Teachers and other school employees in the city are represented by the Charlottesville Education Association, which is in a similar phase of the process.
So far, Liechti said the key issues for teachers are small class sizes, compensation for teachers who substitute and more time for planning.
“Through the bargaining process is where we basically have everybody’s attention, and basically let them know that this is what the majority of what your workforce wants,” he said. “This is something that can really help us be better educators that can basically help keep your employees, who ultimately want to do a good job in your school division.”
A contract would provide clarity about the roles and responsibilities for teachers and help with recruitment and retention of employees, he said.
“We want to make sure that teachers are looking out for themselves, that they’re feeling comfortable in their positions, that they feel like they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and we’d like to have that in writing in the contract so that way we know what we’re signing up for,” he said.
Liechti said AEA representatives feel that everybody wins when teachers have a seat at the table.
“That’s the big thing that I’m telling people,” he said. “We haven’t had that in 30-plus years. This is a big shift and a big change.”