2018-2019 Bargaining Update #1

2018-2019 Negotiations Begin

Summary

  • District budget is very tight – 3% reserves, increased state funding but decreased federal funding, increased mandatory contributions to employee retirement plans (STRS and PERS), flat enrollment; district has responded with $2 million in spending cuts.
  • Any discussion of salary increases for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 will have to take place in the context of expiring MOUs on class sizes, middle school and elementary planning time, paid voluntary PD days, and better health benefit rates.
  • 2018-2019/2019-2020 Bargaining Survey will go out to the membership soon to help establish priorities for the rest of the bargaining cycle.

Report

On Thursday, October 11, the LTA Bargaining Team – Lisa Rubio (Huerta), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS), Justin Catalán (TOSA), Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), and Bargaining Chair, LTA VP of Contractual Affairs, Brian Guerrero (TOSA) – met with the LSD team – Hiacynth Martinez (Personnel), Kevin Franklin (Fiscal Services), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal) and Steve Andelson (attorney).  This was the first meeting between the two teams this bargaining cycle.

As you will recall, the LTA Bargaining Team recently concluded negotiation for the 2017-2018 school year, resulting in a modest salary increase (+1% permanent, retroactive to July 1, 2017, plus a one-time 1.5% bonus) as well as improved contract language in a number of areas (assignment notification, moves and transfers, evaluations, etc.).  The original plan for this year was to conduct a very focused bargaining cycle with the goal of negotiating another salary increase for the 2018-2019 year, and then a second, more extended bargaining cycle beginning in January 2019 focused on renewing (and improving) our MOUs on class size, elementary and middle school planning time, paid voluntary PD days, and improved health benefits rates for 2019-2020 and beyond.  Remember, all of those MOUs, negotiated in 2016, only have a 3-year life-span and all are due to expire on June 30, 2019.  Without those MOUs, class sizes will revert to contractual TK-8 schoolwide averages of 29:1, LMS teachers will lose their planning period, elementary teachers will lose the guarantee of at least 75% of PE planning time being teacher directed, we will all lose paid voluntary PD opportunities in summer and on Saturdays, and we will revert back to the district health benefit contributions specified in permanent contract language (i.e., the higher rates classified employees have been paying for the last 3 years).  We will also risk a new round of RIF notices and layoffs in the spring because lower class sizes and the LMS planning period require additional teachers who would become unnecessary if those initiatives were to end.  You can see why the LTA Bargaining Team is motivated to get started negotiating for 2019-2020 as soon as possible.

So, that was the original plan heading into 2018-2019 negotiations.  However, once the LTA Bargaining Team started to analyze the district’s 2017-2018 Unaudited Actuals (the almost-final look at last year’s account balances) and the 2018-2019 Budget, they knew they were going to have to modify those plans.  The district began this school year with 3% in reserves, the minimum allowed by the state.  State LCFF funding increased again this year, reaching 100% of final funding targets 2 years early, but federal Title I funding for low-income students decreased, and the district’s required contribution to the State Teacher Retirement System (STRS) also increased by +1.85%, to 16.28% (whatever a teacher’s salary is, the district must contribute an additional 16.28% of that amount to our retirement, up from 8.25% in 2013[1]; mandatory employee contributions have gone up, too, from 8.15% to 10.25% in the same amount of time).  Enrollment is uneven – higher at some schools and grade levels, and lower at others – but flat overall (increasing enrollment would be great but just not-declining is good).  And last year’s salary increase and bonus were paid out in July, meaning they came from this year’s budget.  Bottom line, there was very little wiggle room in the district’s budget and no money that wasn’t already committed to some ongoing expense, leaving nothing extra for an additional salary increase this year and putting the possibility of continuing our MOUs on class-sizes, planning time, voluntary paid PD and health benefits in question.

The district’s response to this budget situation has been to identify and cut $2 million in non-essential spending, drastically reducing the use of subs for pull-out PD and meeting coverage, further reducing the number of outside consultants and contractors employed by the district, cutting back on security spending, and eliminating conferences almost entirely.  These cuts will bring the district’s reserves up to about 5% by the end of the year.  CTA’s guidance to locals on reserves is that districts should spend this year’s money on this year’s students and not build up unnecessarily large reserves, but that reserves of 5-7% are reasonable to give districts flexibility to deal with unexpected costs.  CTA suggests that there’s nothing wrong with dropping down to the minimum of 3% for short periods of time, but that running a district at 3% for too long is ultimately not fiscally responsible or healthy for the district, employees or students.  Bargaining Team members Gary Moore and Jim Nadler (and LTA President Priscilla Avila) attended a week of intensive CTA training on budget analysis this summer and have reviewed the district’s budget with CTA staff person Andrew Staiano and the rest of the Bargaining Team.  They found no irregularities, bogus projections or suspicious transfers meant to hide money.  When the two bargaining teams met on October 11, they reviewed the district’s budget thoroughly and the district answered LTA’s questions regarding revenues (state, federal, lottery, local sources like Measure CL monies and rental income on the LMSTA campus, the Virtual Academy, etc.) as well as expenses (health benefit cost projections, classified and management salaries, special ed encroachment, construction costs, etc.).  In the final analysis, the district’s cuts have given it a bit more flexibility, but money is still tight and it’s not unreasonable for the district to want to build its reserves back up a little.

Given this reality (the limited funds available for a salary increase for 2018-2019, the urgency of renegotiating MOUs, and the fact that both of these will have to come out of the same funds), the LTA Bargaining Team has decided that it would be best to begin the discussion and renegotiation of all MOUs immediately.  Each year, before negotiations can begin, both the district and LTA must “sunshine” the articles they plan to negotiate, and the public must be given the opportunity to comment.  Because LTA originally planned to focus on salary first, we only sunshined Article 6: Compensation and Benefits and Article 9: Class Size.  LTA will now add Article 7: Work Year and Hours of Employment to our sunshine, allowing the Bargaining Team to begin the work on renegotiating all MOUs.  Negotiating for an additional salary increase and the MOUs at the same time will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome that we can all be happy with, but it will also require a certain amount of reflection and prioritization by the membership.  All these things still come out of the same pot of money.  If, in the end, there isn’t enough money available to fund all of them, it will be important to know which teachers feel increases their quality of life and benefit students the most.  Class sizes?  Planning time?  Professional development?  Better salaries and more affordable health benefits?  All of them, obviously, which is why we bargained for them in the first place, but after 3 years with the MOUs, where does the membership want to see the Bargaining Team concentrate their efforts and where might they be able to flex a little?  The Bargaining Team will be sending out the first 2018-2019/2019-2020 Bargaining Survey soon to ask the membership important questions about how the MOUs have (or haven’t) benefited teachers and students and about what they feel the Bargaining Team’s priorities should be.

Besides the conversations about the budget, salaries and the MOUs, the district also sunshined 3 articles where they hope to modify the existing contract language:

ARTICLE 10: LEAVE PROVISIONS

  • Add language specifying that teachers who work less than a full year (mid-year new hires, for example) will not receive 10 sick days, rather they will have the number of their sick days prorated for the number of months they work.

ARTICLE 11: EVALUATIONS

  • Change the evaluation notification deadline from the end of the 2nd week of the work year to the end of the 3rd week.

ARTICLE 12: SAFETY CONDITIONS

  • Change the requirement to replace air filters from 4 times/year to 2 times/year because better, more efficient air filters are now available.

As always, the LTA Bargaining Team is committed to improving the learning environment for students and the working conditions for teachers.  We understand that the district’s budget is tight and we applaud the district’s cost-cutting measures to grow the reserves (a little) and make funds available for programs and initiatives that have a direct impact on teaching and learning.  We believe the process we’ve begun can result in achieving the things teachers want most and continuing the most beneficial aspects of the MOUs we negotiated 3 years ago.

The two teams have scheduled their next bargaining session for Wednesday, November 28.

[1]  Believe it or not, teachers have actually gotten an additional +8% in raises since 2013… it’s just all gone into supporting our retirements.

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Lennox Teachers Endorse 3rd School Board Candidate – Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez!

The Lennox Teachers Association hosted a hugely successful 2018 Lennox School Board Candidate Forum the evening of Wednesday, September 26th in the Lennox Park Community Room.  Of 7 candidates running for School Board, 6 were invited to participate in the Forum (the 7th did not make available any contact information with his application to the LA County Registrar of Voters), and 4 made it a priority to participate and introduce themselves to the community – Alexis Aceves, Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez, Sergio Hernandez and Shannon Thomas-Allen.  All participating candidates did a great job answering teachers’ questions about their beliefs and priorities, and the voters of Lennox had a chance to get to the the folks who want to represent them on the Lennox School District Board of Education.

After the Forum, the LTA Rep Council met to consider giving the union’s endorsement to a 3rd candidate.  The LTA Rep Council had voted unanimously back in June to endorse the 2 incumbent candidates – Shannon Thomas-Allen and Sergio Hernandez – in recognition for their hard work in support of students and teachers during their first terms, and only wanted to endorse a 3rd candidate if one of the newcomers really distinguished themselves during the forum… and that is exactly what happened.  Ms. Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez impressed the teachers with her blend of experience (she’s worked with local government in her home town in Mexico and has served as DELAC President here in Lennox) and fresh ideas, with her sincerity and humility, and with her desire to bring all stakeholders together (particularly parents who have not been as involved in the past) to participate in school district decision making.  With her perspectives as an active parent and community member, and as an immigrant and English-learner herself, we believe she would make an excellent addition to the Lennox School District Board of Education and compliment the talents and view-points of the the other Board Members well, allowing the Board, the district, teachers, and parents to continue the work of making Lennox the best place possible for our students to learn, grow and thrive.  Congratulation, Ms. Gonzalez!

 

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Lennox Teachers Endorse Sergio Hernandez and Shannon Thomas-Allen for School Board

The November 2018 election will have a lasting impact on the nation, the state, and on the community of Lennox.  For the first time in 5 years, a majority of seats on the Lennox School District Board of Education will be up for election all at the same time.  Five years ago, it was a time of tremendous turmoil, change and economic hardship for the district, for the teachers, and for the community of Lennox.  Since them, we, the teachers of Lennox, have worked closely with the community and staff and administration of the schools and district to rebuild and provide our students with the education they deserve.  An important part of this effort has been support, vision and leadership of our School Board.  With this in mind, and with our eye on the future, the Representative Council of the Lennox Teachers Association has voted unanimously to endorse the 2 incumbent candidates who are seeking re-election to continue the work they have begun on behalf of our students – Sergio Hernandez and Shannon Thomas-Allen.  Both incumbents bring with them unique and important perspectives as well as 5 years of experience on the School Board.  The district is doing well, our programs are expanding, and our enrollment is growing.  With the early resignation of our 3rd incumbent School Board member, John Navarro, we will definitely be gaining a new face on the School Board in November, someone who will bring new ideas and fresh perspectives.  We, the teachers of Lennox, believe that balance of these new perspectives with the wisdom and experience of our veteran School Board members will provide our schools and district with the continuity and leadership necessary to lead the Lennox School district forward in times of prosperity and times of challenge.  Please, join us in voting for Sergio Hernendez and Shannon Thomas-Allen for the Lennox School District Board of Education in November 2018.

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2017-2018 Bargaining Update #10

The May 7, 2018 Tentative Agreement has been approved overwhelmingly by the LTA membership. Thanks again to the Bargaining Team and everyone who made this happen. Also, know that the state budget for next year looks really good and the Bargaining Team will rest (just a little) and dive right back in to start negotiating for the 2018-2019 school year. Thanks, everyone.

Posted in assignments, association rights, bargaining, class size, district budget, evaluations, leave, moves, planning time, professional development, salary, special ed, state budget, transfers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017-2018 Bargaining Update #9

Tentative Agreement Reached

On Monday, May 7, after 8 meetings and almost a year of negotiations, the LTA Bargaining Team, led by veteran negotiator Lisa Rubio (Huerta) and including Priscilla Avila (Moffett), Justin Catalan (TOSA), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS) and Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), reached a Tentative Agreement with the LSD team, made up of Hiacynth Martinez (Personnel), Kevin Franklin (Fiscal Services), Eddie Garcia (Pupil Services), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal) and Steve Andelson (attorney).

This Tentative Agreement includes several significant gains for teachers – additional release time for many classroom and assignment changes, evaluations up to every 4 years for veteran teachers, clarification of the course approval process for salary advancement, etc.  It also creates a committee made up of both teachers and administrators to continue looking for solutions to class size issues resulting from the greater inclusion of students with special needs in general ed classrooms as well as imbalances between class sizes in dual-language and structured-English-immersion classes.  With regard to salary, the Tentative Agreement also secures for teachers what is effectively a 2.5% salary increase for 2017-2018 (to be paid in July, retroactively to July 1, 2017) and a 1% on-going permanent salary increase.  It’s not a huge raise, and we recognize that some of you will be disappointed, but after much analysis of the district’s budget, the LTA Bargaining Team felt that this was as much as the district would be able to agree to.  As we’ve said before, this year’s negotiations were much more about accounting than they were about organizing.  The district tends to spend most of the money it receives from the state each year and not hold back large amounts in reserve, and this year’s LCFF increase was the smallest we’ve seen in 5 years (it was still and increase, just a very small one).  How much we can get for salary increases through bargaining and negotiations is very closely tied to how much “new money” the district brings in each year (see the attached table).  Overall, it’s a good package of contract language improvements and a small but reasonable salary increase given the budget.

Now that the two teams have reached a Tentative Agreement, the next step is for teachers and the School Board to review the TA and approve it (the county office of education will also have to review the TA and confirm that it’s sustainable and won’t cause the district any future financial hardship, a process called an “AB1200 review”).  Your LTA Bargaining Team will hold an information meeting next week to answer member questions about the Tentative Agreement and provide insight into the negotiations process:

Tentative Agreement Info Session

Monday, May 14, 3:30 PM – LMS Library

Voting to ratify the TA will begin at Monday’s information meeting at LMS, and will then continue at school sites through Wednesday, May 16 in the afternoon.  Votes will be counted and results announced Wednesday night.

 

Summary of the May 7, 2018 Tentative Agreement

ARTICLE 3: ASSOCIATION RIGHTS

  • District will provide all newly hired teachers with a 1/2-day new employee orientation within the first month of school, of which, 1 hour will be reserved for LTA to meet with the new bargaining unit members; district will also inform LTA of all new certificated hires during the year so the Association can reach out to new bargaining unit members.
  • District will provide LTA with new teacher contact information within 30 days of hiring.

ARTICLE 6: COMPENSATION & BENEFITS

  • Increase salaries by 1% permanently, retroactive to July 1, 2017, with retro checks for the 2017-2018 school year to be paid no later than July 20, 2018; all teachers employed by the district as of June 21, 2018 will also receive an additional one-time payment equal to 1.5% of their current salary, also to be paid no later than July 20, 2018.
  • Establish a consistent benefits open-enrollment window, ending August 25 of each year.
  • Update language regarding what activities qualify for work-year credit [Appendix A] and which districts will be used for relative salary comparisons [Appendix B].

ARTICLE 8: ASSIGNMENTS & TRANSFERS

  • Teachers will be notified of the next year’s assignment 6 days prior to the last day of school (rather than 5 days prior).
  • Teachers who request and are granted voluntary transfers that take effect during the school year shall receive 1 day of release time to pack and unpack (previously 0 days); teachers who are subject to involuntary transfers shall receive 2 days of release time to pack and unpack (previously 1 day).
  • Teachers subject to room changes during the school year shall receive 5 days’ notice and 2 days of release time to pack and unpack (previously 1 day); teachers subject to assignment changes (but not room changes) during the school year shall receive 5 days’ notice and 1 day of release time to prepare (previously 0 days).
  • LTA withdraws proposal requiring district to fly all TOSA and certificated management vacancies, and district withdraws proposal to eliminate the requirement to fly any TOSA and certificated management vacancies; current language requiring the district to fly TOSA and certificated management vacancies “under most circumstances” will remain.

ARTICLE 9: CLASS SIZE

  • MOU forming a committee composed of 5 teachers and 5 administrators to address class-size issues and impacts resulting from the greater inclusion of students with special needs in general ed classrooms as well as imbalances between class sizes in dual language and structured English immersion classes. The committee will make recommendations to the LTA and district bargaining teams by December 1, 2018.

ARTICLE 10: LEAVE PROVISIONS

  • Update parental leave language to be consistent with current CA EdCode (section 44977.5).

ARTICLE 11: EVALUATION

  • Teachers who have been with the district for 10 or more years and whose previous evaluation was satisfactory or better may, by mutual agreement between the teacher and principal, be evaluated every 4 years (rather than the current “every 3 years”).

ARTICLE 17: PRIOR WRITTEN APPROVAL FOR COURSEWORK

  • Approval of Course Work forms must be submitted for approval 14 calendar days before courses begin, and transcripts must be submitted within 3 weeks of course completion. In cases where transcripts are not submitted on time, advancement on the salary schedule shall not take place until the beginning of the school year following submission of transcripts, and no salary scale advancement credit will be granted for courses that did not receive prior approval.
  • Continuing education credits offered at district-approved conferences shall be automatically eligible for salary scale advancement credit without additional prior approval.

Read the full text of May 7, 2018 LTA/LSD Tentative Agreement.

 

In the current environment, salary and contract negotiations have become almost a constant, on-going process.  The state budget and LCFF allocations look good for next year, better than they were this year.  Almost immediately after we finalize this Tentative Agreement and the School Board approves it, the LTA Bargaining Team will sunshine their proposals for further salary increases for the 2018-2019 school year, and as soon as that’s done, we’ll begin working on successor agreements to the 2016-2019 MOUs on class sizes, elementary PE and planning time, the LMS planning period, voluntary PD and planning days, and maintaining increased district contributions to our health benefits.  As always, teacher input, participation and support are appreciated and necessary for us to continue to enjoy the successes we’ve achieved over the last few years.  On behalf of the LTA Bargaining Team and the whole LTA leadership team, thank you.

Posted in association rights, bargaining, benefits, class size, district budget, evaluations, health benefits, LCAP, Local Control Funding Formula, moves, planning time, professional development, School Board, state budget, transfers, uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment