On April 26th I sent an e-mail to Senator Stepp and State Representative Robert Turner regarding my concerns about the ratification process involving the RUSD teachers contract. Scroll down to read the e-mail. The following are portions of Senator Stepps' response.
"As you are certainly aware, the teachers of RUSD overwhelmingly voted to ratify the contracts negotiated by the school district. The School Board made the contracts, which include total compensation increases of 7%, official on Monday. I share your concerns about the secrecy that shrouded these contracts."
I have requested information from the nonpartisan Legislative Council regarding the legalities of not releasing the details of the contracts prior to their ratification. Legislative Council suggested that an interested party like you could make a written open records request of the district asking for the records of the negotiations. The district is required under Wisconsin statutes to respond in writing with their reasons for withholding documents."
Senator Stepp went on to indicate that her request for an audit of RUSD by the Legislative Audit Bureau has been denied. More information, she believes, "would help Racine taxpayers make informed decisions on the latest referendum scheduled for June."
I appreciate Senator Stepps' response. I also sense that she is more concerned about the secrecy than is Robert Turner, who described the process as "collective bargaining". Even so, it would seem that RUSD can legally prevent the public from knowing the details of a teachers contracts prior to ratification by the elected school board. They can do this by scheduling a vote shortly after ratification by the teachers, while dragging their feet on open records requests. In fairness to RUSD, I should note that they did NOT do this.