As we head into the third weekend of the school year, as SKEA president, I can say that it has been a most difficult time. We fought hard to keep class sizes where they were last year or to lower them and while we were able to achieve this at the bargaining table, putting it into practice has been more than a challenge.
When I visit our schools, our members are sharing their frustrations and illustrating with story after story about changing schedules, changing positions and, mostly, a feeling of disarray and uncertainty. This impacts our students and when our students are negatively impacted, our teachers and other educators are distressed.
I am working night and day to try help mitigate the upheaval. Some of this was expected but nowhere near what I am hearing. I want to thank our members for their patience with the little bumps and the big bumps. And I want to thank our students for hanging in there as things are continuously changing around them. Parents and other guardians, if your students seem frustrated or stressed by all of this, know that we share their frustration. We are here to teach them and to get on with what needs doing.
A friend once told me that we have to keep our perspective and that there are all kinds of lumps — lumps in our oatmeal, lumps in our throat and lumps in our prostrate. These three weeks definitely reach the lump in my throat level. I am sad and exasperated we are still waiting for the dust to settle. But I also know that together we will make it through feeling so discombobulated. We will bond with our students and be stronger for muddling through together.
My focus is to make sure we have a strong voice in Olympia backing smaller class sizes in the future. I am asking members to volunteer some time Sept. 28 to doorbell for a candidate who I believe is a strong advocate for our students. If you would like to join us in knocking on doors and talking with our community members about why we support Nathan Schlicher for state senate or if you want to know more about why our local WEA Political Action Committee is supporting him, feel free to contact me through the blog or via my email, email@example.com. Keep in touch.
This is the press release we just sent out:
Contact: Judy Arbogast, (253) 225-1977 (cell), (360) 871-4149 (office)
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
South Kitsap Education Association members ratify three-year contract
South Kitsap Education Association members voted overwhelmingly today to ratify a three-year contract with the South Kitsap School District. Ninety-six percent of the 407 members attending the ratification meeting at South Kitsap High School voted yes.
“We are pleased to be getting back into our classrooms and excited to see our students tomorrow,” SKEA President John Richardson says. “Our members are pleased to be making progress toward lower class sizes and we are happy we’re moving forward on eliminating split classes.”
SKEA members voted to go on strike last week after seeing no movement from the school board on class sizes.
Some of the highlights of the new contract include:
- Secondary academic class sizes will be reduced from the previous contract levels by two students this semester and by one more student the second semester of this school year. In 2015-16, academic secondary class sizes will be reduced by one more student.
- Elementary split classes (where students from two different grade levels are placed in one classroom) will be reduced over the next three years. The major focus is to eliminate grade 4/5 and 5/6 splits this year. During the second year of the contract, 2/3 and 3/4 splits will be added. During the third year of the contract, the district will concentrate on eliminating 1/2 splits.
- Elementary school class sizes will also go be lowered by one in 2014-15.
“We’re very proud of the high quality education our students deserve and receive here in our community. We are looking forward to working with our new superintendent, Michelle Reid, and appreciate her participation in helping us reach a resolution.”
Remember our General Membership Meeting tomorrow, Sept. 3 at 9 a.m. at South Kitsap High School. We will hear from recommendations from the SKEA Executive Board and the Bargaining Support Team, go over our tentative agreement and vote on whether or not to ratify the contract. This is a “members only” meeting. Children of members are welcome.
Our Executive Board and Bargaining Team and Bargaining Support Team members meet today (Labor Day) to go over the tentative agreement so we can make recommendations tomorrow.
This is what we sent out this evening:
PRESS ADVISORY Contact: Judy Arbogast, (253) 225-1977 (cell), (360) 871-4149 (office) firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
SOUTH KITSAP TEACHERS HAVE TENTATIVE AGREEMENT
SKEA negotiators report that they have reached a tentative agreement with the district. Members will meet Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 9 a.m. at South Kitsap High School to hear from the negotiating team and to vote on whether or not to agree to the contract. “We are happy to finally have a tentative agreement that makes real progress toward smaller class sizes,” SKEA President John Richardson says. “We thank the community for their support and look forward to our meeting on Tuesday.”
SKEA members have received massive support from parents at open houses this week and from businesses around the area. We appreciate this message from our local Family Pancake House here in Port Orchard.
As bargaining continues, SKEA members are taking precautions by clearing possessions out of the schools. Manchester Elementary teachers are heading out the door.
Both teams are bargaining. Meanwhile, Sunnyslope SKEA members were interviewed while exiting their school with their personal belongings. They also dropped lunch off for the SKEA bargaining team. Check the photo below to see South Colby members exiting with their possessions. Members will be in schools preparing until the contract runs out at the end of this month.