A Brief Guide to Negotiations Best Practices

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Author: Phil Saurman

Phil Saurman is an experienced K-12 financial advisor. He now works at Eidex as a Financial Data Analyst.

​As the old saying goes there are two things we all have to look forward to….death and taxes. As a K-12 school administrator we can add one more thing…..negotiations. As negotiations are unavoidable, it is important for a district to utilize “best practices” on a consistent basis to achieve the best and most transparent result for all parties in the process. Presented below are a series of best practices that a district may utilize to maintain efficiency and transparency throughout the negotiations process. These are not meant to be a complete list, as each district will have unique issues to deal with and include in their negotiations process.

Guide to K-12 Public Schools Collective Bargaining
Successful Negotiations Require Well-Planned Steps

​Overall Best Practices for A Successful Negotiations

  • Information sharing

  • Benchmarking

  • Budget information

  • Data collection/peer district comparisons

  • Contract review and summary

  • The Negotiations Roadmap Checklist


  • Professional development (MASA, MASB, MSBO)

  • Contract analysis – consider using a labor attorney or MASB

  • Meet with union leadership – establish expectations

  • Meet with district administrators – discuss bargaining process and current contract(s) issues

  • Meet with Board – discuss negotiations process, strategies and goals, negotiation law

  • Create and review a public relations plan for negotiations

  • Focus on financial aspect of the negotiations to reach common understanding

  • Establish the district negotiations team

  • Establish negotiation team tactics and strategies


An important element when preparing for negotiations is to collect an ample amount of relevant and highly descriptive data. This data can be used in reports, presentations, and other supplementary documents to facilitate data-oriented conversations around financial decisions. Eidex Focus, our software platform, allows users to access the following financial data with ease, along with the ability to perform predictive analyses and peer group comparisons.

  • Salaries

  • Employee benefits – retirement, insurance, compensated absences

  • Employee retirement history, trending

  • State aid

  • Fund balance history, trend, future goals

  • Student enrollment history, projections

  • Staffing data – classroom size, age of employee population

  • Specific cost savings needed or desired in the new contract(s)

  • Draft negotiations data – estimated cost for projected changes


  • Set negotiations goals

  • Review union proposal with the Board

  • Establish and review parameters with the Board

  • Review, revise and share your financial projections as details become more certain

  • Consider your public relation strategy/tactics on an ongoing basis


  • Establish public relations and communications plan

  • Strategy

  • Timing

  • Treat communications as a “must have” – key to success of the process


  • What went well?

  • Were the goals achieved?

  • How will information be tracked?

  • How well did the overall process work?What could be improved?

REMEMBER Negotiation is a process. The process follows a cycle to successfully attain a positive outcome. Always follow the steps to maximize the likelihood of a successful process.

  • Determine best practices and information sharing

  • Pre-bargaining process

  • Bargaining process

  • Review process and prepare for the next one

The best laid out plans do not always materialize into the perfect outcome. A successful negotiations process includes a contract and agreement that all parties can agree accomplishes the overall goals and objectives set forth in the original planning stages. The negotiations process does not end after one year. It is an ongoing process that loops around in a cycle. By informing all members of the results of negotiations annually, it helps create an open environment for future discussions. Our team at Eidex would love to help provide you with the necessary information for a successful negotiation. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at and let us know what you need!

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