Friday, November 22, 2013

Session #11, Thursday, November 22nd

The meeting began with the district updating their responses to open items.

They responded that in general, they are not interested in adding items that are not mandatory subjects of bargaining. These types of items they are saying no to include:
  • Defining planning time, like the time we have on the planning days at the end of each trimester, as time teachers control to do independent work.
  • Adding three days per year of planning time
  • Capping the number of sections an elementary specialist teaches
  • Including class size and caseloads limits in our contract
They responded “no” to the following items as well. They assert that they have an economic impact and would rather put any costs toward pay and benefits:
  • Elmininating “sub deduct” days (days next to breaks when teachers need to pay sub costs to be absent)
  • Increase the number of personal days by one by changing one sick day into a personal day
There were some items they planned to say no to, but after further explanation from us, plan to take another look at. A common theme in the discussion was that they believed the current approaches to these issues were working well. We described concerns and specifics examples where they aren’t to justify why we want the following changes:
  • Adding six days of sub relief or pay for special education teachers to complete due process paperwork
  • Eliminating duties for traveling teachers
  • Adding grandchildren to be part of the immediate family for whom teachers can use sick leave
  • Allowing mothers to take parental leave, in the same way fathers can in our contract
Items on which we are still trading language back and forth:
  • Family Communication Time: Instead of our proposal to give elementary teachers working in dyad or triads ay for extra days or substitute relief, they offered to give each of those teachers a flat $200 stipend each trimester for the extra time they put in for parent communication.
  • Substitute Leave: They did not agree to our proposal to go to a capped hourly rate to compensate those who sub during their prep time, but may look at changing their hourly amount. In their description we heard that they intend to include the idea of “trade time” (teachers who work out coverage of each other’s classes so they do not have to use personal leave on an hourly basis) from a past memorandum of understanding in the contract. We need to review that and respond.
  • Extra Service Agreements and Leadership Pay: We are waiting to hear back on their response to adding Continuing Education Committee representatives and technology coordinators at non K-12 sites. Also, we asked to move Comp Ed building leaders to Level E for pay.
  • Leadership Pay / Extra Service Agreements / Appendix B Task Force: The district side said they don’t think they will be opposed to this task force, but were not ready to say yes or offer specific parameters on the task force.
Our response to their latest economic offer was that until we can agree to maintain current health insurance benefits, we don’t see the value of changing our proposal.  The district is proposing freezing current contribution rates. That would effectively end the current practice of 100% single coverage and increasing district contributions to family coverage by the same amount as the increase in single premiums.  Teachers would then pick up all premium increases from here on out.  Protecting our health insurance benefits is one of our members’ top priorities and we cannot agree to going backward.

Our next meeting will be at the Educational Service Center (ESC) on Wednesday, December 4th, at 4:45 pm.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Session #10, November 6th, 2013

The tenth bargaining session opened with a discussion of the Step Ahead Online High School.  The district proposed a $500 stipend to "monitor" a class and AHEM had a number of questions regarding what a "monitor" would do compared to what a teacher does.  Jess Lipa, principal at STEP, described the position as taking between one and one and a half hours per week and involves monitoring and responding to issues with attendance, assignment completion, and understanding the coursework itself.  It seemed that the major difference between a "monitor" (who would be paid $500) and a teacher (who would be paid their regular rate) in the program is the number of students in the class. The district wasn't able to define a tipping point in the number of students that would warrant going to our regular model for paying teachers.  

AHEM updated language proposals next.  We updated our family/parent communication proposal to include provisions for elementary teachers working in diads and triads.  The idea was laid out as follows:

"Elementary teachers who teach in a diad shall be granted their choice of either an additional half-day of conference time with substitute relief or half-day pay for conference time outside the duty day for each set of conference sessions. Elementary teachers who teach in a triad shall be granted their choice of either an additional full-day of conference time with substitute relief or full-day pay for conference time outside the duty day for each set of conference sessions. The scheduling of sub release days shall be mutually agreed upon between the teacher and building administration.

During fall conferences elementary buildings will continue with conferences as decided at the sites. During the second set of conferences teachers will have open times for conferencing and but not be required to set specific conference times with each student’s family, similar to conferences at the secondary level. Teachers may also use this time for phone, email, tele-conference, or other form(s) of communication mutually agreed upon with the parent/guardian."

Next, AHEM updated our substitute leave language proposal to agree to the district's proposal to use 360 minutes as the threshold for earning a day of leave for occasional substituting. We also agreed to the idea that this leave could not be carried over from year to year. We proposed that those seeking to be paid for substituting during their prep time would earn the capped hourly rate, which is an increase over the current amounts.
We wrapped up our language proposals by writing out what we believe both sides have proposed as additions and changes to leadership pay, extra services agreements, and coaching positions in Article X and Appendix B of our contract. We have come to a number of tentative agreements here, but did discover a few minor places where we are not yet on the same page.

AHEM asked the district if they have responses on our proposal to drop sub deduct days, give mothers the same parental leave options as fathers, and including grandchildren in leave language.  The district said they would check on their responses to all open items.

We next went to a discussion of economic proposals. AHEM did not bring a new proposal as we asserted that the district's tactic of moving money from one part of the total package to another was not the kind of movement we need to come to a settlement. 

The district then brought forward a new proposal. They said that due to a projected increase in enrollment of about 200 students, they had the authority to increase their proposal by $334,000. 

They now propose changing their offer by changing percentage increases on career steps to 1.25% the first year and 1.55% the second. They did not offer to change their proposal to freeze health insurance contribution rates at the current level or any changes to ABE/ECFE compensation from their last offer.

One surprise was that they also included a 1% increase on the pre-career steps in the contract in the second year that they said was also included in their previous two offers. The district said we were in error for saying increases were only proposed on the career steps. Those at the table on the AHEM side (and the audience members who have attended previous meetings as well) had not heard the 1% increase in the discussion. It is good to hear that the offer is more than we previous thought. However, that doesn't change our basic concern, which the district does not dispute, that those first three offers shifted it from one group of members to another instead of increasing the value of the package.

In response to our action at the last school board meeting where we invited school board members to the table, the district proposed holding a Meet & Confer with school board members where we all could discuss the budget. The AHEM team had concerns that as Meet & Confer does not have the same level of accountability as bargaining, that it may not help us make real progress.
We concluded by setting three new dates for bargaining, requesting that they all be held at the ESC in the Ehrling Johnson rooms as the turnout is out-sizing our original meeting places. The district will check on the locations and we chose November 21st, December 4th, and December 18th as the next session dates.