Friday, August 17, 2012

Next Steps in the Handbook Development

As the 2012-2013 school year begins, there are many questions regarding the development of a School District of Janesville Employee Handbook which is targeted to go into effect on July 1, 2013.  Though far from addressing everyone’s specific questions, I have identified five key concerns that seem to be on everyone’s mind.  In my efforts to keep everyone informed and up to date on the Handbook process, I would like to share my responses with you to these common concerns. 
Why do we need an employee handbook?
As of June 30, 2013 the School District of Janesville’s collective bargaining agreements with AFSCME Local 938 Secretary/Clerk/Aid Unit, Custodial/Maintenance/Food Service Unit, and the Janesville Education Association will expire.  It is anticipated that an employee handbook will be in place by that time to communicate employment related information which was previously addressed in those agreements.
As a reminder, Wisconsin Act 10 has changed the rules and obligations for municipal employers, including school boards, to collectively bargain with represented employees and their unions.  Other than base pay rates, which continue to be negotiable, all other terms and conditions of employment will be covered by compensation plans, applicable statutes or administrative code, or School Board policy. 

Many employers, including most school districts, are using employee handbooks to communicate policies, procedures, ethics, expectations, and standards of the District for all employees.  Though there is no legal requirement to adopt a handbook of any kind, the Janesville School Board has made the decision to proceed with the process of providing a handbook for employees.

What is the process that will be used to complete the handbook?
The first step of the process in writing an employee handbook is collecting data and information regarding specific areas relevant to working conditions and terms of employment.  This includes review of any input from stakeholders, local district policies, current union agreements, legal references, and other school district handbooks.  In some cases consulting with external experts will be part of the information gathering procedures.
The second step of the process takes the information gathered and uses it to draft language that reflect the standards, needs, vision and mission of the School District of Janesville.  This language is then presented to the Janesville Board of Education to be reviewed and discussed in an open meeting during special sessions or regular Board meeting.
Monday’s blog will include more information regarding the handbook process.

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