Fact Finding Commission Seeks to Break Impasse

Bismarck High’s gymnasium was packed…

There were Teachers, supporters, and both the school board and education associations. It was all moderated by 3 members of a fact-finding commission – to hear both sides of the teacher negotiation disagreements. 

Karl Lembke, school board President: “We have an obligation to put forth a contract that’s not only fair and equitable, but that’s financially sustainable in the face of a multitude of challenges facing our district right now.”

A tight budget is why the school board says all teacher salaries can’t be raised. But for the teachers…it’s not about the money.

Toni Gumeringer, head negotiator for BEA: “Bismarck Public Schools needs to provide a safe environment for its students and teachers with a policy and procedure that provides both input and feedback from teachers.”

BPS stated they have a safety coordinator — and there are good policies in place. Not everyone agreed..

Brittany Staigle, former teacher: “The positive interactions I had with students daily suddenly were not enough to erase the anxiety brought on just by entering my school background.”

Staigle said she resigned from her 3rd grade teaching job because of an unsafe workplace. Others too, had safety concerns.

Lyndsi Huber, special education teacher: “When you walk away with spit in your hair and bruises up and down your arms, you still hurt much more for that child than anyone else.”

Nothing was decided at this meeting. The fact finding commission will issue it’s report next Wednesday. 

The report is only a suggestion and once it’s issued, BPS will have 20 days to decide to agree or disagree with its findings.

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