GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING is Monday, August 26th. 4:30 PM at the SKHS Auditorium. Sign in begins at 3:45. This is a “member only” meeting. Children of members okay. TA’s will be sent to you this afternoon by home e-mails so you will have ample time to read and process. Read on for details.
- The SKEA team bargained until 1:30 this morning, went home to get a few hours of sleep and came back at the bargaining table at 8:30 this morning. After another marathon 10.5 hour day of bargaining yesterday with mediators shuttling between the district and association teams, there has still been no proposal by the district/school board on class size relief.
- Many of you are emailing and calling saying your September 4 class lists are already at or above the maximum class size. Some of you are saying you don’t have enough space or desks to put that many students in your classrooms. Some of you are wondering if the district will be able to sign off on putting desks closer than 32 inches apart since that is what is required by guidelines.
- Several of you have pointed out that this coming week’s district/building plans for professional development are focused on the new Common Core standards and assessments which they expect you to implement in overcrowded classrooms.
- Some of you asked how the district can claim they have a Whole Child approach to learning with some of the largest class sizes in the state. We hear you and we’ve been saying all of that at the bargaining table. As of 1:30AM this morning, we can tell you they’re listening, but not offering a solution.
At 3PM today the Bargaining Team, Bargaining Support Team and Executive Board are meeting to get updated and to deliberate on ratification recommendations for the General Membership Meeting. Later today, you will be receiving an electronic copy of all tentative agreements to date. Known as T.A.s, these are the bargaining issues and language the District and Association have tentatively signed but still need to be voted on at an Association General Membership meeting.
Some of you may be reading an editorial in this morning’s Kitsap Sun saying that teachers are looking for smaller class sizes. We know editorials are just opinions, but it would make more sense if they clarified what we mean by smaller class sizes. We are asking for class sizes that honor the current contract language.
Sure, we would love to have much smaller class sizes. We would welcome the opportunity to have similar class sizes to our colleagues in districts around us – for example, one of our board members is an eighth grade science teacher at a middle school in Peninsula. We checked his class sizes last week and he had 23 in his third period class. He has fewer than 30 in two of his other classes. If he taught with us here in our district, he’d be looking at classes of 33 and way up throughout his whole day.
One of our bargaining team members, a secondary math teacher, is currently slated to have two classes with 37 students in them which far exceeds the number of desks and space he has in his classroom. Thirty-seven junior high students in a math class – does that make sense?
One thing the editorial clearly has correct is that the sticking point is class size. It says class size isn’t what determines success or failure of students – good teachers are. We fully agree that having good teachers is the number one determinant of student success. However, good teachers – the good teachers who have been part of this community for years — say they cannot do their job when they have more students than there is space in their classrooms.
Good teachers want to give students the individual attention they deserve. Good teachers know that students will fail if they fall through the cracks. Having 38 or 40 students in a junior high class is unacceptable. High school students who are preparing for their next step after graduation deserve teachers who have time to teach and to write letters of recommendation and having split classes at elementary schools will become impossible to teach as new Common Core standards begin to be implemented.
We talked with thousands of parents a week ago and found that, and this is no surprise, they want their students to be in classrooms that are safe and conducive for learning. Stay tuned.