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Bratz resigns after 18 years

Request for voluntary teacher pay freeze at issue

January 13, 2010
LITTLETON—Milt Bratz, the chairman of the Littleton School Board, resigned after 18 years on the board.

Bratz resigned Jan. 5, the morning after a school board meeting during which the majority of the board voted to ask the teacher's union to voluntarily agree to a pay freeze for this year to help curb district expenses.

The vote was three to two, with Bratz and board member Diane Cummings voting against asking the union for the pay freeze. The vote is non-binding only; the board will ask the union to accept a voluntary pay freeze.

"They don't have to do it, it is only a request," said Art Tighe, the board vice chairman, who assumed Bratz's role as board chairman until the annual meeting in March.

Bratz did not view the vote as a request but a violation of trust between the board and union.

"Very simply, a promise is a promise. We negotiate in good faith and trust that each side will uphold the terms and conditions of the contract," Bratz said two days after his resignation, when asked why he left. "When one side attempts to default on an important part of the contract—as has happened here by putting the school staff in an embarrassing public position of having to defend pay adjustments already approved by the employer and the taxpayers—the trust and goodwill built up over the years through successful negotiations can be seriously jeopardized."

Bratz said wages had already been negotiated by the board and approved by voters at the ballot box and it was wrong to try and circumvent that by the request.

In his resignation letter, Bratz said "I will not have my promise to adhere to the provisions of these negotiated agreements compromised by an action heavy on symbolism but lacking in economic sense or really being able to impact the tax rate enough to justify reversing a previous unanimous [board] vote…"

Tighe said he did not agree with Bratz's characterization of last week's board vote but said he honored him for his many years of service.

Bratz was up for reelection in March and the board will not appoint a replacement for the less than two months of his term that remain, Tighe said. It would be too difficult to bring someone up to speed in the midst of budget time and preparing for the annual meeting, he said.

For more information, see Bratz's Letter to the Editor on page A4.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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