Thoughts from the President…Jeff Bowden
As we embark on preparation for a new contract agreement with the Board of Education it is time to reflect on language within the guide that protects our Terms and Conditions of Employment. Language is such an important part of any contract. We often focus on the salary guides, but frequently it is the accompanying language that drives the strength of the contract. The Negotiations Team reflects on all aspects of the contract prior to beginning negotiations. We look for language that is time dated or obsolete, as well as language that needs to be edited based on current state law or due to changes in the ways educators now do their jobs. The data collection that the Negotiations Team relies on are the membership survey which includes members’ comments; scatter grams of salary guides and health benefits that are obtained from the district’s Business Administrator; issues and grievances that have transpired over the life of the contract; and from speaking to members individually or in small groups. All of these sources of information are vital in order to move forward, and I thank everyone who has participated at some level.
In speaking with members, it is clear that working knowledge of the contract varies considerably. As the current contract sunsets and a new one dawns, the Association will develop a plan to educate our members in both the content of the contract and its enforcement. To begin that process, our current contract expires on June 30, 2017, and a natural question would be what happens if a new contract is not in place by July 1, 2017. Answer: the expired contract continues in effect. However, salaries are frozen at their 2017 levels. This is the law. Those of you that have been around a few years should be aware of this fact; but, if you are new to the industry you may not know this. Obviously, your Negotiations Team will attempt to work in an efficient and prudent manner with the Board of Education to deliver a fair and timely contract. In the interim, begin to review your expiring contract for its content.
One growing concern for the ETEA lies in the area of Special Education. Many educators have expressed concerns over training as it relates to the role of teachers and support staff in the classrooms, and the role of the CST. Additionally, it is important to remind all staff that ETEA members are not supervisors, and as such should not be evaluating any colleague’s work performance. If you have a concern with a colleague in your class, then do the professional thing; speak to that colleague privately, or ask your Association Representative to mediate a discussion of the concern. Additionally, if a supervisor or principal requests information or data regarding another ETEA member, you can state that you are not responsible for evaluating a colleague or again, request that your Association Representative be present to help guide the conversation with the administrator. This is especially important with regard to any knowledge you may have or anything you have witnessed that may relate to an ongoing investigation. It is vital that both you and your colleague are protected in such matters.