13 CIR 396  (2001)


                                        Petitioner, )
             v. )
 A Political Subdivision of the                                    )
State of Nebraska, )
                                       Respondent. )

Filed August 24, 2001


For the Petitioner: Mark D. McGuire
McGuire and Norby
605 S. 14th Street, Suite 100
Lincoln, Nebraska  68508
For the Respondent: John F. Recknor
Recknor and Associates
2525 N Street
P. O. Box 30246
Lincoln, Nebraska  68503-0246

Before: Judges Burger, Anderson, and Blake.



The Cedar Canyon Education Association filed a wage petition seeking resolution of an industrial dispute for the 2000-2001 school year. The specific issue under dispute was base salary. The Respondent is a Class I school district located in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. The Respondent answered generally, admitting the existence of an industrial dispute over base salary for the year in question.

At pretrial conference the parties stipulated to the fact that the work, skills, and working conditions of the teachers employed by the Respondent are comparable. The parties also stipulated that the staff in each of the districts in the Petitioner’s and the Respondent’s proposed array were sufficiently similar to satisfy the standards set forth in NEB. REV. STAT. § 48-818. It was further agreed that any adjustment in compensation resulting from the final order in this proceeding should be made by payment of a single sum with the payroll check next issued after the order became final, to the extent legally possible. The parties agreed that all other terms and conditions of employment previously agreed to by the parties should not be changed.

At trial, the Petitioner proposed six array members within the size and proximity guidelines commonly used by the Commission. These are Oshkosh Grade School, Lewellen, Hall, Haig, Lake Alice, and Lake Minatare. Respondent proposed no additional array members at trial.



The dispute in this case was how the Commission should consider the cost of health insurance for Cedar Canyon teachers when placing them in the comparability array. Cedar Canyon provides its teachers with single health insurance coverage, costing $235.83 per month, or the option of receiving the same amount in cash in lieu of the insurance coverage.

Petitioner argued that the Commission should follow holding in Crawford Teachers Association vs. Dawes County School District #0071, 11 CIR 254 (1991). In that case, the district offered a cash in lieu of insurance option similar to Cedar Canyon. None of the employers in the array offered such an option, yet the parties did not wish to change the nature of this benefit. Although only about one-half of the Crawford teachers actually took the health insurance benefits, the Commission placed all of the teachers within the array as if taking the health insurance benefits from the array districts.

Respondent argues that the Commission should also look to Nemaha Valley Education Association vs. Johnson County School District #0501, 12 CIR 83 (1994). Fringe benefit calculations were complicated by the existence of a cash in lieu of family health insurance coverage. The evidence included the opinions of the two teachers who elected the cash option. These teachers indicated they would not take health insurance benefits at another school, which did not offer cash in lieu of the insurance benefit. The Commission placed these teachers in the array without including a cost for health insurance benefits.

At trial, Respondent raised hearsay objections to the data questionnaire of the Cedar Canyon teachers, which included their response to a hypothetical question: whether they would take health insurance benefits at another school that failed to offer a cash in lieu option. These objections were overruled as constituting part of the testimony of Petitioner’s expert witness, whose underlying data may in part be based upon hearsay, and need not be admissible itself. In reality, the Commission does not need to refer to these responses to resolve this case, and expressly does not consider them.

All of the school districts in the array either offer no health insurance benefits, or a cash option benefit to their teachers which is sufficiently similar to Respondent’s plan to simplify the question of how to treat health insurance benefits in calculating base salary.

Hall $480 per month for insurance, or equivalent cash annuity
Oshkosh $600 per month in a Section 125 Plan
Haig $6000 per year in a flex benefit plan
Lake Alice $2300 per year for a retirement fund, insurance, or cash
Lewellen $7000 per year in a Section 125 Plan
Lake Minatare No fringe benefits

The Commission is not required to speculate what the Cedar Canyon teachers might elect in a school district offering only health insurance without cash options. None exist in the array. Nor should the Commission speculate as to whether those teachers would refuse cash offered to them. The record in this case contains the admission of the Superintendent of Cedar Canyon. The Superintendent stated that he would assume any of the Cedar Canyon teachers employed in a system offering cash in lieu of insurance would actually take the cash, if insurance coverage was not desired or needed.


The Commission resolves this issue by placing the Cedar Canyon teachers upon the array analysis at the full benefit costs offered at each school in the array. Having done so, the array calculations are as follows.


School District

Contract Days

Staff Index

Base Salary

Benefit Costs

Schedule Costs

Total Costs


Oshkosh GS




























Lake Alice







Lake Minatare








    The midpoint of total compensation under the above analysis is $287,332.00, less benefit costs of $24,055.00, leaving a schedule cost of $263,277. The staff index for Cedar Canyon is 11.72, which yields a base salary of $22,464 for the 2000-2001 school year.

    At trial it became apparent that although a written agreement had existed between the Petitioner and Respondent concerning terms and conditions of employment, all copies of the agreement had subsequently been misplaced. Both parties profess to have an understanding of the nature of these terms and conditions of employment. The parties stipulated and agreed to the entry of an order binding Petitioner and Respondent to bargain in good faith. The parties also agreed in good faith to achieve a new written agreement between the Association and the District setting forth the existing terms and conditions of employment, as modified by this order. That stipulation is approved, and an order entered accordingly.


1. Respondent shall pay to its teachers a base salary of $22,464.00 for the 2000-2001 school year.

2. All other terms and conditions of employment for the 2000-2001 school year shall continue as previously agreed by the parties, and are not modified by this order.

3. Adjustments in compensation resulting from this order shall be paid in a single lump sum with the payroll checks next issued after the effective date of this order.

4. The parties are ordered to bargain in good faith toward the establishment of a written agreement setting forth the agreed and existing terms and conditions of employment.

All panel judges join in the entry of this Order.