Nevada City school board approves settlement agreement in labor complaint case |

Nevada City school board approves settlement agreement in labor complaint case

Almost a year after filing unfair labor practice charges against the Nevada City Elementary School district, three retired teachers will receive additional retirement incentives from the district in the collective amount of close to $15,000.

“This is closure for me,” one of the retirees, Penny Savelly, said Tuesday night. “I’m very excited to finally be done with the process. I just want to thank the perseverance of the (Nevada City Faculty Association) and our (California Teachers Association) representatives. I’m just happy the board was open to hearing our case and settling it, finally.”

In November 2013, the district collectively paid the three retired teachers nearly $55,000 — or close to $15,000 less than those retirees had sought as incentive for retiring early.

Grievance reports were then filed against the district in December 2013 for contract violations. The CTA and NCFA filed an unfair labor practice charge against the district for an Educational Employment Relations Act violation.

The teachers union alleged that the district awarded retirement incentives for the three former staff members based on a one-year savings calculation, claiming it was a radical bargaining change, and that standard calculating incentive payouts were previously based on multi-year savings.

The board, though, argued that the one-year criteria was vital, given the precarious nature of education funding.

“At the time the board took the position that it had to be cost savings/cost neutral, which is in the contract,” District Superintendent Roxanne Gilpatric said. “It was brought to our attention today, that back in 1995 there was a document where the cost savings was computed over multiple years, 20 years. So we just agreed that it’s better to move forward.”

According to Gilpatric, two of the teachers who retired in 2013, will receive $3,200 each, while Savelly, who retired from the district in 2012 after 33 years of teaching, will receive around $8,500 in accordance with the settlement.

Teacher concerns over retirement incentives stem back to June 2013, when faculty association members criticized the district’s reliance on attorneys through a process they felt should be resolved at the bargaining table.

According to previous coverage from The Union, based on the district’s expenditure report presented in December 2013, the district had paid more than $15,000 to two attorneys for two months of work alone.

“It took the (Public Employment Relations Board) that long to hear the case,” Gilpatric said. “It’s bureaucratic, it’s Sacramento. You give them the paperwork and they just call you. Once it’s turned into the PERB, we just wait for them to get back to us.”

After discussing the charges against the district and their case against NCFA in a closed session Tuesday, the board motioned to approve the settlement agreement with the three teachers, passing the action on a 4-0 vote, with board president Paula Campbell not present.

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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