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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tentative Agreement

I saw this agreement last night, hot off the district presses, but for some reason, the network I was on at headquarters wouldn't let me sign on here so I couldn't post it. The Labor Relations page has all kinds of versions of the agreement information (but ignore the Fast Facts - it's useless). There are some interesting things and some things I think are vague and wonder what they mean. Maybe some teachers out there can help us.

I did attend the Work Session on Maintenance (interesting) and about half the Board meeting (also interesting)but I'll post separate threads on those.

From the agreement:
  • looks like seniority is in and super seniority is out. I think the premise here is that if you start from a place where ALL teachers are good, then you have to have some mechanism to figure out who goes if there are RIFs and the union says seniority. (Yes, I know, that's mighty big if.) On the other hand, I think the union gave in at super seniority which probably doesn't happen all that often but was probably a nice thing for the teachers who got affected by school closures.
  • "Add an additional weekly hour weekly of paid collaborative time for all
    elementary and K-8 educators, with no changes to the length of the students’
    school day. " Okay but are there no changes to the school day just this calendar year (as was previously stated) or just for the 3-year length of this contract?
  • Effective 2011-2012, provide up to $500 support to all educators who are rated
    unsatisfactory on their evaluations or who have low student growth ratings and
    have been placed on a Support Plan." I wonder if there is any idea how many teachers they think might fall into this category and would they post it?
  • Compensation. What is interesting to me is that I was speaking with Michael DeBell in the break between meetings about the levy. We were talking about using some of the money, should it pass, for more maintenance needs. He said that anything that the levy money is used for has to be one-time because it would be able to be sustained after the levy is gone. So one, he isn't talking like the levy would be brought back again (although the history is that we do keep them, see I-728) but, more importantly, how would they continue to pay for the staff compensation under this new agreement? It seems like a big if.
  • SPS will not convert the defunded state LID day to a district-funded TRI day. Help! What does this mean?
  • Increase the circumstances under which educators are compensated for overages
    in class size. Okay, one, this is only for elementary so I'm guessing for middle and high school there isn't compensation? Or what they already have in place for those levels stays? Two, parents, this is the little secret that you should understand. Teachers probably would like smaller class sizes but they can't control that so they get paid more if the class sizes increase. So, they get something. You, on the other hand, get to have your child in a larger class but no aide or anything.
  • Maintain a special education DSU fund as follows: $250,000 in 2010-2011;
    $300,000 in 2011-2012; and $300,000 in 2012-2013. Again, help! Special Ed folks, what is a DSU fund? (This reminds me; I'm going to ask that the new website have an acronym directory for every department.)
  • Under assessment and evaluation system, there's this: Measures will not include observations of peer teachers/high school students nor will school-wide student growth measures be included. Hmm, I know some high school kids who will be disappointed. Also, this seems to mean that ONLY the principal will observe. As I pointed out last night during my testimony at the Board meeting, the nearly $1M that the district is paying out for the court case they lost to an assistant principal over harassment/retaliation should be a good lesson. In this case, multiple administrators used very poor judgment in their treatment of the plaintiff basically because she got transferred and got tagged a troublemaker. Not for performance but because she got transferred. We have many good professional principals but this case proves there are also principals who were not objective and fair.
  • Under Adjustments to Help Staff Members Manage Their Time, etc. - Perform a workload analysis and discuss it in Labor-Management Committee prior to the implementation of a new program, initiative, or curricular change. I absolutely agree with this but it doesn't say who would perform the analysis - the district or the teachers.
  • Again, help; what is a Level 1 school? It is referenced that site-based hiring teams and principals get to select all at all Level 1 schools, with no staff placements by Executive Directors of schools.
  • Make no changes to the role of BLTs. Interesting but is there a downside to this?
  • They are creating a K-8 Joint Task Force but I don't see one for Alternatives.
  • SEA and SPS will develop and negotiate a process, approved by both parties, that will allow agreed-upon schools to be able to apply for broad exemptions from SPS policies and SEA collective bargaining agreements in return for enhanced autonomy and accountability. The task force will determine qualifications for innovative status and the SPS policies and SEA collective bargaining agreement sections from which schools may be exempted. What is a definition of an Innovation School? I think that would be a good starting point BEFORE you do anything else.
Also, the FAQs have some interesting info like:
  • As a result, the district has also proposed: Academic interventionists are certificated staff members who work closely with high school students who are at risk of dropping out. These teachers not only help students stay on track with required state testing but also communicate with families and coordinate support services provided by counselors and social workers.
  • We restored funding for elementary school counselors at each school, and are working with schools to partner with community organizations and seek out additional funding to provide intensive support services for schools that have the greatest need for coordinated support.
  • Seattle has made significant strides in class size reductions over the past 20 years. Really? I'll have to follow up on this one.

10 comments:

Bird said...

What's "super-seniority"?

Charlie Mas said...

Super Seniority is a special status granted to staff who worked in closed programs. They get to go to the head of the line for hiring.

The defunded state LID day was a paid day of professional development. There used to be three a year paid for by the state, but the state cut them to two. Since it was included in the contract as a paid working day for the teachers, last year the District had to paid for it. They covered the cost as a TRI day - a District-funded professional development day. They won't do that going forward.

I think it is VERY interesting that Michael DeBell says that it would be unwise to pay for recurring costs out of the supplemental levy, when the District is looking to use that money to fund a raise for teachers.

I think "Level 1 School" is a reference to the District's pending performance management system. This seems to say that schools performing well get to choose their own staff.

Where are the academic interventionists for students before they get to high school? A stitch in time saves nine.

dan dempsey said...

.....Seattle has made significant strides in class size reductions over the past 20 years. .....

Well they sure have not in the last three years.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know the current class size limits for elementary grades? Or where I can find that information? Thanks.

dan dempsey said...

"Add an additional weekly hour weekly of paid collaborative time for all elementary and K-8 educators, with no changes to the length of the students’ school day. " Okay but are there no changes to the school day just this calendar year (as was previously stated) or just for the 3-year length of this contract?

Does this mean that the Teachers will be paid extra for working an additional hour outside of the contracted day?

Or does it mean that within the regular paid day .. things will be rearranged to provide this hour?

I would not be in favor of a District led collaborative hour given the UW SPS track record on math development for teachers (RBHS etc.).

Check Rainier Beach's results for Math with an additional planning period and UW guidance this last year.

So now we know Southeast Initiative did not work. The coaching model with lots of Professional Development does not work...... So lets beat up the teachers.

SPS math leadership is a pointless fiasco - like most stuff from TEAM MGJ.

SEE this on the superintendent's organizational chart and strategies.

Central Mom said...

The entire paragraph about a task force around innovation schools raises numerous questions/comments:

Now we have yet another school "type" (innovation) without definition...the district's policies over Option and Alt schools are already a shambles.

Earned autonomy has been promised for 3 years now, but our schools have nothing. No guidelines. No hope for "opting out" of policies and curriculum that do not fit local school needs/successes. Now a taskforce is going to "study" it? Does this mean 3 more years of inaction? That would result in the complete teardown of popular, good programs (Salmon Bay, Orca, TOPS, etc...)

Alternative schools have an active coalition that has been working with the CAO around preserving the successful programs MGJ's policies have torn apart. The contract language in no way mentions or aligns with ongoing alt school coalition/central admin discussions. PARENTS NEED TO BE THE THIRD PARTY AT THE TABLE HERE.

Some people are already reading this as an opening for getting charter schools into town via yet another public vote/state legislation. If this is NOT the intent, then why is this not better-explained in the contract?

SP said...

Seattle- here's the classroom limits from the current contract (p.81), posted on the SEA website:

Article IX, Section D
2. However, the SPS will maintain the following SPS-wide averages and building ranges:
a. Maintain an average SPS ratio of students to full-time equivalent teachers at no more
than 26:1 for grades K-3, 28:1 for grades 4-5, and 150:1 for grades 6-12 (when grade 6
is conducted using a secondary model), exclusive of Special Education and Bilingual.
b. Elementary Class Size Building Ranges: The SPS will take actions to limit class size to a
building range of 28 or less for grades K-3 and of 32 or less for grades 4-5; the same
building ranges shall apply to self-contained programs except Special Education and
Bilingual. In the event that the maximum number in either range is exceeded in a
building, the SPS shall provide relief in the form of additional certificated non-supervisory
staff.

Central Mom said...

The story of Seattle's contract negotiations has now gone national via a teacher's account of the process on The Daily Kos. The story has garnered hundreds of comments from a variety of viewpoints.

As would be expectedthe entry skewers MGJ's tactics as well as her overall ideology.

That's a whole lot of negative, national exposure about our District leadership (and, in the comment section, the Board that extended her contract.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Central Mom, thanks for the good posts. I think I'll make the Daily Kos one its own thread. It's interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

Mel,

A Level 1 school is one that has not met academic progress for several years. The one metric I know of is AYP. There may be metrics I'm not aware of. According to statements by Glen Bafia at the BA meeting Wed night, there are 17 such schools, of which, my school, Van Asselt, is one.
ken berry