent also took exception to comments from union leaders that administrators were unwilling to meet earlier in the school year to hammer out the details of an evaluation.
The district and teachers union had a tentative agreement on an evaluation plan last June, but a vote was never pursued by the teachers because it was the end of the school year, the superintendent said.
Administrators continued to press for a conclusion from the union, which eventually came back in December with a significantly revised plan, Achramovitch said. The two sides reached a second tentative agreement, he said.
However, Achramovitch said, there were still some issues raised by the teachers union, forcing further changes and yet another tentative agreement reached only last week.
The superintendent said the major issues raised by the union had to do with the preferred ratings-system model used for the evaluations, the superintendent said.
“In each of those cases, I basically accepted what the teachers were proposing,” Achramovitch said.
The president of the teachers union did not return a call Saturday seeking comment.
But a union official told The News on Friday that a major sticking point for Hamburg teachers is language in the proposal put forth by a 12-member district committee that would have given Achramovitch the final say on any teacher appeals of their ratings.
The agreement called for an appeals panel, consisting of two teachers and two administrators, to review those appeals. In case of a tie vote, Achramovitch would serve as the tie-breaker, which the membership of the teachers association found to untenable.
“I talked to the union president today, and he was reviewing why the plan was voted down,” Achramovitch said Saturday. “We will hopefully be meeting on Monday morning, and we’re going to review the appeals process and come to another tentative agreement – hopefully.”
School districts across the state must have an approved evaluation plan in place by Thursday or they will lose their share of this fiscal year’s increase in state aid, which in Hamburg’s case is about $450,000.