(1) The Legislature finds that it is in the public's interest that collective bargaining involving school districts, educational service units, and community colleges and their certificated and instructional employees commence and conclude in a timely fashion consistent with school district budgeting and financing requirements. To that end, the timelines in this section shall apply when the public employer is a school district, educational service unit, or community college.
(2) On or before September 1 of the year preceding the contract year in question, the certificated and instructional employees' collective-bargaining agent shall request recognition as bargaining agent. The governing board shall respond to such request not later than the following October 1. A request for recognition need not be filed if the certificated and instructional employees' bargaining agent has been certified by the commission as the exclusive collective-bargaining agent. On or before November 1 of the year preceding the contract year in question, negotiations shall begin. There shall be no fewer than four negotiations meetings between the certificated and instructional employees' collective-bargaining agent and the governing board's bargaining agent. Either party may seek a bargaining order pursuant to subsection (1) of section 48-816 at any stage in the negotiations. If an agreement is not reached on or before the following February 8, the parties shall submit to mandatory mediation or factfinding as ordered by the commission pursuant to sections 48-811 and 48-816 unless the parties mutually agree in writing to forgo mandatory mediation or factfinding.
(3)(a) The mediator or factfinder as ordered by the commission under subsection (2) of this section shall be a resolution officer. The commission shall provide the parties with the names of five individuals qualified to serve as the resolution officer. If the parties cannot agree on an individual, each party shall alternately strike names. The remaining individual shall serve as the resolution officer.
(b) The resolution officer may:
(i) Determine whether the issues are ready for adjudication;
(ii) Identify for resolution terms and conditions of employment that are in dispute and which were negotiated in good faith but upon which no agreement was reached;
(iii) Accept stipulations;
(iv) Schedule hearings;
(v) Prescribe rules of conduct for conferences;
(vi) Order additional mediation if necessary;
(vii) Take any other action which may aid in resolution of the industrial dispute; and
(viii) Consult with a party ex parte only with the concurrence of all parties.
(c) The resolution officer shall choose the most reasonable final offer on each issue in dispute. In making such choice, he or she shall consider factors relevant to collective bargaining between public employers and public employees, including comparable rates of pay and conditions of employment as described in subsection (1) of section 48-818. The resolution officer shall not apply strict rules of evidence. Persons who are not attorneys may present cases to the resolution officer.
(d) If either party to a resolution officer proceeding is dissatisfied with the resolution officer's decision, such party shall have the right to file an action with the commission seeking a determination of terms and conditions of employment pursuant to subsection (1) of section 48-818. Such action shall not constitute an appeal of the resolution officer's decision, but rather shall be heard by the commission as an action brought pursuant to subsection (1) of section 48-818. The commission shall resolve, pursuant to the mandates of such section, all of the issues identified by either party and which were recognized by the resolution officer as an industrial dispute. If parties have not filed with the commission pursuant to subsection (6) of this section, the decision of the resolution officer shall be deemed final and binding.
(4) For purposes of this section, issue means broad subjects of negotiation which are presented to the resolution officer pursuant to this section. All aspects of wages are a single issue, all aspects of insurance are a single issue, and all other subjects of negotiations classified in broad categories are single issues.
(5) On or before March 25 of the year preceding the contract year in question or within twenty-five days after the certification of the amounts to be distributed to each local system and each school district pursuant to the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act as provided in section 79-1022 for the contract year in question, whichever occurs last in time, negotiations, mediation, and factfinding shall end.
(6) If an agreement for the contract year in question has not been achieved on or before the date for negotiation, mediation, or factfinding to end in subsection (5) of this section, either party may, within fourteen days after such date, file a petition with the commission pursuant to section 48-811 and subsection (1) of section 48-818 to resolve the industrial dispute for the contract year in question. The commission shall render a decision on such industrial dispute on or before September 15 of the contract year in question.
(7) Any existing collective-bargaining agreement will continue in full force and effect until superseded by further agreement of the parties or by an order of the commission. The parties may continue to negotiate unresolved issues by mutual agreement while the matter is pending with the commission.
(8) All collective-bargaining agreements shall be written and executed by representatives of the governing board and representatives of the certificated and instructional employees' bargaining unit. The agreement shall contain at a minimum the following:
(a) A salary schedule or objective method of determining salaries;
(b) A description of benefits being provided or agreed upon including a specific level of coverage provided in any group insurance plan, a dollar amount, or percentage of premiums to be paid, and by whom; and
(c) A provision that the existing agreement will continue until replaced by a successor agreement or as amended by a final order of the commission.