Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Women's Grants from Zions Bank

Deadline to apply for one of six $3,000 micro-grants is July 6
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; June 17, 2015 — Zions Bank is accepting applications for its 2015 Smart Women Grants, open to anyone whose proposal promotes the empowerment of women or directly benefits women or low-income and underserved populations in Idaho and Utah.
Six $3,000 micro-grants will be awarded, one in each of the following categories:
·        Small business start-up and expansion
·        Community development
·        Continuing education and teacher support
·        Child and/or elder care
·        Health and human services
·        Arts and culture
Visit or call 1-800-737-6586 for more information or to obtain an application. Applications must be received or postmarked by Monday, July 6. Grant recipients will be announced in September.
Applicants need not be clients of Zions Bank nor are they required to be residents of Idaho or Utah. Employees and immediate family members of Zions Bank and its affiliates are not eligible.
“The Smart Women Grants are an extension of our ongoing commitment to empower women in achieving financial independence,” said Lori Chillingworth, Executive Vice President of Zions Bank’s Small Business Division. “Our goal is to bolster the efforts of everyday heroes who strengthen our communities in so many ways by sharing their time and talents.”
Since the program began in 2005, Zions Bank has awarded $199,347 through the Smart Women Grants. Last year’s recipients included a meal program for low-income students; an organization that provides emergency rent assistance; a fair trade, nonprofit organization that supports artisans in rural Idaho and on Tribal reservations; a program targeting eating disorders; a costume and dress sewing business; and a tutoring program for children with learning differences.
Priority consideration for funding will be given to proposals that promote the empowerment of women, emphasize collaboration between women entrepreneurs or non-profit entities supporting women, directly benefit women or low-income and underserved populations, support endeavors that immediately benefit communities in which Zions Bank has a presence and for proposals that provide a sound plan for measuring performance and results.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Year Round - Traditional Pay History

On May 11, 2010, seven year round schools found out in a School Board meeting that they would be moving to a traditional calendar for the next year.  The employees at those schools had just three months to figure out how to adjust for the lack of an August paycheck.  The reason for the gap is that the final YR paycheck is July, and the first traditional paycheck is September.  All of the employees at those seven schools were given the skip an August paycheck or taking their salary over 13 months for the 2010-11 school year.  Three months was not enough time for employees to save to cover a no August paycheck, so the majority took the 13-month paychecks.

As a teacher at one of those seven schools and newly elected as JEA President, I started asking around at the district, trying to find someone who wanted to find a solution to the pay problems that stem from changing calendars.  I spoke to the Director of Payroll, the Director of Accounting, the Business Administrator, the new Director of Payroll, and the new Business Administrator.  Two of the seven schools that went traditional in 2010 have since returned to YR.  With seven YR schools moving to a traditional calendar for 2015-16, two of those only being guaranteed traditional for two years, and the possibility of moving another school to traditional in 2016-17 with some possibly moving back to YR in 2017-18, employees at those schools asked the School Board to fix the pay issue that occurs when moving from YR to traditional or traditional to YR. 

JEA negotiates what you are paid, but not how you are paid, so I was pleased to be invited to participate in looking for a way to solve the pay problems that occur when school calendars change.  I met with John Larsen, Business Administrator, June LeMaster, Director of Human Resources, Sarah Palmer, Director of Payroll, and Chris Godfrey, UniServ Director for JESPA multiple times.  We started by putting out any idea without worrying how it would impact the district or employees.  From there, we looked at specific options, if they were viable, and how employees and the district would be impacted.

I presented preliminary ideas to YR JEA ARs at our meeting in February.  The administration did not want to do a survey of all YR employees, because the School Board should see the plan first.  When I spoke with the YR ARs, they understood the need for a transition plan, and really wanted five years to make the transition, so I pushed for that timeline.  I went through the plan in detail with YR JEA ARs or their representatives at our meeting in March.  I then made an effort to personally visit with every YR JEA AR who was not able to attend the March meeting within the two days following that meeting.

I understand the concerns of teachers at the 15 schools not currently moving to a traditional calendar.  I have found that teachers at those 15 schools who have been through a calendar change before are more understanding and receptive to this transition plan.  The School Board is allowing up to six months for people at the 15 schools to share additional ideas on how to solve the pay issues that come with changing calendars.  You will receive a survey toward the end of May seeking those ideas.  I encourage you to complete the survey and share your ideas for solving the pay issue.

As I met with teachers at some of the 15 schools, I put individual information into a spreadsheet I designed to look at the impact of a 13-month payout of your salary for the 2015-16 school year.  The coming year is a good year for many employees, because we are receiving steps, lanes, and a 2% cost of living adjustment (raise) due to the two-year agreement JEA negotiated in 2014.  For teachers receiving a step and 2%, the gross pay difference is less than $100 a month for 2015-16.  While the School Board is still seeking another way to solve the pay issue, they are allowing those who want to transition to a traditional pay schedule in the 2015-16 school year may do so.  All JEA ARs have been sent the spreadsheet.  I am also happy to meet with JEA members individually or at a meeting for the school to help you see if the coming year is a good year for you.

In six months time, if another workable plan to fix the YR to traditional pay issue is not presented, the School Board will likely go back to the plan originally presented.  Once you transition to a traditional pay schedule, you will have the freedom and flexibility to transfer to any school regardless of schedule or have your school change schedules and not have to worry about the pay implications with just a few months' notice.  If teaching on a YR calendar but paid on a traditional pay schedule, your last paycheck when you leave the district will be August instead of July, allowing another month of health insurance coverage. 

Please contact me if you have questions or would like me to come meet with you.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Over Testing Resolution

The following is an email from UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.

Over the past few weeks, students have been taking SAGE tests on writing. We have heard from many of you about the challenges your students have experienced with this test and others.

The UEA has assisted Rep. Marie Poulson in writing a resolution (numbered HCR7, view here) to minimize excessive testing and its negative impacts on the schoolchildren of Utah.

HCR7 is being heard in the House Education Standing Committee on Tuesday, February 17, at 4:10 p.m. in Room 30 in the House Building (view agenda). I will be testifying in support of this resolution. I encourage you, your members and anyone who can possibly join us to do so. Our presence will show our support of this resolution and the efforts of Rep. Poulson.

Even if you cannot attend, please share your testing stories by e-mailing your Legislator.

Thank you!

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
UEA President

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

UEA Legislative Summary February 2-6

I know I encouraged you in an email to listen to UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh's comments, but the links for that are not working, so I removed them.

During Week Two, about a dozen education-related bills of the nearly 70 currently being tracked by the UEA were heard. In addition, the ,Executive Appropriations Committee approved a base budget that funds the growth in new students, but cuts about 2% from last year’s overall budget. A highlight of the week was UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh’s testimony before the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
Public Education Budget: The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommended and the Executive Appropriations Committee approved a base budget that cuts about 2% from last year’s overall budget. What the committee called a 2% budget cutting “exercise,” has created a great deal of angst in the education community, although committee members are quick to say they believe the final budget will provide a “significant” education budget increase.
The approved base budget includes line item cuts to USTAR ($6.2 million), To and From Transportation ($6 million), the K-3 Reading Program ($2.6 million) and in Concurrent Enrollment ($3,000,000). It also cuts the Flexible Allocation line item ($23,106,000), which is used to help school districts fund employee retirement and Social Security costs (see the full subcommittee recommendation).
Of particular concern to many education stakeholders was a cut to the line item for Charter School Replacement funding ($20.56 million). This not only diverts local property taxes away from districts to charter schools, it also marks a shift in policy done through a budget process rather than being vetted and discussed by the entire Legislature. This shift puts an increased share of taxpayer funds under the control of unelected charter school governing board members and out of the control and accountability of elected officials in districts.
On Friday, Feb. 6, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh gave a moving presentation to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. She first presented the UEA’s Issue Brief about the public education budget and provided members of the committee a brief to help explain “above the line” and “below the line” items in the budget and how they relate to local control. She then reviewed information from a survey of teachers conducted by the UEA asking them where the state should invest to have the most positive impact on student outcomes. “The most pressing need, identified as a top concern by more than 88 percent of teachers, was reducing class size. This was followed by increasing salaries and benefits to attract and retain quality teachers, which was identified by 78 percent as a priority,” she said.
Gallagher-Fishbaugh also shared selected stories from classroom teachers about how legislative decisions impact teachers, students and classrooms. Members of the committee were also provided with stories from educators in their respective districts. After sharing a few stories, she said, “The bottom line is that our teachers are feeling overworked and under-appreciated…our students are over-tested and under-served…and our classrooms are overcrowded and underfunded.” She concluded by asking the legislators to support Governor Herbert’s proposed budget and his requested 6.25% WPU increase.
Educator Day on the Hill: Teachers from Canyons, Nebo, Jordan, Granite and Davis School Districts, as well as members of UEA-Retired, met participated in UEA’s Educator Day on the Hill. Following a quick briefing, participants listened as UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh presented to the Public Education Appropriation Committee (see above).
Reps. Robert Spendlove and Norman Thurston addressed the group and answered questions. Rep. Spendove thanked educators for everything they do. He said he supports the Governor’s proposal of 6.25% on the WPU and hopes legislative leadership and the governor will negotiate a significant increase. Rep. Thurston said education is the No. 1 issue in his district. His constituents are asking that the legislature please get out of the way and let the teachers teach and stop all of the testing.
Bills on the move this week(For the current status on all bills of interest see the UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet)
HB33: American Indian-Alaskan Native Education Amendments is designed to codify the Native American position at the State Office of Education and establish the American Indian and Alaskan Native committee to deal with Native American achievement gap. The bill passed Senate Education Committee on a vote of 3-1.
HB54 (1st sub.): Public Education Increased Funding would increase the state income tax from 5% to 5.5% and put the money in dedicated funds that would be used for teacher pay and digital learning. The bill failed in the House Education Committee with only two yes votes.
HB118: Public Education Human Resource Management Act Revisions opens up SB64 from 2012, further defining dismissal for cause. It was heard in the House Education Committee, but no action was taken. During the hearing, UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom said the UEA does not fully support the bill but wants to continue discussions with the sponsor to make improvements. No action was taken on the bill in the House Education Committee.
HB119: Charter School Finance Amendments would require all school districts to allocate 25% of district per pupil revenues for students attending charter schools. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed House Education Committee with only two ‘no’ votes.
HB124: Education Background Check Amendments would impact both licensed and classified employees by clarifying background check provisions and procedures. There was no public comment and it passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
HB128: Maintenance of Student Records deals with student records and keeping those records. It will allow districts to have a single database instead of two databases for records. There was no public comment. The bill passed House Education Committee unanimously and was added to the consent calendar.
HB163: Student Data Breach Requirements requires a school district or charter school to notify the parent of a student if there is a release of a student’s personally identifiable information. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
SB104: Education Elections and Reporting Requirements would create a partisan election process for local and state school boards. The UEA opposes this bill and instead supports direct non-partisan elections of state school board members at both the local and state level. The bill passed the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee 5-1.
SB106: Class Size Reduction Program Amendments changes the way class size reduction funding is distributed. It passed Senate Education Committee unanimously.
SB107: Computer Science Initiative for Public Schools creates a computer science initiative that would be directed by the State Board of Education and the STEM Action Center. It allocates just over $2 million to select a vendor to operate the program. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
SB114: Board of Education Compensation Amendments requires the Legislature to annually appropriate salary compensation for members of the State Board of Education. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
SB117: Interventions for Reading Difficulties Pilot Program would be used to start grant program for districts to apply for a proposed grant. It passed Senate Education Committee unanimously.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Extended Day Versus Year Round Schedule

Having attended multiple Jordan Board Study Sessions where elementary schedules have been addressed, I believe the Board would like to phase out the year round schedule over time.  See this KSL article

The Board decided that 5 schools, Columbia, Mountain Shadows, Hayden Peak, Oquirrh, and Riverton Elementary, will move from year round to traditional for the 2015-16 school year.  These schools have been told about this change.

The Board decided that 2 schools, Bluffdale and Riverside, will pilot an extended day schedule for the 2016-17 school year.  Bluffdale was chosen because it is a smaller year round school, but not small enough to go traditional.  Riverside was chosen because it is a large traditional school, that is on the verge of needing to move to year round.

The Board will decide on Tuesday, January 27 whether Butterfield Canyon and Herriman Elementary will move to a traditional schedule for the short term, a minimum of two years.  The Board is split on this issue.  Parents want to go traditional, even if only for two years, while teachers want to stay year round.  From discussions, if these schools go traditional for 2015-16, that schedule could be guaranteed for two years.  At that point, an extended day schedule may be needed to keep these schools on a traditional calendar.

Alpine District has been utilizing the extended day model for about 30 years.  Jordan District started year round in 1985, or 30 years ago.  Alpine opted for extended day to avoid year round.  Both models increase the capacity of the building. 

Year round increases the capacity of a school from 25-33%, depending on the number of classes per grade that are rotating classrooms.  Increased costs come in paying utilities all year and increased pay for administrators and cafeteria staff.  There are also busing costs for more days per year.

Extended day increases the capacity of a school from 10-15%.  Class size ratios are higher.  For instance, Jordan uses 27 as the number of students for sixth grade.  Extended day would use 32 students for sixth grade.  This varies by elementary grade level, and as now, there is not a top limit to that class size.  There are increased costs of paying teachers 13% more for working approximately an hour more per day (roughly equivalent to a secondary teacher being paid to work their prep hour).  Also, there are additional busing runs daily.  The Alpine model has four specialists per school in the middle of the day giving teachers 30 minutes of prep time per day.  Another additional cost.

Year round teaching day is 20 minutes longer than a traditional day, but 10 days shorter than a traditional year.  Extended teaching day is 60 minutes longer than a traditional day with the same number of days and breaks as other traditional schools in Jordan District.  Jordan currently has 40 minutes for lunch, while Alpine extended day allows 35 minutes for lunch. 

The Board has directed district staff to come up with an exact plan and budget for what extended day would look like in Jordan.  While they will use Alpine as a basis of where to start, I'm sure there will be changes for Jordan.

Teachers will need to look at all their options and consider whether they are interested in the extended day with additional teaching time for additional pay, 75 minutes with half the class at the beginning and end of the day, and being on a traditional calendar, or whether they want to stay in a year round or traditional day school.  The Elementary Teacher Transfer Fair is Monday, March 30 at Rose Creek Elementary. 

One of my biggest concerns, which is likely why Jordan went year round rather than extended day 30 years ago, is the costs.  Any additional costs come out of the same maintenance and operations budget that salaries, benefits, classroom supplies, and technology needs come out of.  Looking at the very big picture,  I do not want to sacrifice steps, lanes, and other benefits for employees to meeting extended day cost needs.