In the thread on what is going on in Washington DC, there was some mention on what was going on in the contract talks between SPS and SEA. I received this e-mail from the SEA. I post without comment.
SEA Bargaining Update July 23, 2010
SEA and District Far Apart in Negotiations
Your SEA Negotiations Team met with the District team on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. We continue to be far apart on issues that you have told us matter most to you. The district is holding fast to their major proposals on:
• tying student growth based on MAP scores, MSP scores, and end-of-course assessments to certificated employees evaluations;
• use of evaluations as the lead factor in reduction in force, as opposed to strict seniority.
There has been very little to no movement on what you have told us are your two most important issues:
• class size/staff ratios/caseloads to give students the attention they need and deserve;
• compensation to attract and retain high quality educators to Seattle Public Schools.
The SEA has made proposals on these priorities and many others that you told us need to be addressed.
The District has proposed an evaluation system that includes tying evaluations to student growth based on MAP, MSP, and end-of-course assessments. We will be holding Focus Groups at SEA this coming week to share the details of the District’s proposal and to get feedback from our members about what they think about it. Our goal is to have up to 5% of each school/program’s certificated staff involved. Please contact SEA to attend a focus group to give us your feedback. Focus groups are at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 26 and Wednesday, July 28; 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 29. We have one evening session on Wednesday, July 28 at 7 p.m. Call us to sign up for the session of your choice. 206-283-8443 x100.
Here are some of our other thoughts about the bargain:
Fact: SEA is willing to problem solve solutions to help raise student academic achievement and to help close the achievement gap. SEA has offered research backed solutions that are actually working in other school districts in the country.
Myth: The SEA does not want to be accountable for student academic achievement. Many years ago, the SEA was the first local in Washington State to negotiate student academic achievement goals as part of our evaluations. There are very few contracts that include it even today. It was the SEA who went to the district with a proposal in 2004 about closing the achievement gap and developing the flight schools. This year, the SEA proposed working with the district to do a study over the coming years regarding the correlation between evaluations and student academic growth.
Fact: SEA believes that the work of the collaborative SEA and SPS Professional Growth and Evaluation joint task force should be honored. A joint task force of SEA and District staff collaboratively developed a four level evaluation system. A new law in place requires that the system be fully in place by 2013-14. The philosophy of the task force is to promote professional growth in employees and create a culture in the District of being life-long learners and improving instructional practice. We do not believe the evaluation system should be used primarily to weed out “low performing” teachers.
Myth: SEA is afraid to try innovative ideas that may help raise student academic achievement. After a lengthy debate, the SEA Association Representatives voted to authorize a memorandum of understanding that would allow for three of our schools to waive some contractual rights in order to receive a federal School Improvement Grant. The grant is designed to help raise student academic achievement.
Fact: SEA understands that the economy is not the best right now. SEA was willing to look at giving up the Learning Improvement Day that the state took away this past legislative session (loss of funds to the district and to your pockets). In turn, we reminded the district that it has taken many years to be competitive with other districts in the Puget Sound Region regarding compensation and we do not want to lose ground in the future.
Myth: The state is to blame for all of the district’s money woes. While Seattle delivered RIF notices, almost all other districts in the Puget Sound area did not have lay-offs this year. While the district continues to tell us that there is no money at all in the budget for increased compensation in the future, eight of our eleven comparable districts will get raises this coming school year, two will at least make the same amount of money as this year, and only one will lose the learning improvement day and have a cut in salary.
Fact: Since 2005-06, the district has begun each school year with more in their fund balance than budgeted. For 2009-10, the District began the year with $6.4 million more than they anticipated. SPS ended the 2008-09 school year with more than double the amount they anticipated in their ending fund balance ($55.8 million instead of the budgeted $22.4 million).
What’s next? ---------------
The SEA will be negotiating again on Tuesday, August 3, 2010. The District has promised to bring a comprehensive proposal to the bargaining table that will be in response to our comprehensive proposal that we put on the table for our Paraprofessional, SAEOP, and Certificated members.