We began our session with a description of the funding structure of Adult Basic Education and Early Childhood Family Education programs from district Community Education Director Steve Kerr. We asked a number of questions about their intentions regarding putting ABE/ECFE teachers, who are on a significantly lower pay schedule than the rest of our unit, onto the regular salary schedule. Kerr responded that the state funding has not kept pace with increases in costs. We also asked if the school board had any intention to subsidize these programs like they do other underfunded priorities. They do not seem to be planning to use general fund dollars to bolster these programs, despite the high returns on investment for this kind of education.
Next, the district team made an “alternate economic offer”. They proposed adding an additional step between Step 11 and Career 1 that would split the increase a member normally gets as they go into the career steps. The money saved from lengthening the contract this way would be used to fund an increase on the career steps of 1.25% the first year and 1.55% the second (they still propose no salary schedule improvement on the earlier steps).
The district confirmed that this proposal includes no real improvement over their last offer, it simply rearranges where the money is placed around the schedule. That was the same situation in their last offer, so though this is their third proposal, there is effectively no change from their first offer. You may remember that the first offer only had money added onto the career steps that was taken from a reduction in district contributions to our health care premiums.
In summary, we have had three economic offers from the district that are effectively the same value as our last settlement, despite an improvement in district finances.
The district team also presented a couple of language items. The first was a response to our communication time idea. They shared a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding six hours of communication time at the secondary level for addition to the contract. One of the AHEM team’s concerns was that those hours were used with varying levels of success. We would like to see any communication time be at the discretion of the teacher so it can be tailored to each educator’s specific assignment. Both sides acknowledged that there needs to be more work on a solution at the elementary level.
The district also introduced an item that would provide exceptions to current seniority rules. They would like to see those with training in International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, AVID, Reading Recovery, Project Lead the Way, College Concurrent Enrollment, Music Teacher area of specialty focus (winds, strings, choral), and/or other mutually agreed upon programs be able to be retained in the case of layoffs over teachers with more seniority. Though the categories are new, the district has introduced similar language for the past several rounds.
After a short caucus, the AHEM team confirmed that we agreed to the new positions the district proposes adding to the contract in Appendix B. We decided that we will respond to the economic proposal at our next meeting November 6th, 4:45 pm at the AHEM office.