"Most importantly, we want to bring closure to this issue at this time," said John Carson, president of the Douglas County School Board. "It's time for the district to move on. It's time for us to move on for our teachers and for our kids and continue with the education reforms that we are pursuing."
Wednesday's decision leaves the collective bargaining questions off the ballot. An attorney for the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees warned the district that the union would sue if any anti-union questions were placed on the November ballot.
Instead, the school board will passed resolutions making it board policy to sever union ties rather than create a ballot question that does cost taxpayer dollars.
Douglas County Schools will no longer engage in collective bargaining with the union and collect union dues from employee paychecks, as well.
Brenda Smith is the president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees. She says the union won tonight.
"This is policy that our school board has the ability to do," said Smith. "So, I think tonight was a big victory for our teachers, our students, and our community. The board realized that they don't have the ability to move forward with these ballot initiatives and I think it is a good idea for them not waste taxpayers dollars doing that."
Hundreds of parents; teachers, both current and retired; and community members marched outside of the district headquarters earlier Wednesday. They held signs supporting the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees.
"We're trying to focus on what's right for our kids, our students," said Dan Gerken, vice president of the school board, before the vote.
Douglas County is currently in an ongoing lawsuit surrounding a pilot program of a school voucher system.
Gerken says the vote sends a message that the old system of school is being reformed.
"We're looking forward to a dialogue, as opposed to these constant arguments with the union," Gerken said. "They got used to some pretty nice perks over the years, a lot of cronyism. We're just not putting up with that anymore.
Robert Herrell, retired from 29 years of teaching, organized protests against the school board.
"We did what we were asked and now all of a sudden, we're the bad guys," Herrell said. "It's a ploy. They want to privatize schools, and that's what this all about."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)