Comments from Jan. 8 School Board Meeting
Good Evening Trustees, Colleagues, and Community Members & Happy New Year!
As we begin 2015, I'm hopeful we can settle our reopener negotiations fairly soon. Our next bargaining session is Tuesday, January 27, and by then the governor's proposed budget for next year will be common knowledge. Every indication is there will be more money for the current year, and a significant increase in the gap funding for 2015-16. Here's an excerpt from today's Mercury News regarding the tentative agreement in Eastside:
"If ratified by the East Side Teachers Association on Tuesday, the agreement would award members a 5 percent raise for this school year, plus up to 1.5 percent if the state infuses additional funds into school districts' basic funding."
"The two sides reached the proposed settlement after nearly three hours of talks Tuesday -- shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown told the Legislature that the state would increase K-12 funding by $5 billion next year. And, better-than-forecast tax revenue means more funding for schools this year. "
The additional revenue should provide the Evergreen School District with the flexibility to prepare a balanced three-year budget and still provide an appropriate and much needed salary increase for its employees.
Once we are able to resolve our contract issue, we can move forward and work together in other important areas such as successfully implementing the Common Core standards. As I mentioned when I spoke to you in December, the teachers I represent are suffocating under the weight of having to create as well as implement new curriculum. The time commitment required is simply unsustainable. I must admit it's very disheartening to have both the grievance denied and the demand to bargain dismissed by management, especially when I hear all the talk from the Superintendent about a more collaborative model of decision-making. As everyone knows however, actions speak louder than words.
ETA will continue to act in the best interests of our members and the students we teach. We are filing a Level 4 grievance in order to speak to you in closed session about the scope and depth of the problem as well as what we consider to be viable solutions.
I would also like to work with you regarding ways to deal with the ongoing attempts to privatize public education by corporate charters such as Rocketship. Particularly disturbing is the now common business practice of using local tax dollars as venture capital to fund expansion in other cities, counties, and even states. As you must be aware, Santa Clara County is the epicenter of this growing problem.
Neighboring districts such as Alum Rock and Morgan Hill have denied charter applications for very sound, comprehensive reasons only to have the county override their decisions. The result is the undermining of each district’s ability to continue to provide a strong educational program for all their students. It is inevitable these corporate charters will eventually see profit possibilities right here in Evergreen, and we need to be ready to deal with what amounts to a corporate takeover of neighborhood schools. I have a excellent article to share with you, which focuses on the issues in more detail.
In closing, I truly believe there is more that unites us in purpose than divides us as we continue our work of preparing the children of Evergreen for the future, and I hope to continue this conversation with each of you individually.
I would like to take a moment of personal privilege to commemorate the loss of one of our own. Angelica Rodriquez, a fourth-grade teacher at Millbrook, passed away suddenly right before Christmas. She was an amazing educator and an outstanding person who I had the privilege of meeting when she was a student in my fifth grade classroom in 1989. I want to thank the staff at Millbrook as well as Kathy Gomez and Gary Kishimoto for their leadership and resiliency during this very difficult time.
Comments regarding Local Reserve Cap Resolution
I strongly caution you against adopting this Local Reserves Cap resolution because it sends the wrong message to the Evergreen community especially after the passage of Measure H. I believe the voters supported the parcel tax in order to meet the needs of students now, not potentially grow the district's reserves. We certainly don't want a repeat of the situation a few years ago where programs and positions were cut during one of the worst economic downturns our country's history while Evergreen's surplus ballooned to over $20 million.
Instead, I suggest a resolution demanding the elimination of the three-year balanced budget provision. Everyone knowledgeable about the process understands the projections in that third year are so far off they are essentially meaningless, and I'm confident the Evergreen Teachers Association would join you in support of such a resolution.
(Resolution passed with a 5 - 0 vote)
Brian Wheatley, ETA President
408-272-0601 ext. 215
Dates to Remember
General Membership 3- 5 pm - Jan. 29 (NC) & Feb. 5 (JFS)
School Board - Feb. 12 (Norwood @ 6:30 pm)
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