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Oregon School Board President P.J. Kapfhammer said he will not support placing an operations levy on the November ballot if the Oregon City Federation of Teachers seek a raise in teacher salaries.

The board is expected to enter negotiations this month to renew the teachers’ three year contract, which expires July 31.

The union, which represents 250 teachers in the district, is going to request a raise, according to Kapfhammer, which he said he will aggressively oppose.

The district is headed towards placing an operating levy on the November ballot. Jane Fruth, treasurer of the district, said at a board meeting last month that spending exceeded revenue in the last fiscal year and is not “sustainable.”

The board has until July 25 to decide whether to go with a levy in the fall. But Kapfhammer last week said he is against it and will urge the board not to support it.

“Putting a levy on the ballot has to be done for the right reasons,” he said. “And teachers asking for raises at this time is not a good reason.”

Kapfhammer said he will not budge from his position, even if it means a teachers’ strike this summer. He said he will also insist on replacing salary step increases with merit pay. As part of the teachers’ contract, most receive an automatic salary step, which is an incremental increase in salary the longer a teacher serves in the district. Merit pay is based on the quality of a teachers’ work performance.

Dave Shafer, president of the union, said there has not been a request for raises, though he would not disclose if it would be part of contract negotiations.

“We have not exchanged proposals,” said Shafer. “He has no prior knowledge of that.”

Shafer also said he doubts there will be a teachers’ strike and is optimistic about negotiations.

“The last resort of any union would be to go on strike. That’s not even in our conversations. We’re not even thinking along those lines. We’re going to sit down, and try to hammer things out. Obviously, we’re going to try and come to common ground.”

In 2008, the union agreed to a 1.5 percent increase in the base salary for each of the next three years, said Shafer, less than the 2 percent increase that was earmarked in the budget.

“We agreed to a concessions, based on what was budgeted,” he said.

“The last contract we negotiated, we offered concessions that they didn’t even ask for so that we could stay off the ballot, keep teachers in the classroom, and do the best job we could educating kids,” said Shafer.

Two years prior to that, the union did not receive any increase in the base salary, he added.

“So it’s been eight years of concessions and layoffs,” he said.

Regarding merit pay, Shafer said he isn’t opposed to discussing the issue.

“We have never, ever, ever said we would not look at any proposal. But that’s part of the negotiation process,” he said.

Relations between the board and the union have been strained since the union recently filed a lawsuit seeking arbitration on a union grievance.

Just last month, the board decided not to renew a lease for the teachers’ union at the Wynn Center, where its office is currently located since moving from a building on Navarre Avenue last year.

Shafer said he was puzzled by the board’s decision, particularly since the union has been paying the monthly rent on time and that there are no other tenants who want to lease the office space.

But Kapfhammer said he was annoyed that the union had filed a lawsuit against the board “from our own address.”

The lawsuit alleges a breach of the collective bargaining agreement to arbitrate a grievance by the union’s committee chairperson, who was reprimanded by the board for allegedly misusing the district’s inner-school email system. The union states that using the email system for union business is part of its contract. Kapfhammer believes it was used for political purposes.

Giving money to people along road

Do you feel compelled to give money to people holding signs along the road asking for money?
254566911 [{"id":"10","title":"No, I'm not sure they're legitimate.","votes":"18","pct":64.29,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"11","title":"No, I'm afraid they will use it for drugs.","votes":"6","pct":21.43,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"12","title":"Yes, I feel good about helping someone down on their luck.","votes":"3","pct":10.71,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]},{"id":"13","title":"Yes, we could all end up like that.","votes":"1","pct":3.57,"type":"x","order":"4","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /communitypolls/vote/1-root.html?Itemid=101&id=5 No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...