2019 LTA Spring Elections – Announcement of Vacancies

Announcing the following vacancies in Lennox Teachers Association leadership and governance:

Secretary – 2-year term [member of Executive Board]:

  • Is responsible for the formation and distribution of the Association’s calendar of activities;
  • Keeps a careful and accurate roster of the membership of all committees and of meeting attendance;
  • Keeps a careful and accurate record of the proceedings of each meeting, regular or special, of the Association, the Representative Council and Executive Board;
  • Is responsible for the distribution of notices of meetings and of agendas and minutes for all meetings to members of the Representative Council and Executive Board, and to the Membership when appropriate;
  • Maintains the Association’s webpage and monitors/moderates its social media presence; and
  • Carries on correspondence pertaining to the affairs of the Association as directed by the President
  • Stipend = $750/yr.

Treasurer – 2-year term [member of Executive Board]:

  • Receives all funds belonging to the Association and is responsible for their safekeeping and accounting;
  • Pays out such funds upon orders of the President;
  • Prepares a written financial report for each regular meeting of the Representative Council and Executive Board;
  • Is responsible for an annual audit of the books of the Association and distributing a summary of this audit to the Membership;
  • Is responsible for submitting membership and financial reports to CTA, NEA and other agencies as required by law; and
  • Files state and federal tax returns for the Association
  • Stipend = $750/yr.

Site Representatives – 1-year terms (based on formula in the LTA Bylaws, currently = 2 per elementary site, 4 at LMS, 1 at preschool, and 1 for TOSAs for a total of 16 positions) [members of the Representative Council]:

  • Conduct constant and ongoing liaison between the Representative Council and Active members at the school site;
  • Serve as the official channel through which written communications and publications can be easily and quickly transmitted between the Association and the Active members;
  • Represent the views and the input of the Active membership in votes taken in the Representative Council, conducting frequent and regular polls of such membership for this purpose; and
  • Perform such additional duties as prescribed by the Executive Board.
  • Stipend = $200/yr. + an additional $50/yr. if re-elected to consecutive terms after the first.

download Declaration of Candidacy Form

download complete 2019 LTA Spring Elections Timeline and Procedures

download CTA 2018-2019 Local Elections Manual

 

Election deadlines and timeline:

  1. Announcement of vacancy(ies) and term(s) of office using a method that will ensure each member is aware of the opportunity to file a declaration of candidacy: Announcement = Fri, 3/29/19
  2. At least fifteen (15) calendar days between the announcement date of the vacancy(ies) and the date of the election: Election = Thurs, 5/9/19 – Fri, 5/10/19 (40 days after announcement)
  3. Place, time and date of receipt (date received, not date postmarked) for declaration of candidacy forms: Written declarations of candidacy must be received by Kylie Liu at Moffett Elementary by 4pm on Fri, 4/12/19
  4. Final date to acknowledge candidates’ declaration of candidacy: Candidates will be announced on Fri, 4/12/19, no later than 5pm, via the LTA website
  5. Date for preparation of ballots: Ballots will be prepared on Tues, 4/30/19
  6. Date on which ballots will be distributed: Ballots will be distributed to non-running Site Reps and Professional Relations Reps on the morning of Weds, 5/8/19
  7. Date by which to request a ballot: Written requests for mail-in ballots must be received either by Kylie Liu at Moffett Elementary or delivered to the Association post office box [Lennox Teachers Association, PO Box 2231, Hawthorne, CA 90251] by 4pm on Tues, 4/30/19.  Mail-in ballots will be sent via regular mail on Sat, 5/1/19, to those members on dues paying leave who request them by the above deadline
  8. Date(s) when voting will take place: Voting will take place on Thurs, 5/9/19 – Fri, 5/10/19
  9. Deadline date (date received, not date postmarked), time and place for return of ballots: Mail-in ballots must be delivered to the Association post office box [Lennox Teachers Association, PO Box 2231, Hawthorne, CA 90251] by 4pm on Thurs, 5/9/19; Completed ballots cast in person at regular voting sites must be received by Kylie Liu at Moffett Elementary by 3:30pm on Fri, 5/10/19.
  10. Date, time and place where ballots will be counted, which should be immediately following the deadline for receipt of voted ballots: Ballots will be counted on Fri, 5/10/19 at 3:30pm at Moffett Elementary
  11. Date that announcement of results shall be made to leadership, candidates, members, and posted at each work site, which date shall be not later than five (5) calendar days following the counting of ballots: Results will be posted on the LTA website on Fri, 5/10/19, no later than 5pm, and posted at all school sites on LTA bulletin boards on Mon, 5/13/19
  12. Dates and timelines for run-off election, if necessary: Run-off election (if necessary) = Thurs, 5/16/19 – Fri, 5/17/19; Run-off ballots received/counted = Fri, 5/17/19, 3:30pm; Run-off results announced = Fri, 5/17/19, no later than 5pm
  13. Deadline for filing of challenges to initial election and run-off if held (date received, not date postmarked): Written challenges must be filed by Tues, 5/21/19 at 8am with Kylie Liu at Moffett Elementary.

Procedural components include the following:

  1. Method by which Declaration of Candidacy(ies) are submitted (mail, hand delivered, fax): Declarations of candidacy (form) must be received by Kylie Liu at Moffett Elementary by 4pm on Fri, 4/12/19.  Declarations of candidacy (form) may be submitted via e-mail or hand delivery.
  2. Procedure for distributing election guidelines/rules to candidates: Election guidelines and rules will be posted on the LTA website and at all school sites on LTA bulletin boards.
  3. Campaign statement of candidates (decide on limit of number of words, and what to do if limitation is exceeded): Candidate statements will be limited to 50 words or less.  In case a candidate submits a statement exceeding 50 words, only the first 50 words will be included on the Candidates’ Statement sheet.
  4. Method of distribution of ballots: Ballots will be distributed to non-running Site Reps and Professional Relations Reps on the morning of Wed, 5/8/19.  Non-running Site Reps and Professional Relations Reps will make ballots available to members during non-contract hours before school, at lunch and after school on Thurs, 5/9/19 – Fri, 5/10/19; Mail-in ballots will be sent via regular mail on Weds, 5/1/19, to those members on dues paying leave who request them by 4pm on Tues, 4/30/19.  Written requests for mail-in ballots must be received either by Kylie Liu at Moffett Elementary or delivered to the Association post office box [Lennox Teachers Association, PO Box 2231, Hawthorne, CA 90251].
  5. Whether declarations of candidacy must be accompanied by a campaign statement, or whether the statement will be solicited later. If later, a deadline date must be established: Declarations of candidacy must be accompanied by a campaign statement of no more than 50 words, and submitted by the Fri, 4/12/19, 4pm, deadline.
  6. Provision for elections committee chairperson or designee to be present to receive declaration of candidacy by filing deadline: Kylie Liu will be available to receive declarations of candidacy 3:15pm – 4pm on Fri, 4/12/19, at Moffett Elementary.  Declarations (form) may be submitted to Kylie Liu prior to the deadline via e-mail or hand delivery.
  7. Announce that the names are to be listed according to CTA alphabet: Names will be listed according to 2018-2019 CTA alphabet.
  8. If not provided in governance documents, election will be decided by majority vote.  If a candidate does not receive a majority vote, a run-off election shall be conducted between the candidates receiving the highest number of votes.  The names on the ballot will be one (1) more than the number of vacancies to be filled.

For more information on election rules and timelines, including campaign Do’s and Dont’s, please refer to the LTA Bylaws and Standing Rules and the CTA 2018-2019 Local Elections Manual.

Posted in Buford, EBoard, elections, Felton, Huerta, LMS, Moffett, Rep Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 5, 2019 Tentative Agreement Approved!

The March 5, 2019 Tentative Agreement has been approved by the LTA membership!  This TA represents a number of important steps forward for our teachers and students, and is the first step toward achieving even more important goals.

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.

We look forward to a positive AB1200 review by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and speedy approval by the Lennox School District Board of Trustees.

Posted in air quality, bargaining, class size, district budget, dual language, elections, health benefits, IPD, leave, Local Control Funding Formula, planning time, preschool, professional development, RIFs, salary, School Board, special ed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018-2019/2019-2020 Bargaining Update #6

Tentative Agreement Reached

Tuesday, March 3rd, the LTA Bargaining Team – Lisa Rubio (Huerta), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS), Justin Catalan (TOSA), Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), and Bargaining Chair, Brian Guerrero (TOSA) – met with the LSD team – Hiacynth Martinez (Personnel), Kevin Franklin (Fiscal Services), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal) and Steve Andelson (attorney) – for a full session of bargaining.  This was the sixth meeting between the two teams this bargaining cycle and concluded with a successful, signed Tentative Agreement.

LTA pursued a number of objectives based on member input this year during negotiations and this Tentative Agreement achieves many of them – some completely, some partially, and some in the early stages of works-in-progress.  All-in-all, it amounts to a significant step forward for teachers and students and maintains the momentum we have been building over the last few years.  First, we will share specifics regarding what the Tentative Agreement includes, and then, further below, we will provide additional details on district finances and explanations of key features of the Tentative Agreement.

Summary of the March 5, 2019 Tentative Agreement

RIFs/LAYOFFS

  • MOUs #2 and #3 below (Planning Time and Class Sizes) require the district to continue employing addition teachers, so (assuming stable enrollment) the district will need approximately the same number of teachers next year as this year and will, therefore, not issue March 15 RIF notices or consider layoffs.
  • This does not directly apply to teachers on temporary contracts, who have already been given precautionary notices, but it does mean that the district will now be able to offer them positions once staffing needs have been determined for next year.

PERMANENT CONTRACT LANGUAGE

Article 10: Leave Provisions

  • Teachers employed for less than 75% of a full year (for example, new teachers hired after about October 15th) will have their sick leave days prorated based on the number of months they work (i.e., someone who only works for 4 months would only get 4 sick days). Note – This does not apply to teachers on leave.
  • Updated language on Child Bonding Leave to meet new Labor Code requirements. Teachers who have exhausted all accumulated sick leave days and meet California Family Rights Act requirements may choose to remain on leave for the purpose of child bonding for up to 12 weeks and receive sub differential pay or 50% of salary, whichever is greater.

Article 11: Evaluation

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

MOUs

MOU #1 – Professional Development – 1 year

  • 2 paid voluntary professional development days offered in the summer, right before school starts, paid at $395 each. Structure of the days would remain the same (3 hours PD, 3 hours planning time).
  • LTA Instruction and Professional Development Committee (IPD) will give input on what professional development is needed and what topics would benefit teachers most.

MOU #2 – Planning Time – 2 years

  • Maintain current MOU language for an additional 2 years.
    • At elementary, 75% of planning time will continue to be teacher-directed and no more than 25% may be principal-directed.
    • At LMS, teachers will continue to have daily [or once-per-cycle if on block schedule] planning periods.
  • Add language guaranteeing SpEd preschool teachers the same amount of planning time as kindergarten teachers, regardless of PE schedule.

MOU #3 – Class Sizes – 1 year

  • Maintain current MOU grade-span target averages (20:1 in TK-1, 24:1 in 2-3, 27:1 in 4-5, and 29:1 in 6-8) and current over-enrollment maximums in TK-5 (up to +4 additional students).
  • Change over-enrollment stipend structure to:
  • Adjust requirements for over-enrollment stipends: over-enrolled students must be enrolled for 2 or more days, starting after Labor Day, and teacher must be present for at least 50% of the month to qualify.
  • Dual Language/Structured English Immersion – DL and SEI class-size averages will be calculated separately and classes in both programs must follow all class-size and grade-span average requirements.
  • Special Education/Specialized Academic Instruction – At the elementary level, all students with special needs in SAI will be placed on GenEd rosters for the purpose of calculating enrollment and determining class sizes. Note – This does not dictate the % of SpEd services students will receive, just which roster they’ll be on.

MOU #4 – Salary – 1 year

  • Teachers employed by the district as of November 30, 2019 will receive a one-time, off-schedule salary increase of 1%, to be paid in December 2019 (but see MOU #5 below).

MOU #5 – Re-Openers – 1 year

  • Upon ratification of the Tentative Agreement by the membership of LTA and the School Board, the Association and district will immediately resume negotiations on salary, benefits and class sizes for the 2019-2020 school year, with the goal of reaching further agreement on salary and benefits by June 30, 2019.

MOU #6 – School Safety – 1 year

  • District will replace classroom air filters 2 times/year using MERV 8 air filters rated for a minimum of 6 months heavy usage or 1 time/year using MERV 9 air filters rated for a minimum of 12 months heavy usage; 12-month air filters will still be checked after 6 months of use to ensure proper functioning. District and Association will review air filter performance at the end of the year and consider possible permanent language changes.

As you know, our bargaining priorities this year have been renewing our 4 expiring MOUs with the district on paid voluntary PD, planning time, class sizes and health benefits, as well as trying to secure for teachers the salary increase they deserve.  Failure to renew either the planning time or class size MOUs would have resulted in disastrous layoffs, sky rocketing elementary class sizes and the loss of the planning period LMS teachers have benefited so much from for the last 5 years.  The challenge is and always has been that the district’s reserves were depleted during years of recession and then were never restored because the district chose to rebuild structures and develop new programs, and that, once LCFF was fully-funded last year, the district is getting very little “new” money this year.  The state economy is strong and Gov. Newsom’s proposed state budget for 2019-2020 directs considerable funds toward education, but those go primarily toward early education (preschool and school readiness), special education and community colleges, with not a lot of additional money going toward K-12, and much of what does go toward K-12 will get eaten up by districts’ increasing obligation to STRS and PERS contributions (currently equal to 17.1% and 20.7% of employees’ salaries, although there is a proposal to halt STRS contribution increases for 2 years, which would free up funds equal to about a 1% salary increase… but that proposal hasn’t been approved yet and districts aren’t  allowed to put it in their budget projections yet).

Another new “twist” on the state budget and negotiation this year is the increasingly active role the LA County Office of Education (LACOE) is playing.  In the past, LACOE had to give school districts a positive budget certification if they could show 3%+ reserves for the current year and 2 years into the future.  But after the passage of AB 1840 last year to help bail out Inglewood and Oakland school districts, county offices of education statewide received new oversight powers and can now negatively certify school districts for a number of reasons, including deficit spending (spending more in a year than the district brings in), AND a negative certification now gives county offices the authority to come in and dictate aspects of school districts’ budgets, taking away local control.  In Lennox’s case, LACOE sent the Supt. and School Board a letter in January approving the district’s First Interim Budget report but stating that, in order to receive a positive certification on the Second Interim Budget in March, Lennox would have to: 1) increase its reserves beyond 3%, 2) not deficit spend for any of the years in the 3-year projections, and 3) avoid transferring money between accounts to cover expenses while waiting for state payments to other accounts.  Those restrictions, particularly #2 (no deficit spending) have severely limited the district’s ability to make long-term financial commitments.  The district has decided to end its experiment with the Virtual Academy in its current form, which means the 2020-2021 budget will show a drop in enrollment of almost 250 students and a corresponding loss of revenues (about $1.5 million); reserves will be strong by 2020-2021 (over 8%) but decreased revenues will only leave a positive fund balance of about $325,000.  So, given LACOE’s prohibition on deficit spending in the out years, even though the district’s reserves will be much healthier, LTA was forced to scale back some of our more expensive, long-term demands like further improving class sizes or making planning time a permanent part of the contract.  Likewise, the district could not commit to any on-going, permanent salary increases or continuing the current health benefits MOU at this time, but MOU #5 allows LTA to reopen negotiations on salary and benefits for next year this year before we even go to summer vacation.  We will be able to take advantage of any improvements in the final state budget when we talk about salary again (when things like the proposed reduced STRS contribution increases become bankable facts rather than just possibilities) and actually know next year’s insurance rates when we discuss benefits.

Focusing, then, on teachers’ other top priorities (thank you, again, to everyone who responded to surveys or talked to us during a school visit), the LTA Bargaining Team was able to ensure that class sizes didn’t revert to the across-the-board 29:1 in permanent contract language.  As we discussed during our last round of school visits, further reducing class sizes beyond what we have in the current MOU is challenging because too-tight restrictions will force the district to open grade-level combo classes in order to meet class-size limits and – especially with the loss of Virtual Academy enrollment – the district is unwilling to risk losing new students by turning them away from their schools of choice.  Fine tuning enrollment policies and trying to push class sizes down further is going to be an on-going project and an on-going conversation between teachers and the district over the next several years.  The LTA Bargaining Team was able to fine tune the over-enrollment stipend structure to better compensate those teachers and classes that are most impacted by over-enrollment, and gains regarding Dual Language and Special Education were hard-fought and long sought by teachers.  With regard to Dual Language, because the program restricts schools’ ability to distribute students evenly across a grade-level, situations sometimes arose where some classes (sometimes DL classes, sometimes SEI classes) would be much larger than classes at the same grade-level in the other program.  LTA has been demanding for years that class sizes in the two programs be calculated separately, first, so that the problem isn’t masked by overall averages, and second, so that whatever solutions that are offered (like additional teachers or even just over-enrollment stipends) can be allocated fairly.  We’ve had both DL and SEI teachers present to the School Board on this topic, we’ve presented district with detailed statistics on how the current practice of lumping the two programs together is unfair to students and teachers, and we’ve made bargaining demands for years, and this year the LTA Bargaining Team was finally able to get the district to agree to calculate class size averages in the two programs separately.

With regard to Special Education, as the district has (appropriately) sought to increase the amount of time students with special needs spend in General Education classrooms, the impact of these students on elementary class sizes has increasingly been felt.  Historically, if a student’s IEP said that he or she was to spend more than 50% of his/her day in GenEd, then he/she was listed on the GenEd teacher’s roster.  But in the Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) model, more students who didn’t quite reach the 50% threshold are spending significant amounts of time in GenEd classes.  This is fantastic, but if these SAI students are not on GenEd teachers’ rosters, a number of negative things can happen.  Socially, despite teachers’ best efforts, it can be hard for SAI students to be “part of” the GenEd class – they aren’t included in counts by the office so they don’t always get notes and letters home sent to their GenEd class, they aren’t always included in book counts or field trip plans, they might miss out on assemblies or library time or computer lab, etc.  If the goal of inclusion is to place students in the least restrictive environment possible, they also need to be part of GenEd classroom communities, and that is more likely when they are on GenEd teachers’ rosters.  With regard to class sizes, if students aren’t on their GenEd teacher’s roster, then no space is reserved for them when the office builds classes and enrolls students, so a class might be filled to the grade-span average, or even over-enrolled to class size maximums… and then additional students push in.  Ironically, the students who often need the most individual attention can end up in some of the largest classes.  As with Dual Language, we’ve had both SpEd and GenEd teachers present to the School Board on this topic, we’ve presented district with detailed statistics on how the current practice of not placing all students on GenEd rosters is unfair to SAI students and teachers, and we’ve made bargaining demands in the past, and this year the LTA Bargaining Team was finally able to get the district to agree to put all SAI students on GenEd rosters.  Please, note, that this agreement does not attempt to dictate what percentage of SpEd vs. GenEd services students receive – that continues to be the purview SpEd teachers and SpEd teams and is based on the needs of each student; it only concerns rostering and enrollment practices and the calculation of class size averages.

The LTA Bargaining Team was not able reach an agreement with the district yet regarding the way SpEd enrollment is handled at the middle school, but “class sizes” is the 3rd element of MOU #5 that LTA will re-open and continue negotiating immediately after this Tentative Agreement is approved.  Right now, when the district calculates average class sizes at the middle school, it simply adds up all the students and divides by all the teachers, without regard for the fact that some of those students are in necessarily small SAI classes or that some of those teachers are SpEd teachers pushing into GenEd classes or co-teaching with a GenEd partner.  This has the negative effect of increasing class sizes for everyone else, depending on the period, sometimes by as much as 2-3 students per class!  Again, students with special needs deserve small classes where they can get the attention and accommodations they need, but GenEd students and teachers shouldn’t have to pay for that with larger GenEd classes.  LTA has proposed that average class sizes at LMS should be calculated excluding SAI and Functional Skills classes and teachers and that SpEd co-teachers should not be counted against class size averages because their role isn’t to teach 50% of the class, it’s to support the needs of SAI students.  The LTA Bargaining Team will continue working on this issue this spring and as long as necessary until we achieve a fair and equitable method of calculating class sizes at the middle school that meets the needs of students with special needs and their teachers as well as the needs of GenEd students and teachers.

By reaching an agreement now on class sizes and planning time (as well as professional development and the district’s proposals for minor changes to Leave and Evaluation language and the way air filter changes are handled), the LTA Bargaining Team was able to achieve another priority in this year’s negotiations – avoiding RIFs and layoff notices.  As LTA President Priscilla Avila stated in her recent message to the membership, the LTA Bargaining Team was highly motivated to reach an agreement with the district and avoid putting teachers through the stress and anxiety of an unnecessary RIF process caused by uncertainty regarding staffing levels next year.  As she also stated, we hoped to reach an agreement last Tuesday, but were not willing to do so at the expense of giving up on important bargaining objectives.  We believe we have achieved those goals with this Tentative Agreement.  This Tentative Agreement secures the planning period at LMS and the amount of teacher-directed planning time at the elementary level for another two years.  It maintains the current smaller class sizes and makes major improvements to the way the district handles the Dual Language program and the rostering of students with special needs.  It continues to provide teachers with the opportunity for paid voluntary professional development, paid at a higher rate, and planned with more teacher input.  It guarantees teachers a small pay increase for next year, and more importantly, it leaves the door open to improve on this pay increase, and/or to make it permanent if the state and district budgets improve, and to continue negotiating improved health benefits for next year.  The LTA Bargaining Team has worked tirelessly to research and analyze and write proposals and counterproposals on complicated issues like enrollment policy, class sizes and district and state budgets.  While not 100% satisfied with every part of the Tentative Agreement, negotiations is a process of argument and compromise and the LTA Bargaining Team is in unanimous agreement that this is overall a good deal that benefits students and teachers and is the best deal we could reach at this time and in this economic environment.  And for those topics where we are less satisfied with the outcomes… negotiations reopen immediately upon approval of this Tentative Agreement.

Now that a Tentative Agreement has been reached, the next step is for teachers and the School Board to review the details and vote to approve it.  The county office of education will also have to review the Tentative Agreement and certify that it is sustainable and won’t cause the district any future financial hardship, a process called an “AB1200 review.  The LTA Bargaining Team will hold information meetings at each school site over the next two weeks to answer members’ questions about the Tentative Agreement and provide additional insight into the negotiations process.  The information meeting schedule will be as follows:

  • Jefferson – Monday, March 11, 3:15 PM
  • LMS – Tuesday, March 12, 3:15 PM
  • Felton – Wednesday, March 13, 3:15 PM
  • Moffett – Friday, March 15, 3:00 PM
  • Buford – Monday, March 18, 3:15 PM
  • Huerta – Tuesday, March 19, 3:15 PM

Voting to ratify the Tentative Agreement will be conducted at school sites Thursday, March 21st through Friday, March 22nd.  Votes will be counted and results announced/posted the evening of Friday, March 22nd.

download LTA proposals (3/5/19)

download district proposals (3/5/19)

download March 5, 2019 Tentative Agreement

download LTA Bargaining Update #6

Posted in air quality, bargaining, class size, district budget, dual language, evaluations, health benefits, IPD, leave, Local Control Funding Formula, planning time, preschool, professional development, RIFs, salary, special ed, state budget | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018-2019/2019-2020 Bargaining Update #5

Summary

  • District shared additional specifics of air filters it would like to use and change on a 6-month schedule.
  • LTA presented counterproposals on paid voluntary PD and planning time and a new initial proposal on class sizes. LTA also presented a proposal on health benefits and advised the district that LTA would make a proposal on a fair and reasonable salary increase for teachers once more information on state and district budgets for 2019-2020 was available.
  • District presented proposals on prorating new teacher sick days, evaluation notification dates, and air filter change cycles, counterproposals on paid voluntary PD and planning time, and asked for more time to analyze LTA’s proposal on class sizes.

Full Report

On Monday, February 11th, the LTA Bargaining Team – Lisa Rubio (Huerta), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS), Justin Catalan (TOSA), Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), and Bargaining Chair, Brian Guerrero (TOSA) – met with the LSD team – Hiacynth Martinez (Personnel), Kevin Franklin (Fiscal Services), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal) and Steve Andelson (attorney) – for a full day of bargaining.  This was the fifth meeting between the two teams this bargaining cycle.

The meeting began with another discussion of air filters with Dir. of Facilities Carlos Avalos.  Avalos shared that the district currently uses “MERV 8” filters rated for 3 months of heavy usage (“MERV” = “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value,” an industry-wide standard measurement scale developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers to rate the effectiveness of air filters).  They would like to switch to MERV 8 filters rated for 6-9 months of heavy usage and change them every 6 months.  The district’s supplier also offered a MERV 9 filter rated for 12 months of heavy usage, which would mean an overall increase in air quality but would be cost prohibitive on a 6-month change cycle.

Next, the LTA Bargaining Team presented the district with counterproposals on voluntary professional development (MOU #1) and planning time (MOU #2), and a new initial proposal on class sizes (MOU #3).  LTA continues to believe that, given district professional development needs, offering teachers 4 paid voluntary PD days per year is appropriate.  LTA also believes that, after 5 years of experience, the current models of planning and collaboration time at the elementary level and middle school have proven effective and should be made permanent through formal contract language.

Regarding class sizes, after thorough analysis of next year’s projected enrollment numbers and careful consideration of multiple models of smaller class sizes, the LTA Bargaining Team acknowledges that it will be neither easy nor cheap to further reduce class sizes, and, therefore, has made a comprehensive proposal to gradually reduce the upper limits of class sizes over the next 3 years.  In Year 1 (2019-2020), LTA’s proposal would reduce maximum class sizes by 1 student but gives teachers the option of allowing 1 additional student if she or he believes it can be done effectively, with proper support, and is in the best interest of her/his students and the school.  In Year 2 (2020-2021), LTA’s proposal would reduce maximum class sizes by 2 students from current levels and still gives teachers the option of allowing 1 additional student, and in Year 3 (2021-2022), it firmly caps maximum class sizes at 2 students below current levels with no provision for additional students.  LTA’s proposal also shifts the current over-enrollment stipend structure, eliminating stipends for classes that are only 1 student over MOU target averages and increasing stipends for classes at maximum capacity.  Further, LTA’s proposal includes several program-specific components that teachers have been demanding for years: averaging DL and SEI class sizes separately, and making sure that both meet class-size average requirements; including all elementary students in SAI on GenEd rosters so that classes aren’t filled to capacity only to have additional SAI students added on top of that; factoring out SpEd classes and SpEd teachers from GenEd class size-average calculations at the middle school because they skew the math and push GenEd class size averages up; and making sure there are enough adults supporting elementary PE to maintain program integrity and student safety by asking for 1 adult (teacher and aides) for each class that is out at PE at a given time.  Finally, no one wants grade-level combo classes (including the district) but the LTA Bargaining Team feels it would be wise to include language regarding what supports teachers and students would get just in case combo classes become unavoidable at some point.

The LTA Bargaining Team also presented the district with a proposal on health benefits (MOU #4) to maintain district contributions at the current levels for 3 more years.  Given that the cost of this proposal has been estimated as equivalent to a 2% salary increase, there will need to be ongoing discussion and much more input from teachers about the value of increased health benefits versus the value of a salary increase before any final agreement on health benefits with the district can be reached, but this proposal communicates to the district the importance of improved health benefits to members.  Likewise, the LTA Bargaining Team reminded the district that, as the state and district budgets for 2019-2020 become clearer, LTA will also present a proposal on a fair and reasonable salary increase for teachers.

LTA Proposals/Counterproposals

MOU #1 – Paid Voluntary PD

  • Maintain the current MOU language (i.e., 4 paid voluntary PD days, 2 in summer and 2 on Saturdays in fall/winter; 3 hours PD, 3 hours planning time; paid at $350 each) for an additional 3 years. [no agreement, district offers 2 days for 1 year only]
  • LTA Instruction and Professional Development Committee (IPD) should give input on what professional development is needed and what topics would benefit teachers most. [tentative consensus reached]

MOU #2 – Planning Time, Elementary and Middle School

  • Maintain the current MOU language (i.e., at elementary, 75% of planning time would continue to be teacher-directed and no more than 25% can be principal-directed, and at LMS, teachers would continue to have a daily [or once-per-cycle if on block schedule] planning period) for an additional 3 years. [no agreement, district offers current language for 1 year only]
  • Add language guaranteeing SpEd preschool teachers the same amount of planning time as kindergarten teachers. [tentative consensus reached]
  • Move planning time, both elementary and middle school, to the Contract as permanent language. [district rejects]

MOU #3 – Class Sizes

  • 3-year plan – Year 1: Decrease maximum class size by 1 student from current maximums, but give teachers the flexibility to accept 1 additional student; Year 2: Decrease maximum class size by 2 students from current maximums, teachers still have the flexibility to accept 1 additional student; Year 3: Decrease maximum class size by 2 students from current maximums, no additional students.
  • Shift the current over-enrollment stipend structure, eliminating stipends for classes that are only 1 student over MOU target averages and increasing stipends for classes at maximum capacity (+2 student = $200, +3 student = $250, +4 student = $300).
  • Adjust requirements for over-enrollment stipends – over-enrolled students must be enrolled for 2 or more days, starting after Labor Day, and teacher must be present for at least 50% of the month to qualify.
  • DL/SEI – DL and SEI class-size averages will be calculated separately and classes in both programs must meet all class-size average requirements.
  • SpEd – At elementary, all students in SAI will be on GenEd rosters for the purpose of enrollment and determining class sizes. At middle school, all SpEd classes (SAI, SDC, FS) will be excluded from the calculation of GenEd class-size averages, as will SpEd teachers in co-teaching assignments.
  • Elementary PE – 1 adult (teacher and aides) for each class out at PE at any given time.
  • Combo Classes – Identify supports now: volunteers first, no teachers with less than 3 years experience; class size determined by the lower grade level and no over enrollment; teacher helps select students; full-time aide; $7,500 stipend (equal to the maximum proposed over-enrollment stipend).

MOU #4 – Health Benefits

  • Maintain the current MOU language as-is (i.e., district would continue to offer one Employee + 1 plan 100% district-paid and would continue to contribute that same $ amount to all other plans) for an additional 3 years. [no agreement]

download LTA proposals (2/11/19)

After considering LTA’s proposals, the district team returned with counterproposals of their own.  First, they presented formal language on prorating the number of sick days teachers employed for less than a full year would receive, as well as on notifying teachers of evaluation by the end of the 3rd week of school rather than the end of the 2nd week, and on changing air filters 2 times per year rather than 4 times per year.  On MOU #1, the district team proposed as single day of paid voluntary PD consisting of 2 PD sessions and no planning time.  When the LTA Bargaining Team pointed out that this was less than they had offered in December, the district team withdrew their proposal and agreed to revert to their December proposal (2 days paid voluntary PD, ½ day PD and ½ day planning time each, for 2019-2020 only).  On MOU #2, the district team repeated their offer to continue elementary and middle school planning time as is, but only as a 1-year MOU for 2019-2020.  Finally, the district team said they would need additional time to analyze the costs and other ramifications of the changes LTA was proposing to class sizes.  As no additional information on the state or district budgets is expected until at least April, the two teams have scheduled their next bargaining sessions for Wednesday, April 3rd and Thursday, May 9th.

LSD Proposals/Counterproposals

Article 10: Leave Provisions

  • Teachers employed for than a full year (new hires after the start of the year, for example) will have the number of sick days they receive prorated for the number of months they work. [tentative consensus reached]

Article 11: Evaluation

  • Change evaluation notification deadline from the end of the 2nd week of the work year to the end of the 3rd [tentative consensus reached]

Article 12: Safety Conditions

  • Change requirement to replace air filters from 4 times/year to 2 times/year using air filters rated for 6-9 months. [work in progress]

MOU #1 – Paid Voluntary PD

  • Reduce the number of paid voluntary PD days to 1, in summer, with 2 PD sessions and no planning time. [withdrawn]
  • Reduce the number of paid voluntary PD days to 2, both in summer, and eliminate the 2 paid voluntary PD days on Saturdays in fall/winter; 1-year MOU (rather than a 3-year MOU as proposed by LTA). [no agreement]

MOU #2 – Planning Time, Elementary and Middle School

  • Extend the current MOU for 1 year (rather than making planning time permanent as proposed by LTA). [no agreement]

download district proposals (2/11/19)

As always, the LTA Bargaining Team is committed to improving the learning environment for students and the working conditions for teachers.  We understand the district’s budget constraints and applaud the ongoing cost-cutting efforts.  We believe the bargaining process can, with members’ continued support and participation, result in achieving the results teachers want and students need.

download LTA proposals (2/11/19)

download district proposals (2/11/19)

download LTA Bargaining Update #5

Posted in air quality, bargaining, class size, district budget, dual language, evaluations, health benefits, IPD, leave, planning time, preschool, professional development, RIFs, salary, special ed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018-2019/2019-2020 Bargaining Update #4

Summary

  • District shared information on the higher quality air filters it would like to use and change on a 6-month schedule.
  • District shared information on the current cost to the district of the health benefits MOU, approximately double what it had anticipated when agreeing to the MOU in 2016. The continuation of this MOU is NOT assumed in the district’s multi-year projections and would have to be negotiated.
  • District shared the most current budget information. District recently revised the budget at the request of LACOE, further reducing spending (primarily by reducing the allocations for outside contracts, leaving some currently vacant classified positions vacant, and changing the funding source for most security contracts from the General Fund to bond funds).  Beside satisfying LACOE, this has actually increased the district’s reserve estimates for the next 3 years.
  • The LTA and district teams discussed options and challenges in further reducing elementary class sizes and alternatives to the current system of over-enrollment allowances and stipends. The main challenge is that the tighter the restrictions are on the district and the less flexibility they have to exceed class-size average targets, the more likely it is that they will have to create multi-grade combo classes, which everyone recognizes would be very challenging to teach.
  • No formal proposals were exchanged at this session.

Full Report

On Friday, January 25th, the LTA Bargaining Team – Lisa Rubio (Huerta), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS), Justin Catalan (TOSA), Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), and Bargaining Chair, Brian Guerrero (TOSA) – met with the LSD team – Hiacynth Martinez (Personnel), Kevin Franklin (Fiscal Services), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal) and Steve Andelson (attorney) – for a half day of bargaining.  This was the fourth meeting between the two teams this bargaining cycle.

The meeting began with the district sharing information it owed LTA from previous meetings about air filters and the cost to the district of the current MOU on health benefits.  With regard to air filters, Dir. of Facilities Carlos Avalos joined the meeting and explained that what the district would like to do is move from using moderate-quality air filters (costing approx. $3 each) that have to be changed every 3 months to using high-quality air filters rated for 12 months of moderate use (8 hours/day) or 9 months of heavy use (24 hours/day, like in offices and hospitals; costing approx. $5-7 each).  The district feels there would be an overall cost savings along with an improvement in air quality.  It would also free up custodian and maintenance team time for other projects and would enable them to do more routine maintenance and cleaning of air conditioning units (and ducts) rather than just rushing to swap out filters.  Avalos will supply the LTA Bargaining Team with documentation and technical specifications on the existing filters versus the proposed new filters in the next week.

With regard to the current MOU on health benefits (which shifts the 100%-district-paid plan from Kaiser Plus employee only to Kaiser Base employee+1, and then raises the district contribution to all other plans to the same level), when this 3-year MOU was negotiated in 2016, the district estimated that the cost would be approximately equivalent to a 1% salary increase and LTA opted for the benefits increase along with a slightly smaller salary increase (+2%; CSEA, by the way, chose not to go with the benefits increase and took a +3% salary increase instead.  The LTA Bargaining Team still feels LTA made the right choice because this MOU has saved most members between $2,000 and $3,500/year).  Now, looking back, the district estimates that the actual cost to the district of the MOU has been closer to the equivalent of a +2% salary increase, mostly because of the large number of employees who switched to the now-free Kaiser Base employee+1 plan to insure previously-uninsured family members.  This is a wonderful thing, but it does mean that if we are going to want to continue this MOU, now that the district has a better idea of the true cost, it will be a more expensive trade.

IMPORTANT CORRECTION – In Bargaining Update #3, the LTA Bargaining Team reported that the district’s multi-year projections included cost assumptions as if all 4 MOUs would continue and still allowed the district to increase its reserves.  In discussions with the district on January 25th, it was clarified that only MOU cost assumptions included in the MYPs are MOU staffing levels, i.e., that class sizes and number of teachers would remain about the same and that planning time at elementary schools and LMS (and the number of additional teachers needed to make this possible) would remain about the same.  The continuation of other non-staffing costs – the voluntary paid PD MOU and the increased health benefits MOU – are NOT included in the current MYPs.

Next, the district provided an update on the budget.  When the district submitted its First Interim Budget Report to LACOE in December, LACOE returned it and requested revisions.  Among other things, the county disallowed the way the district had amortized the cost of several large purchases (like the 2016 ELA textbook adoption) over several years.  This practice had been allowed by the county in previous years, and assuming the full cost of these purchases now, all in one year, left a $900,000 hole in the district budget.  As previously reported, the district’s reserves for this year were estimated at 3% (the legal minimum) and a $900,000 hole would have dropped them to less than 2%, so immediate action was required on the part of the district and School Board.  The School Board met on January 9th and passed a resolution trimming the 2018-2019 district budget by another $1.2 million, pushing the reserves back up over 3% and satisfying LACOE.  The Board trimmed the budget in 3 ways:

    • Reduction in contracted services, books and supplies – The district looked at all open contracts with outside vendors and service providers. In some cases, they canceled contracts for redundant services or contracts for service and programs that weren’t returning enough benefit, and in other cases they reduced the allocated amounts on contracts which may have been overestimated (most contracts are written as costing “up to” a certain amount.  That “up to” amount may never be reached, and most contracts don’t end up costing as much as they could if they were maxed out, but that full amount is “encumbered” in the budget as long as it is authorized under the contract.  By lowering the “up to”s on a number of contracts, the district un-“encumbered” some money, releasing it back into the General Fund).
    • By the way, the LTA Bargaining Team heard some concerns from members who have looked at the district budget about line 5800, “Professional/Consulting Services and Operating Expenses.”  In the original July budget it estimated about $5.2 million in line 5800 spending this year, reduced to about $3.9 million by the First Interim, and then further reduced to about $3.5 million with the January 9th resolution.  The LTA team asked Kevin Franklin why line 5800 seemed so high.  He explained that, although the title of this line says “consults,” line 5800 really includes a lot more than just consultants; line 5800 is where all costs associated with programs and people who are not actual employees of the district go, things like: translation and interpreting services; extra crossing guards and sheriff patrols above and beyond what the county provides; Raptor (visitor ID check system), SchoolDude (maintenance and tech work order system), PeopleSoft (LACOE’s budgeting, purchasing and HR software system) and other systems the district is required to use; ASCIP safety programs, CPR classes and liability insurance; programs schools bring in like Playworks (playground coaching), guest art teachers and coding classes, and non-Title I assemblies; SWUN math coaching, AVID and LMU trainings, and curriculum/program consultants; college fieldtrips; as well as attorney and auditors’ fees.  CTA staff person, Andrew Staiano, confirmed afterwards that line 5800 does normally include a lot more than just “consultants,” that both the programs/people Lennox is spending on and the amounts Lennox is spending are typical of districts in the area, and that Lennox actually spends a lot of money on direct services to students versus “behind-the-scenes“ office type support.
    • Reduction in staff due to vacancies – The district isn’t laying anyone off but they are (at least temporarily) not filling a few vacant classified positions.
    • Transfer of security costs and technology lease agreements to bond funds – In addition to LMS security staff, who are actual Lennox School District employees, the district contracts additional security for each campus during the day and after school and pays the Sheriff’s Dept. for additional patrols in the community after school as students walk home. This is usually paid for out of the General Fund, but to cut General Fund costs in response to LACOE, the district will pay for most security this year with monies from existing voter-approved bonds instead (Measure CL, specifically; the Measure CL bond authorization was always written to allow money to be spent on security, the district just hasn’t used it for that purpose in the past).  The LTA Bargaining Team asked, if money can be freed up by paying for security with bond money this year, why can’t security always be paid for with bond money?  The district responded that 1) this will delay some technology purchases the district was planning on making later in the year.  Delaying those purchase won’t cause too many problems, but if security were always paid for with bond money, those technology purchases would be in jeopardy.  And 2) the School Board feels that using bond money, which the community subsidizes through their property taxes, to pay for school security is like double taxing them because they already pay taxes to support the Sheriff’s Dept. and other county services.  So this is intended to be a 1-year short-term solution only.

Overall, if the district can tighten contracts and free up additional money for General Fund as planned, without reducing staff, cutting beneficial programs or significantly impacting classrooms, this whole process should end up being a net positive for the district and our contract negotiations.  The district’s 3-year estimates of their reserves have now gone from 3.01% in 2018-2019, 6.14% in 2019-2020 and 6.45% in 2020-2021 to 3.65% in 2018-2019, 7.44% in 2019-2020 and 8.13% in 2020-2021.  Not a huge increase, but every little bit helps.

The rest of the bargaining session was spent discussing options and challenges in further reducing elementary class sizes and alternatives to the current system of over-enrollment allowances and stipends.  The LTA Bargaining Team reiterated that teachers feel the current over-enrollment allowances have gone from being an occasional remedy as they were originally intended to the new normal and an unfair burden on students and teachers.  The two teams then shared a number of possible ways to modify the current system (brainstorming, NOT proposing), including:

      • No overage flexibility, the district must meet all grade-level span averages with no exceptions;
      • Continuing to allow some flexibility, but lowering the cap on over-enrollment to +2 or +3 students over the target averages instead of the current +4;
      • Continuing to allow some flexibility, but having different caps on over-enrollment at different grade spans, or at different time points in the school year, or different caps for classes for continuing students who promote from one year to the next versus new enrollees;
      • Increasing grade-span average targets by +1 at all grade levels;
      • Allowing the district to calculate grade-span averages as a district rather than at each school, or in 2 grade-spans (TK-3 and 4-5) rather than the current 3 (TK-1, 2-3 and 4-5);
      • Maintaining the current over-enrollment stipend system but with a later start date, or with different triggers (like over-enrollment for at least 2 day instead of just 1 day);
      • Maintaining the current over-enrollment stipend system but with increased over-enrollment stipends;
      • Replacing over-enrollment stipends with other non-stipend ways to compensate teachers for additional students, like additional paid time for planning and grading, extra money for classroom budgets, or additional aide time to help with instruction;
      • As well as considering the impacts of implementing the Class-Size Committee’s recommendations on calculating the average class sizes of DL and SEI classes separately.

Each of these ideas could help bring down elementary class sizes, but each could have other consequences, too, some positive and some negative.  Declining enrollment remains a danger.  While enrollment in Lennox has been steady, enrollments in several neighboring districts has begun to decline.  We wouldn’t want a “solution” to the class-size issue that turns away new students and puts Lennox on a similar downward path.  Likewise, one probable result of taking away all flexibility with regard to class sizes would be forcing the district to form multi-grade combo classes.  At some point, in some situations, combo class may be mathematically impossible to avoid, but we need to think carefully before implementing any “solutions” that make combos more likely.  The LTA Bargaining Team is carefully analyzing current enrollment, what enrollment will look like next year when students advance a grade, and what class sizes may look like next year under different models of class sizes, class-size averages and over-enrollment.  The team’s goal is to continue working the math, considering different possibilities (including district suggestions), and make a formal proposal to the district on a successor class-size MOU at the next bargaining session.  Please, feel free to reach out to members of the Bargaining Team or the Site Reps to share your thoughts and continue the conversation on the best ways to maintain (and improve) the small class sizes that students and teachers deserve.

The LTA Bargaining Team did not respond to the district’s counterproposals on planning time or voluntary paid PD at this time.  Responses will be presented at the next bargaining session.

As always, the LTA Bargaining Team is committed to improving the learning environment for students and the working conditions for teachers.  We understand the district’s budget constraints and applaud the ongoing cost-cutting efforts.  We believe the bargaining process can, with members’ continued support and participation, result in achieving the results teachers want and students need.  The two teams have scheduled their next bargaining session for Monday, February 11.

Members of the LTA Bargaining Team will visit each campus during lunch sometime in the next 2 weeks to provide teachers with an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the bargaining process in person.  The schedule of visits will be:

    • Buford – Thursday, January 31, 11 am – 1 pm
    • Jefferson – Monday, February 4, 11 am – 1 pm
    • LMS – Tuesday, February 5, 11 am – 1 pm
    • Moffett – Wednesday, February 6, 11 am – 1 pm
    • Huerta – Thursday, February 7, 11 am – 1 pm
    • Felton – Friday, February 8, 11 am – 1 pm

download LTA Bargaining Update #4

Posted in air quality, bargaining, class size, district budget, dual language, health benefits, planning time, professional development, salary, School Board, school bond, special ed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment