Money lost in the shuffle during debate over attire.
The most recent contract negotiations for Garden City teachers have come to an end, thankfully.
It's always good to have a reasonable deal in place when it comes to taxpayer dollars. But during the latest round of negotiations between the local teachers' union and Garden City USD 457, clothing — not dollars — became the chief sticking point as the two sides were at odds over particulars of a dress code for teachers.
At issue from the start was who would determine professional dress for teachers. Much of the fuss centered on blue jeans, as the district had proposed that teacher work-day attire meet or exceed requirements for other staff — paraprofessionals and clerical workers, for example — who may not wear blue jeans.
The sides disagreed over whether teachers or building administrators would determine what's professional when it comes to attire — a clash that made it necessary to bring in a mediator, which understandably had many district patrons shaking their heads and questioning how a rift over clothing could hinder negotiations.
That said, teacher attire should never be considered trivial.
Educators, after all, serve as role models. How they present themselves in the classroom matters, especially in today's educational environment.
A professional appearance demands respect. Dressing smartly sends a message that education should be held in high regard.
Most educators do indeed dress appropriately. But some are too cavalier with their attire, and should project a better image in the eyes of their students and the community.
The final contract approved by teachers says they must dress in business casual attire. Exceptions for field trips and other necessary assignments could be designated by the building principal.
And as for financial particulars, in the end it was decided that base pay for teachers would increase $248 because of an addition in the number of students counted for the district.
Money, usually the point of contention in any contract negotiation, never emerged as the key issue.
While surprising, perhaps that was a positive at a time teacher pay has become one of the more pressing education-related concerns of the day.