Archive for January, 2011

Late Start/Early Release

January 27, 2011

The district, KEA and other interested bargaining groups have been in discussion for several months over the issue of providing more time for teacher collaboration, training and performing other professional responsibilities.  To that end, a committee of administrators, teachers, KEA leadership, parents and community members was formed to develop a few proposals. This is an idea that has support from the superintendent, administrators, teachers and other groups within KSD.

 As you may know, in most surrounding school districts, there are many more days set aside as early release or late start than we currently have, and if you speak to teachers from those districts, most will tell you that it has been invaluable as a means to do a variety of things that enhance their teaching and student learning.  In the districts that have this time, they added minutes to the student day to keep with the state required 1000 hours of instructional time. Teachers in those districts understand that a few minutes extra each day is well worth the additional time they get on the late start or early release days. We currently have 8 days of early release/late starts and the 3 proposals that have been suggested are:

  1. Every Wednesday a 90 minute late start
  2. One half day every other Wednesday Every
  3. Wednesday a 2 hour late start

How the days will be directed is subject to bargaining, so you will have a voice in this, if adoption is recommended. Two community meetings will be held to provide information and gain input from community members, teachers and other KSD employees.    The first meeting is at Kentridge High School on January 31, from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, and the second is at Kentlake High School on February 1, from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM.  Come and see what’s being proposed.

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Message from Mary Lindquist

January 24, 2011

This is the text of a letter that WEA President Mary Lindquist sent out this past week.  The implications of any bill that radically changes the layoff procedures, transfer policies and/or seniority regulations should be considered very carefully.  Unfortunately, there are voices that are influencing the legislature that are speaking without the benefit of being in the classroom; of actually being a teacher and knowing the challenges facing us today.  The voices calling for removal of “bad teachers” are being heard loudly and must be countered.  The other side of the story must be told.  Your voice can be heard by writing to our legislators.  Go to http://www.ourvoicewashingtonea.org/ and tell them your story.  Here’s what Mary had to say:

“Sometime next week, it’s likely that legislators in Olympia will introduce a bill that if passed, would change teacher layoff procedures and transfer policies in ways that are detrimental to both educators and our students. Rather than wait until the bill is released and let you hear about it in the media or on Facebook, I wanted to tell you first. WEA leaders and lobbyists are monitoring things, and we will keep you informed as the issue develops. Here’s some of what we’re going to say if and when this bill is released:

• No one wants bad teachers in the classroom. That’s why school districts are implementing new evaluation systems that help identify and support the best teachers and weed out the ineffective ones. Let’s give it a chance to work before we impose yet another new mandate on local schools. The new research-based evaluation system is a balance of state and local input, it’s fair and it’s based on what works in the classroom.

• The proposed legislation apparently does nothing to prevent more teacher layoffs and budget cuts, which are the biggest problems our schools face. We are 48th in the country in class size, and we’re laying off teachers and support professionals when enrollment is going up. We don’t defend bad teachers, but our kids are trying to learn in overcrowded classrooms without the support they need.

• WEA members have been leaders in the education reform process, and we were proud to play a major role in the new evaluation law that passed last year. Our members know the classroom better than anyone else. We support research-based solutions that are proven to help students, and we’re working hard to protect education funding.

• Teachers, support professionals, legislators and parents must work together locally and in Olympia to ensure our children get the best possible education. They need reasonable class sizes now, and they can’t wait until the recession ends.

Visit the WEA website for regular news updates about action in Olympia, and for legislative advocacy tools, visit OurVoice.”

Another Arbitration Win

January 3, 2011

In addition to the arbitration mentioned previously (see Caseload Arbitration, Dec. 6), KEA also prevailed in another arbitration hearing, this one over when KEA Reps could hold meetings in their respective buildings.  KSD, under the watchful eye of Larry Miner, past HR Director, asserted that such meetings could not be held during the work day, including the thirty minutes before and after the school day.  KEA felt that the contract language was clear when it stated, “Representatives duly authorized by the Association shall be permitted to transact official Association business on school property at all reasonable times, provided that this shall not interfere with or interrupt normal school operations.”  (Article III; Section 2)  KEA filed a grievance which was denied by the district and then took the next step of advancing the matter to arbitration.

After hearing evidence from both sides, the arbitrator sustained the grievance and ordered the district to:

  1.  Provide written notice to KEA, withdrawing the demand for approval of meetings at the assistant superintendent level.
  2. Notify building principals and supervisory personnel that KEA is entitled to hold union meetings at all reasonable times that do not interfere with or interrupt normal school operations, including the periods before and after the student day.
  3. Notify building principals and supervisory personnel that while their approval is not necessary for the union to hold a meeting, they are entitled to notice a least one full school day in advance and may suggest a more appropriate time if they believe the meeting would interrupt normal school operations.

The district had tried to assert that their actions were consistent with the WAC (Washington Administrative Code, or state law) which controlled what has been referred to for years as “WAC time.”  Sadly for the district, the legislature repealed that aspect of the WAC in 2006, as the district should have known.  This decision clearly affirms the contract language that union meetings may be held during the thirty minutes before and after the student day (or at any other time, provided there is no interference with normal school operations).  In addition, there is no requirement that KEA inform building administrators of the content of these meetings, nor may the administrator refuse to allow a meeting.

The district did not agree with the decision and asked the arbitrator for reconsideration. The arbitrator declined reconsideration and the decision stands reaffirming KEA’s right.