Story last updated at 2:53 p.m. Thursday, September 26, 2002

Teacher weighs in on contract
This is an open letter to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District board members.

Dear school board:

Most of you know me. You have seen me on stage, heard my groups, worked on KPSAA with me. I am one of your veteran teachers. At the risk of sounding immodest, I am an excellent teacher who has always tried to be part of the solution. I would not likely be characterized as radical. Like my colleagues, I care deeply about the KPBSD and even more deeply about the students I am entrusted to teach.

Last week, I went to Homer Middle School's open house as both teacher and parent. I was struck once again by the depth and breadth of teaching talent here on the peninsula. I know and I am grateful that my son is receiving a quality education in this community. I am in awe of the teachers I know in my schools (HHS and HMS) and around this district. They are exceptionally bright, caring, motivated, gifted educators. They inspire me.

I have watched this last spring and summer with horror as the district's negotiation team has resorted to the worst kind of "hardball" tactics in an effort to "win" at negotiations. This breaks my heart. I love this community, the kids of this community, the hard-working and well-meaning people in central office and my colleagues. I know that a win by those standards is a loss for us all.

These things I believe:

The future of our school district and its children lies in our ability to recruit and retain the best teachers;

Our salary and benefits package is no longer remotely competitive;

It is the responsibility of each level of hierarchy to facilitate the work and morale of the levels below. Thus, as I am responsible for helping students learn, it is your job to help teachers teach and give central office the tools to recruit and retain teachers who will want to stay here because it is again a great place to teach;

If teachers "lose" in negotiations, students lose;

The No. 1 factor in determining the quality of a school district is the combined expertise and morale of its teaching staff. We are the bottom line.

The teachers and support staff in this district are NOT happy. We love our jobs and the students and colleagues we work with, but we are frustrated to no end by endless cuts, lack of raises, and unproductive hardball bargaining from central office.

These are my beliefs. Just thought I'd share my point of view. It reflects, I believe, the overriding sentiment of my esteemed colleagues. We want to teach. We want to be fairly compensated for our talents, expertise and hard work. We want what's good for kids and for the future. These things are not too much to ask. I implore you to rethink your approach to this contract.


Mark Robinson, choral director, 18th year working for the KPBSD, Homer High and Homer Middle schools