Posts Tagged ‘KSD’

2/24/2010 KEA Links: Evaluation Goal-Setting Form Finally Resolved

March 8, 2010

It began in the fall of 2008 with a few reports from KEA building reps about a variety of new forms being used for setting annual evaluation goals.  Now, after several months of grinding through the grievance process, a successful arbitration hearing, and a few months of post-arbitration bargaining, the district has been compelled to only use a set of forms that comply with the KEA/KSD contract.  Despite its rhetoric about “partnership,” the district dragged its heels and created unnecessary delays at every possible turn, as it resisted living up to its contractual agreements.

 Administrators Had Created New Evaluation Criteria

At the core of the issue were a series of evaluation goal forms—  different from any found in the contract, different from those used at other schools in the district, and sometimes different than those used right down the hall.  Some of these were just variations on a common theme, while others linked teacher goals directly to student WASL scores, the school motto, or a variety of criteria foreign to the contract.   Teachers were often forced to adopt these goals without an opportunity for meaningful discussion or to come to an agreement on goals. 

 Successful Arbitration

KEA insisted that the district return to the language of the contract, allow teachers the opportunity to develop and discuss their goals, and only if no agreement is reached, to assign goals only from the CAM rubric.  This is what the contract says is to happen (Article VIII, Section 2).  The district denied the grievance at superintendent level, and the Association insisted on taking the matter to arbitration.  The arbitration hearing was held in early October 2009, briefs were filed by both parties (the district’s was late, of course), and the arbitrator decided in December that the district was wrong and that they would have to cease using their made up forms.

 Development of New Forms (and more district stalling)

The arbitrator’s decision also directed the district to negotiate goal setting forms with KEA that would comply with the contract.  This, too, resulted in more stalling by the district.  KEA President Lisa Brackin Johnson and UniServ Rep Mike McNett met with a roomful of district administrators on January 4, 2010 to discuss forms.  The discussion was cordial and the district promised to send new drafts to KEA.  Several weeks passed and the district sent nothing.  KEA prompted the district to send the drafts, but the district continued to delay.  If the parties could not reach an agreement, the arbitrator had retained jurisdiction for 70 days and was ready at that time to decide which forms would be appropriate.  On the 69th day, a Friday, KEA sent forms of its own to the district, having still not received the promised drafts.  The district sent its forms to KEA later that afternoon, and KEA quickly made revisions and sent them back.  The Association then sent a copy of this to the arbitrator for a decision, having not reached an agreement within the set time frame.  True to form, the district’s general counsel Chuck Lind requested an extension.  70 days was not enough for him, apparently, even though the parties were already almost a year and a half into the grievance process.  The next week, an agreement was reached.  The district had made one change from the forms KEA returned to them on Friday—they dropped an “or” from an “and/or.”  The issue is now resolved, “just” 16 months after the union objected to this violation of the contract.

 New Forms Available Soon!

The new forms are now available to principals and through the KEA website (http://www.kentea.org/members/contract.html).  They will be in use for the remainder of this year, and in the future until such time, if ever, that KEA and the district agree to change them.  The forms include a goal setting form for the CAM, a goal setting form for the PGP, and a mid-year reflection form.  These are to replace the hodge podge of documents that administrators have invented on the basis of their own flashes of creative inspiration.

 How Does This Affect Your Current Goals?

How would you like it to affect your goals?  If your goals were developed through mutual agreement, then they can just be pasted into the new form or stapled to it.  You won’t need to start over from scratch.  If you and your assessor were unable to reach an agreement, and you were therefore assigned a set of goals, then these goals must be directly from the criteria in the contract (see the CAM rubric Exhibit L, or a subsequent exhibit for non-classroom positions).  If you were assigned one or more goals by your administrator, through the use of a goal form or by other means, and if that goal or goals are not directly from the contract, then you can use the new form to develop new goals.

 Principal Training

In a positive step, the district has agreed to provide training for principals and assistant principals in the correct use of the new forms and the goal setting process.  This training is scheduled for March 4th, after which the new forms will begin to be used.  KEA welcomes this step and hope it leads to a smooth and contractually correct use of the new documents.  If it doesn’t, let your building rep know right away.

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KEA Successfully Defends Member Rights

January 26, 2010

In addition to the big arbitration win, the last several months have seen some other significant wins by KEA and its members, including:

  •  KSD finally agreed to allow Shared Leave for a teacher who had a Caesarean Section.  Human Resources argued that since the procedure was scheduled, rather than an emergency, it didn’t count as a, “serious medical event.”  Through the grievance process, KEA was able to encourage the district to come to their senses.  Henceforth, C-Sections will be included in the list of acceptable uses of Shared Leave.  (Article V in the contract)
  • One teacher discovered last year that her final evaluation included complaint letters from other teachers in the building.  The KEA used the grievance process to have the district remove these letters.
  • Another teacher who taught a “0” period in addition to a full day of classes had not been paid extra for teaching the additional class.  KEA and the teacher filed a grievance that resulted in the district paying the extra pay retroactively.
  • Instructional Coaches in the various buildings had been told that they were required to attend trainings over the summer, and then in the evening through the school year, amounting to 30 hours of class time.  They were also given additional, “homework,” they had to complete.  Yet another grievance led to the district acknowledging that this class and the accompanying homework were optional.

What is KEA doing for you?

January 17, 2010

So, the strike has been over for a few months now, and everyone is back in their rooms.  After hearing so much from KEA before and during the strike, it has been pretty quiet recently.  As a result, you might be asking, “What has KEA been doing for me lately?”  The answer is, more than we can put in this blog entry!   Expect regular updates in the next few weeks.

KEA Wins Another Arbitration, KSD Weeps Gently

In the process of enforcing the contract, KEA has been forced on several occasions to file grievances about various violations of the contract.  Currently, Lisa, Mike, and Temple have about 20 they are working on!  Sometimes, when the initial steps of the grievance process cannot resolve the problem, KEA is forced to request an arbitration hearing to settle an issue.  In this case, a neutral arbitrator is selected to hold a formal hearing and rule on the matter.  KEA had already won two previous arbitrations in 2008 over the issues of seniority and an involuntary transfer, as well as the district’s overreliance on subcontracting through outside private agencies to hire teachers.  Yet another arbitration was decided in December.

At issue in this arbitration was the professional goal setting forms that were being used throughout the district in relation to our formal evaluations as teachers and certificated staff.  Depending on which building you worked at or which administrator was your evaluating supervisor, you may have seen any of several different forms.  These many different forms had been created across the district by various administrators, but were not included in the contract.  Additionally, some administrators in the district went so far as to assign the professional goals of teachers without their input, and tie teachers’ evaluation goals to their students’ test scores or to the buildings SIP plan!  At one elementary, the principal wrote on a Special Ed. Teacher’s goal sheet that 80% of their students would meet standard on the Reading WASL!  Obviously this was in violation of our contract and the spirit of our professional goals, but the district refused to acknowledge this fact.

While the district claimed it had the right to do this as part of their rights as management, KEA argued that the forms violated the contract.  (Article VIII of the contract)  Specifically, the District argued that there was a relationship between student test scores, the SIP plan, and the CAM (Certificated Assessment Model).  KEA’s own Mike McNett, however, argued that the forms went against the whole idea of a teacher setting professional goals based upon their own personal reflection through a collaborative process.  McNett also stated that teacher evaluations should be based on the professional practice of the educator and the extensive evaluative criteria already negotiated into the contract (CAM rubrics), not on student performance.  According to the contract, test scores are used appropriately when they are used by teachers for planning and preparation, not to determine whether a teacher is being effective or not.   We all know that teaching is about more than test scores…

The end result:  KEA won!  The arbitrator noted in his decision in favor or KEA that the Kent School District cannot continue, “unilaterally adopting goals and criteria,” that it wants without bargaining.  Instead, the arbitrator said the evaluation process must be conducted in a way that allows for, “uniformity, equity, and objective assessment throughout the District.”  So when the district invented different forms in each building that were not in the original contract, it went against the contract’s provisions for equal assessment criteria throughout the district.  The ruling went on to say that some teachers were, “inappropriately guided in the selection of their goals,” by their supervising administrators.  KEA was pleased with the result, to say the least.   Once again it was shown that the district’s administration continues to erroneously claim power over KEA members that is not a part of our contract. 

So now that the decision is in, what’s next? The arbitrator ordered KSD to immediately stop using any forms not currently in the contract, and told both parties to go back to the bargaining table to settle the issue of which forms would be used in future goal setting conferences.  Since that time, both sides met in a bargaining session that Lisa and Mike described as, “surprisingly pleasant.”  The proposed changes that KEA brought to the table were largely accepted, with only a few suggestions by the District for minor changes.   KEA will let you know how this might affect you as more info is available.  Talk to your Building Rep if you have questions.

It still seems amazing to many of us that the district truly believed that it could dictate our goals to us, and base them on student scores rather than on the criteria in the contract.  Once again, the district continues to downplay the professionalism of its employees.  KEA maintains that when any KEA member sits down with their supervisor, it should be in a spirit of collaboration, rather than an exercise in dictatorial top-down management in violation of the terms of our contract.  Let’s hope that this arbitration decision will help the district see that it is better to work with KEA’s members than against them!

KSD Superintendent Grohe Deserves A Schrammie, Too

May 1, 2009

Kent School District Superintendent Barbara Grohe may be even worse than Schrammie winner Superintendent Tom Seigel.  (Check out the original story here.)

Under the direction of Dr. Grohe, the Kent School District has taken the following action:

  • Announced the layoff of 129 professional employees, only 5 of whom are administrators.
  • Proposed a cut of seven days’ pay for teachers, and threatened the loss of five more days of pay.  This is on top of the loss of one state-funded “Learning Improvement Day” and the loss of a cost-of-living increase.

At the same time, Dr. Grohe has been responsible for the following:

  • Over the past 4 years, the number of district administrators has grown by 15%, while the teaching staff has increased only 4%.
  • Class sizes, particularly in upper grades, often exceed 35 students per class.  With the loss of over 100 teachers, they will only get larger.
  • Kent teachers are already the lowest paid teaching staff in the entire Puget Sound region.
  • Completion of construction of a new elementary school to replace a current building, and is contemplating replacing a second building in the near future.
  • Maintained a General Fund balance that is currently at $21.2M, and has not dipped below $18M at any time in the past three years.  Dr. Grohe says that this balance helps maintain the district’s bond rating, and that some of the money has already been invested in frozen food.
  • The District installed an expensive “SmartBoard” in each classroom, including an LCD computer projector.  Over two years, they have installed 3,600 of these units.
  • The District purchased 12,000 computers this year, and 10,000 in the previous year.  They have given a laptop to every 7th grader in every middle school, often at the expense of teachers and 8th graders who had their computers taken away.

Buildings, computers, bond ratings, frozen fish sticks, and slush funds may be fine to some in good times, but not at the cost of over-crowding classes, narrowing the curriculum, and grossly underpaying those teachers that survive the layoff.  Kent teachers are left to wonder where Dr. Grohe’s priorities really lay?

KSD Misrepresents KEA Bargaining Proposals

May 1, 2009

After only two Bargaining sessions, it seems that the Kent School District has chosen a hard line position in bargaining with the Kent Education Association’s 1,800 members.  First, the KSD presented a list of Bargaining proposals on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 to KEA that will cut salaries and benefits, among other repressive measures.  (See “KSD Brings Its Proposals To The Table, And They Ain’t Pretty,” previously posted on this blog for a summary of KSD’s proposals.)These proposals were brought forth only days after the Kent School District announced that 125 certificated staff faced layoff notices. 

On the other hand, the Kent Education Association brought forth a variety of contract proposals aimed at improving student instruction and attracting and keeping quality teachers and certificated staff in Kent.  KEA hopes these proposals will improve Kent School District’s standing in Washington, since Kent currently is among the lowest in terms of per-pupil spending and the worst in terms of teacher compensation in the Puget Sound region.  KSD provided no counter-proposals to KEA’s innovative ideas that would have shown a spirit of cooperation and compromise. 

The District’s draconian proposal was followed by a post on the Kent School District website entitled, “Bargaining Begins — Proposals Shared.”  The document purports to show KEA’s proposals side-by-side with the KSD’s proposals in a, “continued spirit of transparency.”   However, on closer inspection, one will notice that the KSD attaches dollar amounts to several of the KEA proposals, while providing no information about the financial impact on teachers of KSD’s proposed cuts to certificated staffs’ salary and benefits.  Additionally, several of KEA’s proposals are misrepresented or taken out of context. 

KEA Vice President Connie Compton responded, “What is posted there is incredibly slanted.  Some of the things under our proposals are taken out of context, some are misrepresented, some are slanted or imply things that aren’t true – for example the webmaster and roster master are not new positions we are asking to create, they are positions the district created and work we are expected to do, currently without pay.”  One can only wonder why the School Board would allow KEA’s proposals to be misrepresented on the KSD’s website, a public forum.

KEA encourages its members to write Superintendent Grohe and the members of the School Board to express their disappointment in KSD’s bargaining proposals and current tactics of misrepresentation of the KEA’s proposals.

Lisa Brackin Johnson

Kent Education Association