Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RIS Committee

I attended a meeting this morning that is looking at how to handle RIS and transfers under the new policy necessitated by the change in the law stating districts cannot use "last-hired, first-fired" practices.  The new negotiated language allows RIS decisions to be based on school or program need and evaluations.  The RIS and transfer processes will look different in spring 2012, and this committee will be making recommendations on what that process will be.

Bennington, VT Teachers Need Our Help

The following message is from Vermont Education Association about a strike in one of their local associations.  Help as you see fit.

"As you may have heard, the Southwestern Vermont Education Association (Bennington) is on strike to protest the worst imposed terms and conditions of employment for teachers in Vermont history.  More information is below, but the bottom line is this:  the local affiliate needs our support.

"You can donate on-line to the SWVEA Strike Help Fund, by going to or send a check made payable to “Southwestern Vermont Education Association” and mail to SWVEA, P.O. Box 4762, Bennington, Vermont 05201

"In June 2011, all of the 6 school boards within the supervisory union voted to impose very punitive working conditions on teachers after essentially ignoring the fact finders' report earlier that month. Later the school boards returned to offer a "final proposal" that spread the terms of the imposition out over what would be a four -year contract. The imposition/final offer included radical changes to their salary schedule, a REDUCTION in the base wage over the course of  the four years, increases in workday assignments that would lessen  teacher prep time – to force even more prep work into non-school hours,  and a 33% increase in teachers' co-pay for health insurance. There was more to the imposition/final offer, but needless to say, the SWVEA membership voted overwhelmingly to reject these terms in mid-September.

"The boards and union met on Wednesday, October 5, but the boards refused to bargain unless the union agreed to not speak to the press, not take any action, and bargain only in public. The union rejected these unacceptable terms. One week ago, SVWEA members voted 209 to 12 to  authorize a strike on October 19 if a fair contract was not reached. An agreement was not reached and on October 19 the teachers went out on strike and have been on strike since then. They continue to be on strike today. Both sides have met virtually every day and are meeting again today.

"We need support in the meantime. Please ask your fellow union members to send messages of support to the President and Vice President. They have had a tough few weeks and need to rally their members to stick together. They are sharing all messages of support with the members and it is  helping. Please send more! Stephannie Peters, President,  and Deb Berard, Vice President,"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

UEA's Excellence in Teaching Award Winner

Congratulations to Debbie Brown, Bingham, on being selected one of the UEA Excellence in Teaching Award Winners! 

Calendar Development

At the School Board Study Session on Tuesday, Sherry Devenberg presented a proposed calendar which includes a 3-day Thanksgiving Break for traditional and year round schedules.  The School Board is open to this as well as a possibility of a week-long Spring Break for traditional.  The Calendar Committee will continue to work on options to present to the School Board for their approval.


The JEA Political Action Committee met on Tuesday.  We have a great opportunity to add two new, education-friendly legislators to the Utah House of Representatives.  Carl Wimmer has decided to run for Congress.  That opens up his seat, which has included Herriman and Riverton.  Because of the growth in this area of the state, Herriman and Riverton will each have their own representative.  If you live in the Herriman or Riverton area, please think about friends and neighbors (or yourself) who have expressed interest in politics and education.  Send me contact information.  We need to recruit great candidates who are going to support public education.

In addition, four Jordan School Board terms are expiring:  Rick Bojak, Leah Voorhies, Carmen, Freeman, and Richard Osborn.  I have not heard definitively if any of them are going to run for re-election. 

Project 100 Winner

Congratulations to Sharon Rettie, Daybreak, for being the Jordan Credit Union Project 100 Employee of the Week!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Senator Osmond's Proposal

I received an e-mail today that Senator Aaron Osmond has decided to drop his proposal about Independent Public Schools, which would have essentially turned public schools into charter schools.  The following is an excerpt of that letter.

"After countless meetings with Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Associations, Legislative Colleagues, and other groups, I have made the decision to pull back on my proposal relative to the concept of Independent Public Schools and Local Control Reform for school boards.

"I did this because I made a commitment to my constituents in District 10 that I would not pursue or support any legislation that did not have the collective majority support of those constituents. I was unable to garner any significant interest or support from our local area around these ideas. Instead, the ideas generated more concern and anxiety (from all parties) that such changes would introduce additional layers of bureaucracy, create additional political strife within local communities, and put incremental strain on an already stressed system."

I publicly commend Senator Osmond for being willing to back down from an idea about which he was passionate in order to represent his constituents.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Meeting with Dr. Johnson

I met with Dr. Johnson on Friday afternoon.  I showed her a draft of a RIF points rubric.  This could be used in place of hire date in the event of a RIF.  It would help take the subjectivity out of RIF.  Hopefully, something similar will be adopted by the District.

Dr. Johnson believes performance pay will pass at the legislature this year.  She wants to put a work group together to make rubrics for performance pay.  This will likely happen after the first of the year.  She mentioned that she thinks performance pay should be on top of steps and lanes.  I am going to find information for her on the schools that were part of the performance pay pilot sponsored by the legislature three years ago (a two year pilot that was only funded for one year).  UEA was involved in helping develop some of the performance pay models used.

She shared some information about a meeting with Senator Aaron Osmond on his proposal about Independent Public School Boards, which would essentially make each school a charter school.  Dr. Johnson stated that the teachers and principals who attended the meeting asked good questions and made good points about why his proposal would not work.

Dr. Johnson also met with Representative Merlynn Newbold.  I am pleased that she is talking to the legislators serving the areas within Jordan District.  She is well-spoken and logical, and I hope the legislators take what she says to heart.

Negotiated Joint Committee

This committee has been looking at options for high school parent teacher conferences for almost a year.  Next month, we hope to decide on a model to pilot next year. 

We also discussed interest-based bargaining and Senator Osmond's proposals.

Executive Board Meeting

Wednesday evening was the monthly JEA Executive Board meeting.  We held an extensive discussion on the budget.  The Executive Board will be looking at possible ways to cut local dues.  All UEA members will be moving to EFT to start in Fall 2012 on a 10 deduction payment plan.  The monthly amount of dues will be higher, but for fewer months.  JEA went to 12 months for dues deduction a couple of years ago.  The reason UEA is going to 10 month deduction is because NEA requires states make payments to NEA on a 10 month plan.

There will be more information coming in November.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Columbia School Visit

Cindy and I enjoyed meeting with teachers at Columbia today during lunch.  They seem to be an informed group of teachers who asked great questions about retirement, merit pay, the Ogden situation, and negotiations just to name a few.  They also have interns and student teachers who were interested and eager to learn more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lunch with Local Presidents

Today I went to lunch with some other local association presidents.  We discussed our roles, budgets, vice president duties, how we organize and run meetings, EFT, and that we have great UniServ Directors (Laura and Cindy).  Hopefully, more local presidents will be able to join us next month.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lily's Thank You

When Lily Eskelsen's husband passed away in March, JEA donated money to their scholarship fund at the University of Utah.  I just received a hand-written thank you from Lily.  It states:

Dear Jennifer and JEA Family,
Please forgive me for taking so long to write and think you for honoring Ruel with your generous gift to our scholarship fund.  My boys and I are so grateful for your kindness.
Mui gracias,

See this post and this one for more information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sick Bank

This morning was the monthly Sick Bank meeting.  We reviewed and approved Sick Bank and Critical Family Illness and Adoption Leave requests.  If you need help applying for Sick Bank or Critical Family Leave, please let me know.  I would be happy to assist you.