As the school year winds down, I want to take a chance to thank you for the work you do for our students, each and every day. Despite the challenges we faced this year, our commitment to teaching ALL children, no matter where they come from, remains strong and we have persevered.
Whatever your plans for the summer, I hope you have fun, and find time to rest and recharge.
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row we may be starting back in the fall without a contract. It looks like we’ll also start the school year without a permanent Superintendent. This situation is unacceptable, and you can read our latest Bargaining Brief to find out more about where negotiations stand.
On Tuesday, we did have a small victory. The School Board, faced with the pressure of our Unfair Labor Practice charge, voted to honor our contract and change the 2017-18 school year from 192 days to 190.
I want to be clear—a shorter school year, in this context, is NOT really a victory. It represents everything we fought against with the Measure 97 campaign. After falling short at the ballot box, we hoped that our elected leaders would work together to find the revenue necessary to properly fund our schools.
Tacking on two extra days while our students suffer larger class sizes, fewer electives, and less building-wide support is no solution. Likewise, we must resist the corporate reformers who insist there is no alternative, and that educators must continue doing more with less.
I’m proud of the School Board for intervening and doing the right thing—honoring their commitments and honoring our contract. Ironically, the only no vote on the Board was Pam Knowles, and it’s HER signature on our contract! Thankfully, her term is up June 30th and we can look forward to much better leadership thanks to your hard work this May!
Our new School Board must: 1) Intervene with the District bargaining team, force them to seriously consider our proposals, and be willing to compromise when we meet in July. 2) Make finding a superintendent who is an educational leader a top priority. 3) Ensure that everyone in PPS honors their agreements and is accountable.
As a result of this vote by the School Board, we are putting our Unfair Labor Practice charge on hold until we see the final staffing levels for the fall. Over the summer, your bargaining team and internal organizers will continue their work. We will keep you informed via email as things develop, but every member must be ready to do what’s necessary to ensure we reach a fair settlement, one that’s in the interests of the students we serve.