Your bargaining team met with our counterparts from the District for face-to-face mediation yesterday. We were happy to have our new Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero at the table for the first time, in addition to Kylie Rogers, Chief Human Resources Officer.
At the outset of the meeting, your bargaining chair Steve Lancaster said he expected this meeting to be a breakthrough or a breakdown. By the end of the evening he concluded it was neither.
Superintendent Guerrero opened the session by presenting some of his general priorities for PPS, and presented several of the District’s new proposals for Article 5, Work Year, Workday, Workload. The District has expanded its original proposal to now add 2 new instructional days and an additional 2 days of professional development to the school year.
PAT President Suzanne Cohen reiterated her message to the School Board that the District needs to stop expanding the “nice-to-haves” at the expense of the “have-to-haves”. While we share the Superintendent’s interest in meaningful professional development, your bargaining team was disappointed to see that the District still has no plan to ensure we have a better school year, with adequate resources and staffing, before we start adding days to school calendar.
The District also reviewed their salary proposal with your bargaining team, and we will be meeting with the District in working groups next week to dive into the assumptions behind their cost calculations for both the PPS and the PAT salary proposals.
Thanks to your collective efforts and ongoing organizing, the District finally provided your bargaining team with a nearly full set of proposals from the District, which we will be reviewing over the next week. This pressure also spurred the District to abandon their misguided legal maneuver of refusing to bargain over several PAT proposals by claiming they were permissive rather than mandatory subjects of bargaining.
These are all welcome developments, although it remains unclear whether the District can really resolve its longstanding dysfunction. If we had received these proposals a year ago we might even call it progress.
However, we are well into our second year without a contract, and yesterday we were not able to address several key issues, including the District’s acute special education needs; what it will take to create a safe and secure learning environment for students and staff; and glaring problems like inadequate elementary planning time.
Please continue to show your solidarity and keep organizing. Your bargaining team’s voice is loud and clear at the table when the District knows there are thousands of members backing up our words with action. PPS leadership has shown that they may now be willing to start bargaining, but it remains to be seen whether that will translate into a truly acceptable proposal that address the most critical concerns of educators.
We have two full days of mediation scheduled with the full District team on November 15th and 16th, which should reveal whether we have finally achieved the break-through we are all hoping for.
In the meantime, please fill out your bargaining survey by November 9th so we will have time to compile and analyze the results before our next session.
This information is critical, and will enable your bargaining team to focus on what matters most to you.