Dear PAT Colleagues,
Your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS yesterday (Part 1, Part 2) to negotiate terms for a safe, stable, and equitable return to in-person education. The session resulted in frank discussions which resulted in one key victory.
PAT finally moved PPS to agree that simulcast is no longer a plan the District is intending to use for in-person education. Instead, simulcast is a plan that will be used only if educators select it as the best option for their school. The hundreds of PAT member emails sent to district leaders telling them why simulcast/concurrent learning is a bad educational model made a difference, and the issue now appears to be settled. We would love to see the District return the cameras that they spent $1.5 million on, and instead use that money to truly modernize our classrooms and make sure our facilities are ready to provide greater indoor and outdoor in-person opportunities for students.
Although this win was significant, PAT did not receive substantive responses to any of the new proposals presented to the District related to quality education and safe working conditions.
To begin with, your Team proposed a Safety Committee for each building, “to ensure that all of the provisions pertaining to health and safety in this agreement are in place.” That committee would be made up of building administrators and PAT members approved by the Association who would evaluate all spaces and certify that the terms of the agreement were met.
We also made a proposal which would guarantee that educator voice would be part of approving any in-person educational model. Our proposed language states (among other things), “Professional educators and building administrators will select the instructional model for in-person instruction that best meets the student and family needs of their school community. The selection within the building will be approved after a building vote.” We believe that this language meets the District’s stated position that the models used in April will be building specific. By having an equal professional educator and administrator voice in making that decision, we believe that the needs of families and students will actually be the guides for building plans, rather than purely PPS-institutional needs.
The other proposal of major significance is that your PAT Team totally rejected the district proposal that educators and students would be required to clean high-touch surfaces between cohorts of students. While PAT does not represent custodial staff, we have a difficult time understanding how the cleaning that is necessary to maintain a safe environment for students and educators can be done without hiring additional custodial staff. Requiring educators and students to clean is not a solution.
Your PAT Team believes that through the use of building Safety Committees, professional educator voice in selecting the instructional model that is right for their school community, and common-sense protocols on cleaning in classrooms, we will be able to create a workable set of conditions to return to in-person instruction. Those ideas, combined with earlier proposals for alternate assignments for educators with medical/family needs, paid leaves for those educators that are not able to return to any form of in-person instruction, access to childcare, adequate educator-directed time in the week, and all of the other safety and workload provisions we have proposed, will produce a fourth quarter where PAT members can truly meet student and educator needs for safe, stable, and equitable school communities.
Your PAT Bargaining Team-
Steve Lancaster, Chair