3 CIR 62 (1975).


an Unincorporated Association, |
Plaintiff, |
Political Subdivision of the |
State of Nebraska, a/k/a Murray |
Public Schools, |
Defendant. |

Appearances: Theodore L. Kessner, Plaintiff

James E. Case, Defendant

Heard before Judges Kratz, DeBacker and Green


This case brings before us the Murray Education Association and School District No. 56 of Cass County, who are at variance as to wages, fringe benefits and other conditions of employment for the academic year 1975-1976. Since the School District of Murray is a class one school district, the Teachers' Professional Negotiation Act is inapplicable. There is no question of the Court's jurisdiction. An industrial dispute exists between the parties. Each party bargained in good faith prior to the invocation of the jurisdiction of this Court. While the School district suggests that bargaining was hampered by inadequate data, that is not an adequate reason for remitting the parties to the bargaining table. Therefore, it is our obligation under Section 48-818 to resolve this controversy.

The District is a class one district. There are few class one districts within some fifty miles of Murray. Thus, the usual standard of geographical proximity applied in 818 cases cannot be utilized here. See Tecumseh Education Association v. School District of Tecumseh , 2 CIR 119-8, 119-9 (1975).

This Court had an almost identical situation before it in District 8 Elementary Teachers Association v. School District No. 8 of Dodge County (North Bend) , 2 CIR 95-1 (1974). In that case, to solve the problem of lack of comparable schools within geographic proximity, this Court utilized a list of six class one school districts, those having seven or more teachers, operating with a class six district, and excluding the five largest districts. The underlying teaching of North Bend is that when geographically proximate districts are not available for comparison, districts of comparable size and class from throughout the state should be utilized. In this respect, the principle used in North Bend , is comparable to that which we utilized in Omaha Association of Firefighters, Local 385, v. City of Omaha , 2 CIR 117-1 (1975), and approved by the Supreme Court in Omaha Association of Firefighters, Local 385 v. City of Omaha , 194 Neb. 436 (1975).

North Bend provides a method for dealing with this case, selection of a group of other class one districts comparable to defendant. We are not of course absolutely bound to utilize that method. As the Supreme Court emphasized in Crete Education Association v. School District of Crete , 193 Neb. 245, 255 (1975):

"***We are not prepared to say that merely because one set of school districts was deemed adequate in one case, a different set of school districts would necessarily be inadequate in a different case, particularly where different evidence is adduced."

If we became convinced that a prior case inadequately effectuated statutory policy, we could decline to follow it on that basis. However, where the facts of a case are closely analogous to those of a prior case, the prior case should be resorted to as the method for resolving the case before the Court, unless the Court determines to overrule the prior authority. Where factual distinctions or policy grounds are relied upon as a basis for refusing to follow a prior case, those distinctions should be clearly articulated.

In this case, we believe that North Bend provides appropriate guidance. The decision there is analogous to our subsequent decision in the Firefighters case dealing with a comparable problem. That is not to say that the exact method utilized in North Bend is controlling. The particular districts selected in that case were selected upon the basis of the record before the Court. The general method, however, of selecting a pool of comparable class one districts should be applied, in the absence of strong evidence from the defendant as to an alternative method.

The Union in its Exhibit 3 presents a list of thirteen school districts claimed to have been selected on analogy to the North Bend decision. However, one of those districts, Imperial, is not a class one district. Utilizing the thirteen districts on Exhibit 3, Atkinson is the median district. The total teacher compensation cost to defendant were its teachers paid upon the basis in that median district would be $109,374.25. The Union seeks a $7,600.00 base salary with a 4 x 4 index and fringe benefits with a cost of $2,693.10. On the Exhibit 3 basis, this salary and fringe benefit with the step increases shown on Exhibit 6 would produce a total cost to the defendant of $109,321.10. If the Exhibit 3 array is utilized in its entirety, the base compensation, index, step increments, and fringe benefits sought produce a total cost comparable to the median of Exhibit 3, and would hence be appropriate under prior authority. Nebraska City Education Association v. The School District of Nebraska City , 2 CIR 116-5,116-6 (1974).

If Imperial, not a class one district, is removed from plaintiff's Exhibit 3, the midpoint on the Exhibit lies between atkinson and Valentine and is approximately $108,713.12. Subtracting the fringe benefit cost of $2,693.10, there would be available $106,020.00 for salary. Assuming the index of 4 x 4 and the same number of steps as plaintiff seeks, this total dollar sum available for salaries would produce a base salary of $7,556.00. In its Exhibit 6, the defendant presents an array of school districts which it deems comparable. It utilizes averages to compute what it believes to be the appropriate levels of compensation and the like. However, if the median, rather than the arithmetic average of Exhibit 6 is utilized, the median lies between Murdock with a total cost of $112,265.50 and Decatur with a total of $110,173.30. That produces a median of $111,219.40. Defendant computes the cost of an appropriate fringe package at $2,292.30. This would leave $108,927.10 available for salary. Dividing the collars available for salary by the staff index factor utilized by defendant, 14.39, produces a base salary of $7,569.63. Thus, defendant's Exhibit 6 does not support a result essentially different from, the results supported by plaintiff's Exhibit 3, if Imperial, not a class one district, is removed from Exhibit 3.

On these facts, the use of Exhibit 3 of the plaintiff with Imperial elided would be fully consistent with our prior decision in North Bend . We therefore utilize it to set a base salary of $7,560.00. Both parties agree on an index factor of 4 x 4. Both parties agree that the appropriate fringe benefits are Blue Cross-Blue Shield single benefits with a monthly cost of $19.10. Plaintiff's Exhibit 5 demonstrates that the salary designed on Exhibit 6 in terms of incremental steps each column and number of columns would be comparable to the practice among the class one districts on plaintiff's Exhibit 3. At the commencement of the hearing, the parties notified the Court that they had reached agreement upon a grievance procedure.


1. The scale of wages for certified teachers employed by the defendant school district shall be computed in accordance with a salary schedule having a base salary of $7,560.00, index increments of 4% vertically and 4% horizontally, with columns and steps as displayed upon plaintiff's Exhibit 6 at trial, a copy of which is appended hereto;

2. The defendant District shall pay monthly health insurance premiums for each certified teacher in the sum of $19.10 for single Blue Cross-Blue Shield benefits;

3. The parties shall adopt and utilize the grievance procedure upon which they have reached agreement;

4. Except as specified in this order all other aspects of compensation and terms and conditions of employment presently set or agreed upon by the parties shall remain unchanged by this order;

5. This order shall be effective from the first day of the school year 1975-1976.

Entered November 17, 1975.