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DEERFIELD, Kansas – The teachers of Deerfield are taking over with a majority saying they want local control over bargaining rights.
“Teachers have the ability to meet with the board if they wish to, and so it’s just a better opportunity for us teachers to voice our opinions with the school board,” said Doug Crandall, Deerfield Middle School Teacher.
The vote was a close one.
Eleven to 10 in favor of decertifying the Deerfield Teachers Association which has only five dues paying members.
The vote strips the union’s exclusive power to negotiate contracts with the Deerfield Unified School District meaning the teachers themselves will be at the bargaining table.
“Just the issue that less than 20 percent of our teachers had a voice was the thing that brought us to this,” said Crandall.
“There’s a lot of information we had and could easily get to share with them so that when they met with the board, they were in a good position. And we really can’t do that anymore,” said Pamela Torgerson, KNEA.
Deerfield is the second union in the state to decertify from the Kansas National Education Association following Riley County’s move four years ago.
KNEA officials say they worry about the Deerfield teachers’ ability to get a fair deal on their own.
“The new people, they’re on their own. They’re going to have to figure out what they want and how to do it. There’s no training for them, so if they haven’t done it before, they could be in a not so good situation,” said Torgerson.
“This will be a little better because we know all the board members. We go to church with them, we go out to eat with them, we go to ballgames with them. So, there’s no reason we can’t sit down and just talk to them,” said Crandall.
A move they hope will benefit students and teachers alike.
The vote to decertify does not eliminate the Deerfield Teachers Association only its ability to negotiate with Deerfield’s school board.
The remaining DTA members are still part of the state teachers union.