Measure 97 can’t solve every problem we are facing in PPS, but it will give us the tools we need to fix things that aren’t working in our District.
For example, one of the most common issues educators face is workload, and we’ve been pushing the District to address it for years. In our last bargain they rejected the concrete workload and caseload language we proposed, agreeing instead to create a joint workload committee with a dedicated budget. The process was supposed to identify the biggest trouble spots and use the funds to provide relief, but after three years there’s a clear pattern.
Not only are most requests for workload relief related to class size and special education, they require additional staff to really fix the problem. The committee’s budget can’t cover more than a tiny fraction of the cases, so most problems go unaddressed. The committee hasn’t even met this year and its budget has been cut. It’s clear our students need more adults in the building, but that can’t happen unless Measure 97 passes.
Another example is the Rapid Response Team, created during our interim bargaining around safety and discipline last year. As the name suggests, the team is supposed to provide a rapid response to crisis situations and help stabilize them. However, even though we ratified our interim agreement with the District in March, they are still struggling to get the team up and running!
Like our workload issues, there is such overwhelming need it's not clear how they will be able to do more than put out fires. With so many of our students experiencing trauma and with the district staff spread so thin, there is almost no way to provide the wrap around services our students deserve. Measure 97 is our best hope for providing comprehensive tiered support services to our students.
We’ll continue to push the District at the bargaining table, but what we’re able to achieve hinges on whether Measure 97 passes or not. Although the District hasn’t always made good use of the money it has, there’s no question our schools need substantially more resources. And many of the biggest barriers to building the schools our students deserve stem from a lack of funding. According to the District, if Measure 97 passes PPS will see an increase of about 80 million dollars per year. If it doesn’t pass we could be facing cuts of up to seven percent.
That’s why our work on Measure 97 is so critical. As we predicted, corporations like Wells Fargo and Comcast have started throwing their money around, putting out negative ads and spreading misinformation about Measure 97. It’s up to us to fight these big corporations and make sure they pay their fair share, so that we can address all the critical issues in the District.
I’m asking every PAT member to put in at least 2 hours canvassing or phone banking between now and the election.
Organized people can still beat organized money, but we can’t do it without you.