No progress –frustration level growing higher and higher

After two days of bargaining so far this week, SKEA Bargaining Team members report that there is no progress. Though there is an additional $6.7 million available to address our class size issue, our team continues to hear “our hands are tied” from the other team.

Bargaining has gone from frustrating and annoying to simply ridiculous.

Some of the recently rejected proposals include: Probation procedures, plan of improvement, support for struggling educators, and non-renewal language. What is their answer? They want to staple the RCW and WAC to the back of the contract. This is becoming outlandish.

Regardless of how many conversations we have, laying out the fact that new monies have given the district the opportunity to take recommendations from their own fiscal consultant AND protect our students from large class sizes, the team continues to say their hands are tied.  What is the problem?

We believe that our new superintendent is definitely NOT the problem. Supt. Michelle Reid seems to be working very hard to come to a reasonable and workable solution. We believe her hands are also tied. Why? Let’s look at evaluation as an example.

Michelle Reid agreed to the bulk of the Port Angeles Education Association’s evaluation language several weeks ago when they were bargaining with Reid at the helm. It is obvious that she would agree to the same ask here, but instead, the district team has rejected the bulk of our very similar proposal here, including a ban on secret surveillance, refusal to allow union representation at conferences, statements about state-established scoring and student growth bands, observation of black-out dates (such as the day before a break, etc.), 48-hour notification of materials uploaded to eVAL, and more.

Electronic monitoring? Really? This is an SKEA proposal rejected by the district today.

“Electronic Monitoring:  All observations shall be conducted openly. Mechanical or electronic devices shall not be used to listen to or record the procedures of any class without the prior knowledge and consent of the teacher.”

The South Kitsap School Board wants to fulfill their fiduciary duty to be responsible. That is understood. We wholeheartedly agree that it is important to keep our district financially sound. But all anyone has to do is to look at the numbers. The additional $6.7 million coming in from state and levy and levy equalization pots will allow us to make sure students have adequate class sizes while continuing to build up the district’s fund balance.

The bottleneck is that the district’s bargaining team is not being given enough latitude to bargain. Time is running out. Last spring, our membership voted to meet Aug. 26 to listen to a report from the bargaining team and their recommendation, listen to a recommendation from our SKEA Executive Board, and discuss what we’ve heard then vote to ratify a contract or go on strike. The clock is ticking. While we have sessions scheduled for next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (Aug. 21-23), the bargaining team is ready, willing and able to bargain this weekend, Monday and Tuesday. Our team continues bargaining today (see photos below). SKEA members will be receiving e-mails at home with updates and with ways to show your solidarity next week. Plan on attending the Aug. 21 board meeting and the Aug. 26 SKEA General Membership meeting.

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