The August 13, 2019 Tentative Agreement has been approved by the LTA membership!
Thanks again to the LTA Bargaining Team for negotiating on our behalf, and to our Site Reps, Elections Committee and everyone else who worked hard to make this happen.
TENTATIVE AGREEMENT ON HEALTH BENEFITS REACHED
Total Plan Cost (monthly)
District Contribution (monthly)
Cost to Employees (monthly)
|Employee + 1||$1,260.67||$863.24||$397.43|
|Employee + 1||$1,437.44||$911.66||$525.78|
|Employee + 1||$1,159.12||$823.83||$335.29|
|Employee + 1||$1,322.44||$823.83||$498.61|
Health Savings Account
|Employee + 1||$2,217.16||$958.50||$1,258.66|
On Thursday, July 11, the LTA Bargaining Team – Lisa Rubio (Huerta), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS), Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), and LTA President, Priscilla Avila (sitting in for Bargaining Chair, Brian Guerrero) – met with the LSD team – Sherry Johnstone (interim Personnel), John Vinke (interim Business), Eric Medrano (SpEd), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal), and Steve Andelson (attorney). The district gave an update on the district budget and the various outside auditors working with the interim administration to straighten out district finances. Besides several large, previously under-reported or unreported costs than must now be paid in full, cash flow was a major concern, particularly in August/ September and December. The district team wondered aloud about delaying or even renegotiating the one-time 1% salary payment to teachers agreed to last May; the LTA Bargaining Team said absolutely not. The district team made no formal counterproposal to LTA’s last proposal on health benefits (to continue the 3-year MOU on increased health benefits for 1 more year).
On Tuesday, August 13, the LTA Bargaining Team met with the LSD team again. The meeting began with another budget update. Known outstanding debts had not changed significantly since July, cash flow remained a concern, and district shared that FCMAT will be joining the multitude of auditors already reviewing the district’s books. The district expects the budget submitted to the county on July 1 for 2019-2020 to be rejected because it falls approximately $600,000 short of required 3% minimum reserves. District staff spent most of the summer identifying further cost-cutting measures, including reducing classified positions (through eliminating vacant positions, voluntary resignations, and offering early retirement incentives to senior custodians), reducing the number of certificated teacher on special assignment positions, and scheduling 5 furlough days for all management (equivalent to an approximately 2.5% salary reduction for the year, plus management will not receive the one-time 1% payment in December).
Next, the district team presented LTA with a formal proposal on health benefits stating that the district would be unable to renew the 3-year MOU on increased health benefits. For reference, the district’s proposal included what the district believed the contractual baseline contribution rates should be. Upon analysis, the LTA team disagreed with the district’s calculation of baseline contribution rates, believing that the correct rates for district contributions should be higher for several plans (the LTA team believes that an error occurred when the district calculated baseline contribution rates a few years ago and was it never corrected; this error hasn’t affected teachers because our rates have been determined by the MOU for the last 3 years, but – if true – it might have affected classified employees, who have been at the baseline contribution rates all along). Accepting that the district couldn’t afford to renew the MOU (and that LACOE wouldn’t approve an agreement with district contributions at that level), the LTA team proposed a contribution rate table that would even out district contributions across similar plans (right now, the district contributes more to employee +1 and family in some plans than it does in others). District rejected the LTA proposal because those contribution rates would still be higher than the contractual baseline in some cases and restated that the district simply could not go higher than the contractual rates. The district team proposed a compromise rate table, with district contribution rates somewhere between the district’s calculations and LTA’s calculations. The LTA team rejected this proposal because anything lower than the correct baseline rates would actually be a cut. Finally, the district agreed to use the LTA calculated contribution rates for 2019-2020 on the contrition that representatives from both teams would meet in the next few months to look back at historic district contribution rates and determine the true contractual baseline rates to be used when calculating district and employee contributions starting in 2020-2021.
Other than the agreement on health benefits, both teams agreed to drop all other proposals in order to close negotiations for the 2019-2020 year. This means the district has withdrawn proposals related to Article 3: Association Rights, Article 4: Grievance Procedures, and Article 8: Assignments & Transfers, and LTA has withdrawn additional proposals related to Article 9: Class Sizes, although the March 5, 2019 MOU on class sizes remains in effect for 2019-2020 and LTA will continue to work toward fairness in class sizes at LMS increased by the inclusion of small SpEd classes in average class-size calculations as well as in student-to-staff ratios in the elementary PE program.
As always, the LTA Bargaining Team is committed to improving the learning environment for students and the working conditions for teachers. We understand members’ disappointment that the MOU increasing district contributions to health benefits will not be renewed and the hardship this may cause many our members and their families (most members of the LTA Bargaining Team are currently on employee + 1 or family plans themselves). Between disastrous district finances, strict county oversight, and the threat of increased state and county authority if the district’s fiscal situation isn’t improved, making sure that the district is completely and correctly fulfilling its contractual obligations is the best the LTA Bargaining Team believes can be achieved. For anyone tempted to reject this tentative agreement out of frustration or the belief that continued negotiations might achieve something better, remember that the 3-year MOU has expired at this point and a return to permanent contractual baseline rates for district contributions has already happened. This agreement did not make it happen; it happened automatically. What this agreement achieves is getting the district to agree to use our LTA calculated (higher) rates as the baseline rather than their calculated (lower) rates. If this agreement is rejected – by our membership, by the School Board, or by the LACOE fiscal advisor – then we will default to the district’s calculated lower contribution rates.
For anyone who wants to track changes in contribution rates (district and employee) over the years, your LTA Bargaining Team has created four charts showing how different plans have developed. The district currently offers a total of 15 different plans and coverage levels; the four shown here are meant to illustrate different trends in health benefit rates.
The blue bars show the district’s contractually required contributions to our health benefits each year, based on a formula in permanent contract language. Note that the district’s contributions have always gone up, but that in recent years the total costs of the plans have gone up faster than the district’s contributions, so the employee share of the costs have increased, too.
The red bars show extra contributions the district made to our health benefits in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. We didn’t negotiate these extra contributions, the district just said they wanted to do something to help out the employees. Ironically, the extra money the district put into health benefits in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 is one of the things that contributed to the deficit we are dealing with, and one of the reasons your LTA Bargaining Team was unable to renew the health benefits MOU this year.
The green bars show the extra contributions the district made for 3 years as a result of the health benefits MOU LTA did negotiate. The MOU raised the minimum district contribution to the point where Kaiser Base employee + 1 was 100% district paid, and then raise the district contribution to all other plans by the same amount.
Finally, the yellow bars show the remaining costs each year that were passed on to employees. Because the district will be returning to contractual contribution levels only in 2019-2020, there will be significant increases passed on to employees in employee + 1 and family plans. (All employee-only plans remain at or near 100% district-paid coverage for 2019-2020.)
On Monday, June 3, your 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), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal), Eric Medrano (SpEd) and Steve Andelson (attorney). This was the first meeting between the two teams this bargaining cycle (the district had previously canceled the first scheduled meeting on Wednesday, May 22 due to unanticipated scheduling conflicts).
Both teams have sunshined a number of articles to negotiate (see below), but the focus of this meeting was on revisiting salary and benefits for 2019-2020, as agreed in the March 5 Agreement. On March 5, the two teams agreed to a 1% one-time, off-schedule salary increase for teachers in 2019-2020 (to be paid in December) and reached no agreement for 2019-2020 on health benefits, but agreed to revisit both topics after the state budget became more clear in May, with the intention of possibly doing better on salary and reaching an agreement on health benefits. Once published, the May Revise of the state budget did not increase funding for K-12 education significantly (pre-K, SpEd and college did see increases), but Governor Newsome is proposing STRS relief to districts. Since 2014, the amount of money that teachers have contributed to their STRS retirement accounts each month has increased, and the amount that districts must contribute has increased even more.
So, while it’s great that our STRS retirement accounts are seeing larger deposits from school districts, it also means that districts have faced large expenses that they haven’t been getting additional money from the state to pay for. Gov. Newsome has proposed “relief” to this situation by slowing the rate of increase districts’ STRS contributions for 2019 and 2020.
|district contribution BEFORE||16.28%||18.13%||19.10%|
|district contribution IN MAY REVISE||16.28%||16.70%||18.10%|
This “relief” would save the Lennox School District approximately $630,000 in 2019-2020 and $440,000 in 2020-2021, which would be just enough to cover the costs of continuing the health benefits MOU for 1 more year (±$600,000 in 2019-2020) and the first year of moving the one-time 1% salary increase from 2019-2020-only to permanent (±$320,000/year in 2020-2021) to permanent. Plus, there is an intrinsic fairness to the proposal; money that was going to go into teachers’ retirements and isn’t anymore should go toward their salary and benefits now.
At this point, the district bargaining team informed your LTA Bargaining Team that questions had been raised regarding the accuracy of the 2nd Interim Budget Report (which your LTA Bargaining Team had used as the basis for their proposals), and that the LA County Office of Education would be appointing a Fiscal Advisor to the district with “stay and rescind” authority, and that further discussions of salary and benefits changes would have to wait until they had a better understanding of the district’s budget. Your LTA Bargaining Team reminded the district that, per the March 5 Agreement, both teams had an obligation to work “in good faith” to resolve salary and benefits issues before June 30, 2019, and that to simply say they couldn’t bargain right now would be a violation of that Agreement and could result in LTA filing an unfair labor practices complaint with the state Public Employee Relations Board (PERB). The district team assured your LTA Bargaining Team that they were making every effort to clarify the district budget situation and would respond to LTA’s proposals as soon as possible.
Articles Sunshined (Opened) by LTA
ARTICLE 6: COMPENSATION & BENEFITS
ARTICLE 9: CLASS SIZE
Articles Sunshined (Opened) by District
ARTICLE 3: ASSOCIATION RIGHTS
ARTICLE 4: GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
ARTICLE 6: COMPENSATION & BENEFITS
ARTICLE 8: ASSIGNMENTS & TRANSFERS
As always, your 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 situation is uncertain and look forward to working with both the district and the LACOE fiscal advisor to find solutions that restore fiscal discipline to district spending without negatively impacting students or teachers. We believe the bargaining process can, with your continued support and participation, result in achieving the result teachers want and students need.
Note 1: The district later provided a copy of the letter from LACOE to the district appointing a fiscal advisor.
Note 2: LACOE later amended its letter to the district regarding the appointment of a fiscal advisor.
Ballots have been cast and results tallied for the 2019 LTA Spring Election. Congratulations to all those who have been elected/re-elected to represent our fantastic Lennox teachers on the LTA Representative Council and our Executive Board! And many thanks to our Elections Chair, Kylie Liu, and the whole Elections Committee for their dedication and quick work.
Buford (2 positions)
Felton (2 positions)
Huerta (2 positions)
Jefferson (2 positions)
Moffett (2 positions)
LMS (4 positions)
SpEd Preschool (1 position)
TOSAs (1 position)
CTA State Council
In addition to our local LTA election, our president, Priscila Avila, has been elected by teachers in 5 school districts/associations to represent Lennox, Lawndale, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach and Ocean Charter School on the CTA State Council. Congratulations, President Avila!
April 17, 2019
As our schools, district and community continue to reel from the shock of the sudden resignation and departure of our (former) superintendent, Kent Taylor, we now look to the Board of Trustees for leadership. It will ultimately fall to the five members of the Board of Trustees to select a new superintendent for the Lennox School District, and this will undoubtedly be a difficult decision, maybe one of the most difficult – but also most important – decisions each of you will make while serving as a Trustee. This will be our 5th superintendent in less than 9 years, and whoever is selected must bring stability, wisdom and experience to our district.
As you all know, Lennox is a unique community and we have unique needs. We all feel urgency in filling the superintendent position so we can continue the important work of educating our students, but I also want to urge the Board not to rush this process. Please, take your time. Advertise the position widely and consider many different candidates from many different backgrounds. Seek stakeholder input to find out what parents, teachers and other district employees hope for in our next superintendent, and allow stakeholders (or at least stakeholder representatives) to be part of the screening and interview process and to go on site visits to talk candidly with people who know and have worked with finalists.
On this point, let me be absolutely clear. As President of the Lennox Teachers Association, representing the dedicated educators who work to do what’s right and what’s best for our students and community every single day, and as an ally and an advocate for our parents who are our partners in education, I must insist that parents, teachers and other district employees be involved in the process of selecting our next superintendent. If he or she is to be welcomed by these different constituencies and seen as the legitimate leader who will guide us into the next decade, stakeholders must have a significant role to play in this process.
Out of change comes opportunity and out of adversity grows unity. Let’s take this next step together and find Lennox the superintendent our students deserve.
President, Lennox Teachers Association