Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Part Time Math Opportunity

Better Lesson is in the process of soliciting applications for their Master Teacher Project.  In this project selected teachers will design and share full Math Common Core aligned courses in collaboration with Common Core coaches and fellow Master Teachers. You can view the flyer or go directly to the application page here. 

The expectation is 10 hours a week creating CCSS aligned lessons for the next two years, sharing those lessons online, and earning $30,000. 

If any of you choose to apply, please let me know, and good luck! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Oquirrh Hills Visit

I spent lunch yesterday with the teachers at Oquirrh Hills Middle School.  Overall, they are very supportive of JEA and willing to share their opinions and concerns.  I enjoyed meeting the teachers who came to the faculty room for lunch.  I hope I was able to answer questions and help them see the need to be informed as the legislature convenes in January.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

NCUEA Conference

I spent last Wednesday through Saturday at the Nation Council of Urban Education Associations conference.  It was all about organizing.  There was a lot of good information and ways to organize our members for relationship building and around issues.  The key is still the one-on-one conversation and getting to know our members.  Some questions that I think need to be asked to help us include:
  • What is your professional passion?
  • What is the most pressing education issue in Jordan District?
  • Who do you see as a professional teacher-leader in your building?
  • Why did you join JEA?
  • Why do you stay a member of JEA?
  • What would JEA look like or be doing that would cause you or others to join?
I would like to hear your thoughts on these questions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Council of Local Presidents

We had a presentation on UEN and the services they provide.  You can follow them in several places.  UEN website, UEN Channel on YouTube, UEN Professional Development on Twitter, UEN Professional Development Facebook Page, and through twice weekly (Monday and Thursday) text updates by texting UEN to 91011 to subscribe.

New UEA Membership cards are being mailed to your homes on Monday, November 19. Please watch for your card within the next week. When you login at to activate your card, you will be asked to create a password for your account. The new Access discounts website will be easier to search. You will be able to purchase some items from that website and have them sent directly to you.

UEA is looking for additional minorities to run for NEA-RA Delegate-At-Large and NEA-RA Successor Delegate-At-Large.  Both are three year terms where you attend the NEA Representative Assembly for three years from approximately June 28 to July 6. The next 3 NEA-RA's will be held in Atlanta (2013), Denver (2014) and Miami Beach (2015).  All expenses are paid for you to attend and represent Utah at the annual business meeting to direct NEA.  Please let me know if you are minority and interested in running, and I will assist you with filing a declaration of candidacy.  The deadline is Thursday, January 10, 2013.

Senate Bill 64 evaluation pilot is happening this year in a handful of schools.  The initial version of the bill outlined in this post ended in the much improved SB 64, which was supported and collaborated on by UEA.

Only 30% of subjects/grades in Utah are tested.  Difficult to measure student growth for evaluation purpose.  Student Learning Objectives (SLO) are going to be used to look at growth in non-tested subjects/grades, and possibly some that are tested would be optional.  Looking at teachers setting goals/learning objectives with administrators that shows learning outcomes by students.  Many teachers do this in an informal way already.  You would do this for a limited number of students (2-4).  Tested subjects/grades are going to use Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) in relationship to their academic peers.  SGP's would look at what we expect a student to do when compared to other students like them.   Even in tested subjects, teachers may want to use SLO's, because it gives an additional line of evidence in a teacher evaluation.  This is scheduled to be implemented in the 2014-2015 year.

In 2008, 47 members voted by mail.  In 2012, 2214 members voted by mail.  This is a great success!  It helps people who often haven't voted regularly in the past.  Please be prepared this coming legislative session to contact your representatives to tell your stories.  Public education is not a partisan issue.  We build relationships with those who were elected no matter the party to do what is best for public education.  Statewide, we were able to move the majority of elected officials more to the center.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Legislative Supply Money

The final amount for Legislative Supply Money is as follows:

Elementary - Step 1-3:  $250 full time, Step 4+:  $165 full time
Secondary - Step 1-3:  $200 full time, Step 4+:  $145 full time

You can turn in receipts to be reimbursed for the full amount after Thanksgiving break.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


There has been an issue with having enough substitutes.  This was brought up in District Advisory Committee (DAC) as well as by administrators at their meeting.

In the past, the District has only accepted applications for substitutes twice a year, followed by interviews and a training class.  In October, there were 350 substitute applications received.  The training is now offered online.  Once new applicants are approved, they can take the online training whenever they would like, submit the paperwork required to prove they did the training, and be fingerprinted.  Then they are ready to sub.  This could happen as quickly as a week if the substitute is motivated to finish.  Now the District will accept substitute applications at any time, not just twice a year.

Part of the lack of substitutes has to do with them now being paid hourly instead of half-day or full-day.  The District website still shows half-day and full-day rates, not hourly rates, which may cause confusion for substitutes.

From June LeMaster, Human Resources Director:
-The substitute teacher pay has also changed in that subs are paid hourly and not by half days or full days.  They are used to arriving late and leaving early and expecting to be paid the full day.  As subs are paid with taxpayer money, we are holding them accountable and paying them only for time worked. 
-Principals have always maintained the authority to have a substitute work a full day even when students are not at school, as long there is work for the substitute to do.
-We realize some subs are disgruntled with the changes, specifically for being paid only for the hours they work; however, we believe we are being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. The money saved will be diverted to other District needs.

Secretaries are being asked to "babysit" substitutes and have them working with students all day, including covering other classes during the one teacher's prep if a sub is unavailable at the secondary level.

There was a concern mentioned that secondary teachers feel that not subbing on their prep period when a substitute has not arrived may be held against them in the future.  This should not be happening.  Teachers should not feel guilty for not covering a class during their prep period.

If you are having problems with not enough substitutes or complaints about the pay of substitutes, please let me know.  This issue may need to return to DAC.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jordan Education Foundation Mini Grants

I attended the Jordan Education Foundation Board meeting this morning.  $76,000 will be awarded to teachers through the Mini Grant program.  Of the 129 applications received, 112 will be funded helping 168 teachers impact 17,000 students!  Awards will be presented by members of the Foundation Board over the next couple of weeks.

Congratulations to all JEA members who will receive a grant!

Election Results

I'm sure you are all aware of the results of the headline races like president, governor, and U.S. representatives.  In Utah Legislative races in the Jordan District area, the following won:
  • Senate District 6:  Wayne Harper
  • Senate District 10: Aaron Osmond
  • House District 42: Jim Bird
  • House District 43:  Earl Tanner
  • House Distict 47: Ken Ivory
  • House District 50:  Rich Cunningham
  • House District 52:  John Knotwell
The results for members of the Jordan District Board of Education are:
  • Precinct 1: J. Lynn Crane
  • Precinct 4: Kayleen Whitelock
  • Precinct 5: Richard Osborn
  • Precinct 6: Janice Voorhies

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Meeting with Superintendent Johnson

I had my monthly meeting with Dr. Johnson this morning.  We discussed legislative priorities and the placement of support class students for tracking test scores. 

We then had a good discussion about evaluation, pay, collaboration, and improving teacher practice.  Looking at various levels of teacher skill development and working on specific teaching skills is needed.  Dr. Johnson mentioned interest in "career based pay" which would include teachers with expanded roles like coach or mentor.  Having peers work with struggling teachers would be a huge shift.  Again, all of this is just discussion right now. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Steps and Lanes/EFT

If you are receiving a step and/or a lane increase, that will be reflected on your October paycheck!  Remember that the October paycheck will be larger than normal due to retro pay increases for this year (September increase for traditional, August and September increases for year round). 

 Please check Skyward to verify your step and/or lane change has been reflected.  Login to Employee Access, click Employee Information, click Personal Information, in the left pane click Lane/Step History.  This will show you what lane and step you were on in 2010 and 2012.  If something is not correct, contact HR at 801-567-8150.  You will want to look at your pay stub in Skyward as well.  You can do that from the same page, only in the left pane click Checks.

Looking forward to payday, thanks to the JEA Negotiations Team!

If you are still on payroll deduction for dues, I encourage you to make the flip to EFT.  You can do so at with your member number.  Your building AR has your member number, or you can contact me to look that up for you if you cannot find your membership card.  New membership cards should be arriving at your home by mail in the next two weeks.

Reminder to those of you who have already flipped to EFT or credit card, that the next withdraw or charge will be November 3.  Please verify you have enough money in your account.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Meet the Candidates Follow Up

The PTA Meet the Candidates Night was fairly successful.  Most of the JEA recommended candidates were in attendance. I saw several JEA members there and appreciate their efforts to be informed voters.

I spent a bit of time talking to the two candidates for State School Board.  One of them encouraged me to go look at his answers to the questionnaires.  I am attaching links here to both of their questionnaires.  If you live in another school district, you can go to United Way and find your State School Board candidate responses.

For most of Jordan District, the candidates are Jefferson Moss and Sergio Vasquez.  Click on their names to read their questionnaires.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Legislative Council (AR) Meeting

We had a great AR meeting last night!  I appreciate all of the AR's who attended and stayed throughout the meeting.  UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh came to talk about the UEA Convention and Education Exposition next week. 

Debbie Atwood at Falcon Ridge, Christy Baker at West Jordan High, and Paul Noble at Copper Hills were voted to be on the Joint Educator Evaluation Committee (JEEC).  They will join Marilyn Kurt from Joel P. Jensen who still has time left on her term.

Watch for the Red Flags information from your AR.  Read through that information so you know how to handle a situation that may arise.  Also, your AR may talk to you about the JEA Death Benefit.  When an active member who is part of the Death Benefit program passes away, all JEA members who are enrolled in Death Benefit have $4 donated at the time of their dues payment that goes to the family of our JEA colleague who has passed. 

Remember to check out the recommended candidates at this blog post.

We reveiwed the UEA "Don't De'lei', Recruit Today" campaign.  See for more information.  Dawn Opie at Foothills won the membership drawing.

Upcoming events include:
  • UEA Convention, see for more information.
  • Costco event, Saturday, December 8 from 8:30 - 9:30 at the Murray Costco
  • "Hobbit" movie event on Friday, December 14 at The District

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

School Visits

I had to opportunity to meet with teachers at Monte Vista and Fox Hollow last week.  They have concerns many of you share about steps and lanes, insurance, and morale.  There are so many great teachers we want to remain in Jordan District.  I thank the AR's at those buildings for inviting me out and the teachers I was able to meet. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

JEA/UEA/NEA Recommended Candidates

The Political Action Committee at all levels of the Association have made recommendations for the 2012 elections.  Please remember that all recommendations are made based on one issue:  public education.  You have the responsibility to learn about the candidates and the right to vote for the person you feel best represents you.  Remember to vote!  In the last general election, only 50% of UEA members voted.  With 18,000 members, we can cause candidates to win races if we all vote.

President/Vice President of the United States:  Barack Obama/Joe Biden

UEA (to see a full list of recommendations from around the state go to PAC page)
US Senate:  Scott Howell
US Congressional District 2:  Jay Seegmiller
US Congressional District 4:  Jim Matheson
Governor/Lt. Governor of Utah:  Gary Herbert/Greg Bell
Attorney General of Utah:  Dee Smith

Senate District 6:  John Rendell
Senate District 10:  Aaron Osmond
House District 42:  Jim Bird
House District 43:  Jeff Bell
House Distict 47:  Joe Huey
House District 50:  Billie Gay Larsen
House District 52:  Dan Paget
Jordan School Board Precinct 1:  J. Lynn Crane

PTA is hosting a Meet the Candidates night on Thursday, October 11 from 6:30 - 8:30 at Elk Ridge Middle.  Go to their blog to view the list of candidates planning to attend.  Be an informed voter!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

UEA/Arch Coal Foundation Excellence in Teaching Awards

Congratulations to Donna Hunter at Herriman High, and Jill Krogue at Columbia Elementary for being chosen to receive the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award sponsored by UEA and the Arch Coal Foundation!  These great teachers will be honored at a banquet in conjunction with the UEA Convention and receive $1500.  JEA is the only association in the state to have two winners this year.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012-14 Licensed Contract Settlement

The following is a chart about the email sent by the District yesterday.

From the start of negotiations on May 1, the Board offered its best contract terms, which were essentially what the JEA negotiations team accepted on September 13. 
The part of the final agreement that was not in the original offer was JEA’s ability to continue to negotiate policies that impact salary, benefits and working conditions.
Under the new contract, licensed staff will receive an increase in compensation over two years.  The agreement includes steps and lanes the first year, with the contingency of further increases if legislative monies are made available the second year.
The language in the agreement around the second year is “unless the Legislature commits new and unencumbered funds specifically directed to teacher salaries and benefits”.
The Board did not propose altering these policies as part of their original contract offer to the JEA.
The original offer explicitly excluded current negotiated policies affecting salary, benefits and working conditions and JEA’s ability to negotiate changes in the future.
Contract Negotiation Timeline
  • May 1—Contract negotiations began.
  • June 22—After five meetings, the JEA declared an impasse.
  • Aug. 24—Federal mediation began at the request of the JEA.
  • Aug. 21—The Board settled contract negotiations with the Jordan Employee School Professional Association (Classified Employees).
  • Sept. 13—The Board and the JEA reached a tentative agreement after meetings and communications with the federal mediator.
  • Sept. 24—The Jordan Education Association ratified the agreement.
  • Sept. 25—The JSD Board of Education ratified the agreement at their regular board meeting.
Contract Negotiation Timeline
  • February 2—Interest-based Bargaining (IBB) Training with the District Team, JEA Team and leadership from both groups facilitated by a federal mediator.
  • April 19—Initial meeting where the District told JEA that IBB would not be used and their team would be led by a third party “broker”/attorney.
  • May 1—Contract negotiations began.
  • June 22—After five meetings (maximum of six meetings allowed as set forth in policy A6 Negotiations), the JEA formally declared an impasse as provided in policy A6 Negotiations.  Also in A6 Negotiations is the following statement:  Immediately after declaration of impasse by either party, the Board will invite the employee agent group to participate in mediation using the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.”
  • Aug. 24—Federal mediation began at the invitation of the Board.
  • Sept. 11—The Board and the JEA reached a tentative agreement after one mediation session and multiple telephone and email communications with the federal mediator.
  • Sept. 24—Members of the Jordan Education Association ratified the agreement.
  • Sept. 25—The JSD Board of Education ratified the agreement at their regular board meeting.
Both sides employed the services of an outside professional to reach this settlement. 
Jordan UniServ Director Cindy Carroll has job responsibilities which include negotiations consultation and support in addition to advocacy, representation, and membership.
For many years, only the JEA used a non-district employee for their negotiations. 
JEA members are represented at negotiations by JEA members.  In addition to three classroom teachers, JEA has always had a UniServ Director on the Negotiations Team.  UniServ Directors pay dues and are members of JEA. 
This is the Board’s first year using an outside professional.
JEA is disappointed the District chose to have a contracted attorney as their lead negotiator.
The Jordan School District Board of Education looks forward to working collaboratively with all staff as together we continue to provide exceptional learning experiences for all of our students.
JEA hopes “working collaboratively” means the District will return to their past practice of sending District employees who are invested in collaborating with educators for the success of teachers and students to negotiations in the future.

UEA President's Message

UEA President's video message for September is now on YouTube. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ogden/Weber UniServ Director

The Ogden Weber UniServ is pleased to  announce Matt Ogle as our  new UniServ Director. Mr. Ogle comes to us from the Salem, Oregon area. He has been involved with the Association and as a teacher for 15 years, serving in many positions. He has also been through the NEA training for future UniServ Directors. Mr. Ogle will join us officially October 22, 2012. He is the father of two daughters. He assures us that his family is excited for the new experience, his daughters are excited to see the Dinosaur Park.

School Board Meeting

My comments about the negotiated agreement to the School Board at last night's meeting are below. 

President Bojak, members of the Board, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Jolley, the membership of JEA has voted to ratify this contract and I encourage you to vote for it as well.  While the negotiations process has been long and difficult, teachers are grateful for steps and lanes this year and the ability to continue negotiating policies that impact our salary, benefits, and working conditions.
JEA appreciates the amendment to GP 115 in recognizing negotiated policies.  Thank you for making that change.
The majority of teachers in Jordan District want to do what is best for students.  They take classes on how best to implement the new Core.  They work with their team or department in PLCs, collaborating and helping each other know how best to work with students to show learning gains.  Collaboration is needed at every level of this District, including in classrooms, schools, departments, the Administration, the School Board, and between the Administration and JEA, and the Board and JEA.  JEA’s mission is a Great Public School For Every Child.  Jordan District’s mission is to “Provide excellent educational opportunities for all students and ensure quality teachers, administrators and support staff.”  You need us, the quality educators who work with students every day, to make this mission happen.  Let us work toward more effective collaboration in all that we do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Legislative Supply Money

I received a memo today that the first portion of the 2012-13 Legislative Supply Money will be available for reimbursement after Wednesday, September 26.  For now, full-time teachers have access to $100 while part-time teachers have access to $50.  Final amounts will not be determined until after the October 1 count and FTE reports are finalized.  I will let you know those amounts as soon as I know.

Educators not working directly with students are not eligible for the money.  This includes:
  • Accountability and Program Services specialists
  • ALS specialists
  • Applied Technology coordinators and specialists
  • BYU Partnership facilitators and CFA's
  • Compliance and Special Programs specialists
  • Curriculum and Staff Development specialists and consultants
  • Information Systems specialists
  • School Nurses
  • Special Education TAs and specialists
  • Students Intervention Services counselors and specialists

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Teacher Transfer Fair 2013

I attended a meeting to plan the Teacher Transfer Fair for Spring 2013.  You will NOT need a signed transfer form to attend!  The tentative dates are Monday, March 18 from 4-6 p.m. at West Jordan High for secondary and Monday, March 25 from 5-7 p.m. at Elk Ridge Middle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

UEA's "Don't De'lei' - Recruit Today" Campaign

All members are invited to participate in the "Don't De'lei' - Recruit Today" campaign.  For each member you recruit (write your name in the bottom right where the form says "Local Association Representative"), you will receive $20 from UEA, with checks mailed December 14.  If the person you recruit chooses to pay by EFT from a checking or savings account, you (the recruiter) will be entered to win a 6-day, 5- night Hawaiian vacation! See for more information.

This is a link to a JEA membership form.  Have new members complete both pages.  Make sure to write your name legibly under "Local Association Representative".  Send the forms to JEA through District mail, or call the office and we are happy to come pick up membership forms from you.  I would love to see a JEA member win the trip to Hawaii!

Member Appreciation Barbeque

You missed out if you did not attend the barbeque on Monday!  We combined with Granite and Canyons Education Association to provide hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, cookies, and drinks for our members and their families at Wheeler Farm.  The Cat in the Hat made an appearance for the kids.  Hope to see you next year!

Photo: Joint UniServ BBQ at Wheeler Farm.

General Membership Meeting - Negotiations

About 70 people attended the General Membership Meeting held last Friday.  Good questions were asked about the proposed agreement reached between JEA and Jordan District.  All JEA members are asked to reach out to school board members and district administration and share with them the great things that are happening in their classrooms in addition to the frustrations and challenges.  As you contact school board members, remain professional and work to build a relationship where they will recognize you as the expert in your classroom!

Photo: JEA General Membership meeting. Watch for email with details. Ballots in school on Monday.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Voices for Utah Children

I had the opportunity to sit at the UEA table at the Voices for Utah Children 2012 Children's Champions Awards luncheon. Those recognized were Mark Bouchard from Prosperity 2020, Senators Karen Morgan and Aaron Osmond, and KSL Anchor Nadine Wimmer.

One quote that stuck out was by Mark Bouchard. He said, "We must be willing to make sacrifices for the future of our children."

Another quote that was in the video presentation was, "If it's not good for children, it's not good for Utah."

Hedy Chang of Attendance Works was the keynote speaker. Her message was that we can advance student success by reducing chronic absence. She defined that as missing 10% of the school year, 180 days, or just 2 days a month, for any reason. She had data showing that chronic attendance problems in kindergarten impacts achievement in 5th grade. I found what she said very interesting and valuable.

 Mark Bouchard, Prosperity 2020
 Senator Karen Morgan
 Senator Aaron Osmond
 KSL Anchor Nadine Wimmer
Hedy Chang - Attendance Works

Saturday, September 8, 2012

UEA Convention and Education Exposition

I learned about what will be happening at the UEA Convention this year, and it sounds great!  The number of sponsors, exhibitors, and classes is much bigger than ever before.  If you have never attended the UEA Convention, this is the year to come!  It will be Thursday and Friday, October 18-19 at South Towne Expo Center. Plan to attend.  Highlights include:

8:00 - NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen and UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
12:30 - Meet the Candidates with Governor Herbert and other recommended candidates with a hot dog lunch for $5
2:30 - "Mitchell 20" movie screening and discussion
4:00 - Jazz Bear tip off on Book-a-Basket book giveaway for making a basket

8:00 - Harry and Rosemary Wong with book signing at 12:30
New Educator Workshops throughout the day

JEA members will receive a ticket for free health screenings and pampering. 

In the program that will be sent to you the end of September, you will receive tickets to give to parents and non-members, so they can attend for free.  Regular admission price is $5.  See UEA website for more detailed information.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Negotiations/Mediation Update

The following message is from Melissa Brown and Karl McKenzie, JEA Negotiations Team:


Our negotiations update on August 29 was to share news about the Jordan School Board’s decision to postpone taking action on a new District Policy (GP115) which would govern how current policy changes and new policies would be initiated in the future.  We also updated you on the mediation process.  On Friday, August 31 the Negotiations Team worked with Ms. Ritter, the federal mediator, via teleconference for several hours in order to come to an agreeable compromise.  Ms. Ritter took the compromise back to the District’s representative, Blake Ostler, and is scheduled to have another teleconference with him tomorrow.  We hope to find the District agreeable to our counter proposal.

Under current policy, A6 NEG:  Negotiations, the mediation process is allowed 45 days to be completed.  The District Team concluded mediation on August 31 at 8:00 p.m. when they were unable to continue without polling the Board.  Therefore, the JEA Negotiations Team sent a written request to the Jordan School Board for an extension of the mediation timeline to the end of September.  We received a reply on September 4 from Board President Rick Bojak, granting an extension to the mediation process until noon on September 11.  This was surprising because the success of this mediation is currently in the District’s hands. JEA has notified the federal mediator of this shortened timeline and continues to wait for a response from the Jordan School Board following our last mediation communication on Friday, August 24. 


We will update you as new information becomes available.  Thank you for your overwhelmingly supportive messages and for your continued membership.

Meeting with Dr. Johnson

I had my monthly meeting with Dr. Johnson yesterday.  We discussed maintaining the JEA Death Benefit, part-time high school teachers and their principals requiring them to attend PLC on days they are not contracted to teach, the Math and Language Arts Common Core, and items for the next Joint Committee meeting, which includes how to make negotiations better next year. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Secondary New Teacher Induction

We had a very successful Secondary New Teacher Induction today!  Probably 80-90 of the new teachers came to the park for lunch.  It is great to talk to them and hear their excitement as they start their teaching careers.  Please talk to all people new to your building and invite them to join the best teachers in the district as members of JEA!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Traditional Elementary New Teacher Induction

Thanks to those AR's who came to the park to help with NTI today! We were able to talk to a lot of new teachers and introduce them to the JEA. In addition, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh spoke to the new teachers. We'll be at it again tomorrow for secondary new teachers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jordan UniServ AR Training

We held a great AR training in conjunction with Canyons Education Association last night.  We had a good turn out! I was pleased with the engagement and questions coming from AR's who want to represent our members well. Our focus this year is on member engagement and recruitment through relational organizing. If you do not know who the AR in your building is, ask around, or contact me.

Thanks to all who attended!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Online Policy Review

As the Year Round teachers have already been told, everyone will be required to do an online policy review (similar to the one required by the state for re-licensure) entitled "Crucial Policy Review for Licensed Employees."  It is a "class" you will be registered for on JPLS.  There are six sections and a total of 42 questions.  You can do one section and save you answers to return to later.  The instructions indicate that the entire review should take about two hours.  This is in lieu of having a review done by your principal during the preparation days before school starts.  JEA brought this idea to negotiations in 2011, and the District has proceeded with our idea. 

I did the review and found it helpful to have a second browser window open to the policy (there is a link to each one within the review quiz) to make for easier reference.  I am quite familiar with Jordan District policies, and the entire review took me about 30 minutes.  I missed three questions.  You do not have the opportunity to redo your answers once you submit a section of the quiz.  All employees must complete the review by September 28.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jordan UniServ Joint Executive Board Retreat

We had a great training today with the Canyons Education Association Board.  We talked about the roles and duties of Board members, how to start building relationships with AR's at schools they are liaisons to, and doing some team building.  I appreciate the efforts of the Executive Board members today.  You have elected great people to lead our Association!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Affordable Care Act

The following was written by former JEA President Scott Berryessa based on his experiences.  I share this so you can see some of the benefits of the new Affordable Care Act.


All members of UEA and its affiliates are concerned with the rise of health insurance premiums and the ramifications of the Affordable HealthCare Act (ObamaCare.)  No doubt you have all heard many criticisms of this legislation as it has often been demonized and politicized, but I think our members deserve some facts that are separate from the partisan dialogue.

After serving on the Insurance Committee for ten years for Jordan School District and most recently for the last two years as the public education representative on the Board of Directors for P.E.H.P. (Public Employees Health Plans) and The Utah Retirement System, I have been a keen observer of the trends in health insurance.   I’d like to share some trends that you are not likely to hear in the media that you ought to consider.

Hopefully you are each aware of the positive aspects of the ACA as far as added coverage for children to age 26, covered wellness care, no more lifetime caps on coverage and the fact that soon no one can be denied coverage for  pre-existing conditions.   There are many more yet to come as they are implemented.    These are all welcome benefits that may help every one of us --eventually.  However, I’d like to share some data that you may not be aware of, but should consider and embrace.

Much of the criticism of “ObamaCare” that is being spread is that it does not do anything to contain or restrain the rising costs to cover these new benefits, let alone previous ones.  Opponents of the act claim the ACA is driving up the costs of health care. That is not true and here are some facts you need to know as you weigh the healthcare act:

In 2010-11 the initial parts of the act began to be phased in.   Keep in mind it will take a few more years before it is entirely implemented and that one of the biggest cost savings aspects, the insurance exchanges, will not be put into effect until 2014.

I hope you all will remember that in the 10 years prior to 2010, national healthcare expenses were rising year after year.  In Utah many of our school districts experienced double digit premium increases more often than not and this necessitated that employees had to pay more each year for their share of their health insurance and/or had to reduce important parts of your plans so they offered less.  For most of you, co-pays and deductibles were also increased to spread more costs to you.   As a member of the UEA Board and of my districts negotiations team during this time I know that my district and probably all of yours were forced to take less on the salary schedule to supplant additional insurance increases.  This erosion of potential earnings will cost us dearly in our retirement earnings.

Well, the good news is that nationally, insurance costs have dropped to less than 4 percent per year in the last two years and this is also reflected in Utah!!  This is attributed to the ACA and nationally has saved over $220 BILLION since 2010. Furthermore, healthcare costs are projected to stay level in the near future at least according to experts.

Between 2000 and 2009 the average family premium more than doubled at an annual increase of 8.1%, but in the two years since, premiums still rose-- but at a rate of 25% lower -- creating a savings of more than $1200 per family.  Some of the increase the last two years is credited to the fact that many insurance companies raised their premiums for profit taking before the part of the act took effect that demands that  now they MUST  justify any new  rate increase and prove it is necessary directly to improve patient care.  That is another cost saving part of the ACA you don’t hear about.  In fact, starting this month 13,000,000 Americans will be getting rebate checks back from their insurance companies if their company/provider did not meet the standard of proving, through audits, that they spent 80-85% of EVERY premium dollar for patient care directly.  The rebates will average about $138 each for a total of more than $1.1B that will be refunded this first year alone.  This part of the law insures cost efficiency from providers to meet that standard.  The largest companies and providers can only use 15% of every premium dollar for marketing, equipment, buildings, CEO compensation and shareholder dividends –(profit taking) etc.  Prior to the ACA the average spent on these things for most Insurance companies and providers was nearly 30% or more according to many studies.

The law will provide even more relief in years to come, including a tax cut averaging $4,000 for 18 million middle class Americans unless the Republican congress repeals the ACA.

Another falsehood being spread is that the law is putting a greater burden on small businesses. The facts show the opposite to be true.  Small business owners were struggling in the health insurance market long before the law passed, spending an average of 18% more than their larger competitors annually for employee coverage and often seeing their bills skyrocket if even a single employee got sick. The result of this was that many small companies dropped offering health insurance to their workers. This was not because of the ACA but the conditions that existed prior to 2020.

Since the law passed, the share of small businesses now offering coverage has held steady and will start to rise with the implementation of the insurance exchanges and, in part, due to new tax credits in the law and according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this will save hundreds of thousands of small companies thousands of dollars each on their insurance costs.  When small businesses and the self-employed have the choice of shopping for coverage in the new health marketplaces, created by the states that establish market options through the exchanges, this will be a boon to expand worker coverage according to the Rand Corp.

A third common attack recycled about the ACA is that it cuts Medicare benefits.  In truth, Medicare is stronger than ever now.

Thanks to the ACA (ObamaCare), seniors have new benefits such as free preventive care as well as discounts on brand name medications in the “doughnut hole” coverage gap and this has already saved more than 5 MILLION seniors almost $600 each!!  Plus, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen two years running.  New crackdowns on fraud abuse contained in the ACA have returned a record $5.4 BILLION to Medicare since 2010.  In fact aspects of the healthcare law have strengthened Medicare’s long term outlook, adding eight additional years to the projected solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund. These are all important facts especially to every educator that is concerned about the future costs of insurance eating away at their retirement and disposable incomes.

No matter what your political leanings are, insurance costs should matter to you and knowing the facts is critical.  People are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts. These facts and others that I didn’t mention make one thing clear: Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, national health spending and insurance premium rates are rising at a slower rate, health insurance coverage is becoming more available and affordable to more Americans, small business coverage is holding steady and soon will increase and Medicare is on a stronger financial footing.

The legislation is not perfect but there has been no other credible plan or cadre of ideas put forward so I’d hope we as citizens can unite together to push our Congress to work to improve upon what we have.

Scott Berryessa

Monday, July 16, 2012

Year Round New Teacher Induction

We hosted lunch at the West Jordan Veterans' Memorial Park for year round new teachers.  We had a good turn out, and several people join!  Thanks for the help of Executive Board members and ARs who attended.  Congratulations to Melanie Durfee, Eastlake, on winning the $25 gift card for those who became new JEA members today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

School Board Meeting

Thanks to all the JEA members who attended the School Board Meeting last night.  We had about 50 people there in blue shirts.  All who spoke to the Board were respectful and spoke from their hearts!  I was asked to post my comments.  If others who spoke have their comments to post here, please do so, or email them to me to add.  You can see general summary of comments on the JEA Facebook page.

President Bojak, members of the Board, Superintendent Johnson, and Mr. Jolley, I stand before you tonight to express the disappointment felt by members of the Jordan Education Association regarding the negotiations process chosen by the Board this year.  With the election of new school board members and the appointment of a new superintendent, employees throughout the District felt calm, happy, and hopeful that morale was turning around.  The JEA Negotiations Team was looking forward to collaboration that Interest-based Bargaining brings.  That hope was lost when JEA was informed that the Board chose to “broker” negotiations by sending an attorney to the bargaining table.  The attorney you chose is not respected by his colleagues and is not a friend of public education in general. 
            As a school board, you have embraced collaboration and encourage collaboration at all levels of the District; yet, sending a broker to negotiations prevented collaboration.  As a school board you are all in support of the Leader in Me program in the elementary schools; yet, sending a broker, a person who is not invested in the success of students in the District, made synergy used to reach a win-win situation impossible.  As a school board and administration, you tell teachers how valuable and important they are; yet, teachers do not see your actions matching your words.  If the end you had in mind was to improve educator morale, you have not succeeded.
            JEA members are very concerned over the language in your proposal that would take away our right to negotiate policies that impact educator benefits and working conditions, some of which have been negotiated since 1969.  Based on a Dan Jones Survey in 2011, the public is in favor of teachers having a say in their salary, benefits, and working conditions.  As the president of JEA, I share these concerns in the hope that mediation will proceed in a more collaborative manner.

Comments by Heather Reich
My name is Heather Reich.  I teach sixth graders at Majestic Elementary and I love my job.  The only things I don’t love about the “3 Rs” are the 3 Ps: Paperwork, Politics, and Pay.

Paperwork – I know you can’t do anything about that.  I am learning to manage this as I gain more experience and knowledge about my profession.

Politics – That’s you.  You’re elected officials.  You have to please your constituents.  Like me – I’m your constituent.  My students’ parents are your constituents.  We want you to support public education by fairly compensating teachers.  Students in Jordan District deserve the best teachers – highly qualified teachers – not just the most affordable ones.  New teachers are working in Jordan District for three years, benefitting from our Mentoring Program, earning career status and leaving.  That is not what’s best for our kids and our community.  Just as teachers will leave the district – your voters will leave you if you fail to invest in experienced and well-educated teachers.

Pay – You can help with this, too.  Jordan’s last offer to teachers was a two-year deal that would fund steps and lanes for one year and not the next.  This means that you have the money to fund steps and lanes – at least for a year.  This year.  Offer teachers a one-year deal.

Please participate in negotiations and do as twenty-two other districts have done and fund steps and lanes.  Let us know you care about students in your district as much as other districts care about theirs.  Invest in experienced teachers who increase their own education.  That’s what’s best for the kids of Jordan School District.

Comments by Glenda Adams

Dear Board,
I’ve come to speak to you today because I am so disappointed in your decision to stop open communication with your employees by bringing in a broker/lawyer to the talks about salary and policy decisions. How is this going to help build a trusting relationship with your employees? I believe it will tear apart what has been building over the last year.
My school has recently been training to implement the 7 habits of the leader in me within our school. This isn’t a new program but rather a new way to build lasting habits for life. These habits are to help our students and us to learn and practice daily tools/habits to put our best efforts first. It is to teach us how to build deep lasting, highly effective relationships with other people in our school/workplace and at home. Habits such as; Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood, to Think Win-Win and to Synergize by working together for better solutions.
Your actions to stop open collaborative talk with your employees are speaking louder than you words and do not show a highly effective relationships with us. This board along with our new superintendent started to make positive steps forward with their employees by meeting with us but I’m sad to say that now your actions will begin crumbling the foundation of our trust. No one will win, there will be no best efforts to build upon and working together for better solutions will not be decided collaboratively. 
Please reconsider your decision to communicate with employees solely through a lawyer/broker. Let’s come to the table to help all of us work together for better solutions. Let’s all win and be proud of our “new” “kinder” ‘better and effective’ district that we have been working on up until now.

Thank you, Glenda Adams

Comments from James Maughan
Board Members and Superintendent Johnson:

On June 25, teachers in the district received a statement via email describing the current impasse in negotiations.  I would like to respond to this statement.

It is true that the JEA rejected your litigating attorney’s tainted offer of lane increases.  The offer was rejected because teachers refuse to relinquish 30 plus years of negotiated policies that have improved working conditions for teachers and learning environments for students.  Your attorney’s goal, and I assume yours, since he is your representative, is to eliminate collective bargaining for teachers.  This is unacceptable.

The statement also mentions the unsolicited two percent bonus awarded to teachers last year.  In other words, the board secretly appropriated a $4 million benefit without consulting the professional teachers’ association.  This was done strategically.  Teachers were not bumped up on the salary schedule, thereby avoiding future financial obligations, and the board would appear generous to the public.

I would also like to clarify the phrase “a substantial salary increase.”  We teachers are not asking you to fund extravagant lifestyles.  We are simply asking you to honor the promises you made when you hired us; if we remained loyal to the district and provided a quality education for the students, we would be compensated accordingly.  You have failed.

Finally, the statement suggests that a choice must be made between providing a quality education for students and boosting the needs and morale of teachers.  The choice is false.  We teachers provide the best education we can with the resources you have provided, and will continue to do so.  However, if you cannot provide competitive financial compensation, highly effective teachers will seek positions with other districts.  Ultimately, the families in the Jordan School District will suffer.

You, Jordan School Board must provide resources for recruiting and retaining excellent teachers, and thus a quality education for the students.

I have just publicly reprimanded and criticized you.  I now invite you to visit my classroom – any day, any period, and let me know how I am performing.

Thank you.
Comments by Robin Frodge

Good evening Board, Superintendent, and Mr. Jolley.

 My name is Robin Frodge, and I am a Special Education teacher at West Jordan High School.

 I was very disappointed in my school district when I heard that even though Jordan's nighboring districts were offering steps, lanes, and COLAs, Jordan was not making a similar offer to its employees.

 I do not know why the School Board didn't direct the District Office to prepare a budget that included funding for employee salary increases similar to other school districts'. That is a major piece of how we will restore employee morale and ensure quality schools for Jordan District students.

 I encourage the Board at this point to quickly move toward a positive resolution of negotiations with your employees.

 Thank you.