ETA Scholarship Fund Donation Drive
ETA Scholarship Solar Fundraiser
Comments from Mar. 12 School Board Meeting
Good Evening Trustees, Colleagues, and Community Members,
As ETA President, I have spoken to you on numerous occasions about my desire to focus on the many things we have in common in order to begin rebuilding our damaged relationship and reestablishing trust. Unfortunately, the district's seemly incessant need to be in control of the situation and set the terms of the discussion invariably hinders progress.
Our recently concluded negotiations session is a prime example. We were supposed to bargain a salary reopener, plain and simple. Instead, the district came forward with an initial offer which, not only opened a completely different article of our contract, but equaled a reduction in our per diem rate of pay. It was a nonsensical beginning that substantially increased the length of the process.
By law, the two teams are equals and must come to the table possessing the ability to reach an agreement. I've lost count the number of times the district team had to stop the process and check with the powers that be before proceeding. Clearly, they lacked the authority to bargain, which is also required by law. All of these machinations led to it taking seven sessions to reach agreement on a single issue. Ridiculous!
Next year hasn't exactly gotten off to an auspicious start either. I suggested to the Superintendent the two teams set up some dates for the end of April now in order to facilitate everyone's schedule. The response was to offer only two, April 17 or 20, even though management has been repeatedly reminded it is a hardship for teachers to be out of their classrooms on a Monday or Friday, not to mention the increased difficulty of finding a sufficient number of subs on those days. Hopefully, the district will be open to the possibility of alternatives more conducive to learning in the classroom and coverage by substitutes.
The LCAP process reveals a similar pattern of behavior. The current iteration has been very frustrating due in part to its extremely compressed timeline, an issue which I understand was discussed at your February 18 governance meeting. Since the new funding and accountability system was instituted, ETA has spent a great deal of time and energy stressing the importance of getting systematic input from all employees. Last year can be excused to certain extent due to a lack of familiarity with the new parameters, but many of the people I represent are once again feeling at best like an afterthought and at worst completely left out. I must take a moment to give credit to Assistant Superintendent Dan Deguara for his innovative use Google Docs as a way to provide input online.
Unfortunately, the deadline to this last-minute effort is Sunday, and teachers must first focus on second trimester report cards. When seeking to maintain a high quality program, why wouldn't a district focus on getting input from the people implementing it, the certificated and classified staff? Perhaps because doing so would require letting go of a certain degree of control.
My final example is the California Labor Management Initiative being put forward by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and a coalition of labor and management groups. One of the goals of the May symposium is to, "Highlight specific best practices, tools, and strategies used by district partners to build collaboration." From my perspective, this is exactly the kind of program we need to explore here in Evergreen right now, and I want to thank Trustee Mace for expressing interest in participating. We don't have the luxury of waiting until some time in the future while we watch the first year roll out. Our reopener negotiations should begin next month, and the entire contract is open for bargaining in 2016 -17.
Thankfully, it's not too late to take apart. The deadline for submitting an application is tomorrow. I have a copy of the flyer for each of you as well as more detailed information for Board President Songcayawon. http://cdefoundation.org/lmi/
(Note: no action was taken by ESD to participate in the symposium)
Of course, everyone wonders whether such collaboration is possible. Based on the marvelous news out of Sacramento regarding the suspension of state testing as the sole measure of school quality, the message is clear. Anything is attainable when there is a commitment to working together as partners and focusing on what’s best for students. test-scores-suspended-story.
In closing, I'd like to remind everyone the ETA Scholarship Fund Donation Drive is underway. It is a marvelous program which provides high school seniors who have come through Evergreen schools with the opportunity to earn money towards college. ETANews.org has more information on how to get involved, and I have an envelope for each of you in case you'd like to make a contribution.
Brian Wheatley, ETA President
408-272-0601 ext. 215
Dates to Remember
Spring Vacation - Apr. 3-10
School Board - Apr. 16 (SO @ 4 pm - Budget & 6:30 pm Regular Session)
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