The Shorewood School District will have an employee handbook in place when teachers report for the .
Nearly a year to the day the — even though negotiations between the district and teachers are now limited to wages under state law — school officials unanimously approved the document Tuesday night.
The new handbook will define work rules on matters that used to be negotiated with the teachers union, such as benefits, hours and more.
"I think it's been a very smart process here, even though I only been a part of it for eight weeks," new Superintendent Martin Lexmond said. "It's clearly been collaborative when we backtracked all the various meetings and players."
Former Superintendent Blane McCann and an Employee Handbook Committee have been meeting over the past year, vetting the new document with teachers, secretaries, and custodians/maintenance staff. The approved document is attached to this article.
However, Lexmond said district officials will continue to revisit the handbook as the school year progresses and deal with language which is deemed unclear.
"The item also includes the note, I think every school district is facing right now, that as we face the first handbook coming out of all of the work rules being governed by a collective bargaining agreement, it's probably going to be an imperfect handbook for a while," he said. "And, I think that's all right.
"We will be able to launch the year and communicate to our teachers, this is how the relationship is defined at this time, and we will continue to monitor things like when we run into language that isn't exactly what we intended," Lexmond added. "We will keep track of those things and our goal is to start revisiting things in January."
Also approved Tuesday was a teachers' appendix to the handbook with a summary of benefits, compensation and work rules. Full-time teachers will pay 12.6 percent of the total health care insurance premium and 5.8 percent of their salary to their pension, which is mandated under state law.
, which has not been approved, included a 3 percent cap on salary increases next year. A , after much discussion, in late September.
A contract with the district's secretarial unit ended on June 30, 2012 and the custodial/maintenance agreement will sunset on June 30, 2013.
School officials agreed to add eligibility for domestic partners in the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act eligibility section of the employee handbook, contingent upon verification of the legality of its addition, following a request by School Board member David Cobb.
Cobb also sparked a discussion about whether the district staff should be required to pay $250 to $500 when they break their contract and decide to leave the district. Officials said it would likely be on the top of their list come January.