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.

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