14 CIR 101 (2002)
|ALLEN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, an||)||CASE NO. 1020|
|Petitioner,||)||FINDINGS AND ORDER|
|DIXON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT||)|
|NO. 26-0070, A/K/A ALLEN CONSOLIDATED||)|
|SCHOOLS, a Political Subdivision of the State||)|
|For Petitioner:||Mark D. McGuire|
|McGuire and Norby|
|605 South 14th Street|
|Lincoln, NE 68508|
|For Respondent:||John F. Recknor|
|Recknor & Associates|
|2525 "N" Street|
|P. O. Box 30246|
|Lincoln, NE 68503|
Before: Judges Orr, Blake, Burger, Council (not participating), and Lindahl (EN BANC)
NATURE OF THE PROCEEDINGS:
Pursuant to NEB. REV. STAT. § 48-818 (Reissue 1998), Allen Education Association (hereinafter "the Association"), filed a Wage Petition on or about December 10, 2001, seeking resolution of an industrial dispute for the 2001-2002 contract year. The Association is a labor organization formed by teachers employed by Dixon County School District, also known as Allen Consolidated Schools (hereinafter "the District") for the purpose of representing teachers in collective bargaining. The District is a Class III School District.
Trial was held on March 25, 2002. The parties stipulated that the only term and condition of employment at issue to be resolved by the Commission is base salary to be used in the Indexed Salary Schedule. Pursuant to the stipulations of the parties at Pretrial and Trial, all other terms and conditions of employment for the District’s teachers for the 2001-2002 contract year shall remain unchanged as previously established in collective bargaining.
In order to determine the base salary, it is first necessary to determine the proper array of comparable schools. The evidence shows that the dispute over the array prevents the parties from reaching an agreement as to the base salary. The parties propose four common array members. The Association proposes that three additional school districts be included in the array. The District proposes that four additional school districts be included. The common array members are Emerson-Hubbard, Homer, Ponca, and Newcastle. The Association proposes the inclusion of Laurel-Concord, Pender, and Winside. The District proposes inclusion of Bancroft-Rosalie, Beemer, Randolph, and Wynot. See Table 1 for information on proposed comparables.
The Commission has established size and proximity guidelines for determining an array of comparable employers. Generally, array members must be no more than twice the size and no less than one-half the size of the compared-to employer. Scottsbluff County School District No. 79-0064 v. Lake Minatare Educ. Ass’n, 13 CIR 256 (1999)(citing numerous cases). Each of the eleven proposed array members meet these guidelines.
The parties have stipulated that the teachers’ work, skill, and working conditions at all eleven proposed array member school districts are similar and satisfy the standards set forth in NEB. REV. STAT. § 48-818 to permit a comparison of terms and conditions of employment if included in the array as decided by the Commission. The Commission has recognized that larger arrays are statistically more sound than smaller arrays. Therefore, the Commission will include all proposed array members which meet the Commission’s size and proximity guidelines and share similar work, skill and working conditions unless specific evidence demonstrates that doing so is otherwise inappropriate or makes the array unmanageable. See Scottsbluff County School District No. 79-0064; Hitchcock County Educ. Ass’n v. Hitchcock County Unified School District, 13 CIR 335 (2000); Geneva Educ. Ass’n v. Fillmore County School District No. 0075, 11 CIR 38 (1990).
The Association’s proposed array was presented by an employee of the Nebraska State Education Association. The witness testified that in selecting the array and preparing the Association’s analysis, he did not include the four schools proposed by the District because of a lack of proximity to Allen. The Association’s array of seven districts stopped at a distance of twenty-four miles from Allen. The evidence was that the District’s four additional schools are the following distances from Allen:
In addition to the distance from Allen, the witness for the Association testified that the array was of sufficient size to provide statistically correct results without inclusion of the four additional schools proposed by the District.
In Coleridge Educ. Ass’n v. Coleridge Community Schools, 13 CIR 376 (2001), the school district under consideration was a Class III school district located only nineteen miles from Allen. In that case the association proposed an array of sixteen school districts. The schools proposed for the array ranged from nine miles to forty-seven miles from Coleridge. Two of the schools opposed in this case for the reason that they are more than 24 miles from Allen were included in the proposed Coleridge array although they are 45 miles or more from Coleridge. The Commission, without adopting any hard and fast rule as to the limits of proximity for such comparisons, approved an array of thirteen schools, with four of the schools ranging from thirty-seven to forty-seven miles from Coleridge.
Similarly, in Clarkson Educ. Ass’n v. Colfax County School District, 13 CIR 31 (1997), the Commission approved an array of fourteen schools. Eight of those schools were more than twenty-four miles from Clarkson, ranging up to thirty-five miles away. Several of those schools are also included the arrays proposed by the parties in this case. In Lynch Educ. Ass’n v. Boyd County School Dist. No. 0036, 11 CIR 25 (1990), the Commission approved an array of sixteen schools within a radius of 60 air miles.
The Commission finds that each of the four schools opposed by the Association, Randolph, Wynot, Bancroft-Rosalie, and Beemer are in geographic proximity to the District and that no other reason has been presented for excluding them from the array. These four schools shall be included.
The District appears to base its argument against including the three additional schools proposed by the Association primarily upon whether they compete with Allen in athletic contests or are in the same class for such purposes. All of the schools proposed by both parties are Class III districts. Athletic contests are among the discretionary considerations of comparability which can be considered to the extent they are related in the evidence to work, skills, or working conditions. Schuyler Educ. Ass’n v. School Dist. No. 123, 8 CIR 331 (1986). In this case the parties have stipulated that work, skills, and working conditions are similar in all of the schools in the proposed arrays. Therefore, athletic contests are not relevant.
The Commission finds that the three additional schools proposed by the Association, Laurel-Concord, Pender, and Winside, meet the Commission’s criteria for inclusion in the array, and these three schools shall be included.
INDEXED SALARY SCHEDULE:
The parties do not urge any differences in the methods of calculation or analysis of the data, and have no factual dispute as to that data. The only issue remaining after selection of the array is the base salary from which the salary schedule will be adopted. That salary schedule, as shown at Exhibit 23, is a 4 x 4 Salary Schedule with eight columns ranging from eight to twelve steps in each column, all as shown in Exhibit 23. The array proposed by the Association would result in a base salary of $24,307.00, while the array proposed by the District would yield a base salary of $23,332.00. The base salary is determined by the Commission to be $23,716.00, as shown in Table 2.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT:
1. Respondent shall pay the teachers a base salary of $23,716.00 for the 2001-2002 school year.
2. All other terms and conditions of employment for the 2001-2002 school year shall be as previously established by the agreement of the parties.
3. Adjustments in compensation resulting from this Order shall be paid in a single lump sum with the payroll checks issued next following the expiration of this Final Order’s time for appeal or sooner.
All judges participating in this case join in the entry of these Findings and Order.
Issued April 30, 2002.