Before I get into all the issues and events from this past week, I first have two asks:
Other major concerns REA is continuing to work on and advocate around (beyond individual member concerns) focus mostly on issues around the District moving the CTP program and many other staff to the Four Corners location, and workload/caseload issues, mostly for SLPs and others in the Special Education department. Our goal is to address these issues to the best of our ability via the Substitute MOU, which is still in the works. Please watch the Bargaining Updates page for any developments on the Substitute MOU and on an In-Person MOU. We have proposed language which will re-open access to the COVID sick leave bank. In the meantime, if you are out with COVID, please make sure to mark your absence as COVID-related in iVisions.
A Bit of Hope
For this week’s update, I want to focus on some positives and share some points of hopefulness for the 2022-2023 school year. We are just now wrapping up the first full week of class, and it appears much of the chaos and disruptions faced when we first returned last year, has ebbed. That is not to say everything has returned to “normal” or that everything is great. All of us continue to face difficulties beyond those of several years ago and some buildings and staff are struggling more than others as the result of staffing shortages, bussing concerns, and more. But this year does show promise in a way we never saw throughout the course of the past two years.
Over the summer, REA leadership worked on finding avenues for a better relationship with the District and School Board. That is not to say we have forgotten about the issues surrounding the vote of no confidence, of what most staff rightly recognize as serious concerns with communication, or any of the many other issues we face. Simply, we are working on improving the relationship so we can better meet member and student needs.
In this effort, REA leadership and School Board Directors are meeting informally in small groups twice each month. These gatherings consist of 2-3 REA leaders and 2-3 Board Directors at each meet-up. The goal is to enhance communication between us. These informal meet-ups create an space for REA to discuss at length issues as they happen, and to give the Board a head’s up so they are not surprised by them through public to be heard. It also gives Board Directors room to ask questions of REA, get clarification on issues, and to hear clearly REA's understanding of difficulties facing educators, students, and the District at large. To date, we have held five of these gatherings.
Additionally, the October 12 School Board Work Session hopes to focus on public discussions between REA, OSEA, and the entire School Board. While I do not yet have an agenda for this--and am honestly unsure how it will look--the current goal is to hold two of these a year.
REA Leadership also met with the majority of the District Cabinet and leaders over dinner at Dr. Diaz’s house. This gave us all an opportunity to meet as there are a lot of new faces in both REA Leadership and in the District office.
Lastly, I want to regularly give some shout-outs to members for all the amazing work you do throughout the District and for the Union. Please click here and complete the form if you have some positive news to share that I could possibly include in a future Union Update.
This week we welcome students back from their summer break and kick off the 2022-2023 school year. While this should be a time for joy, REA leadership is aware that for many, this excitement of meeting our new students is mixed with trepidations. This past week many of us have faced numerous difficulties: dis-functioning HVAC (a problem facing 40% of public schools nationally), confusion around appliances and fire codes, the mad scramble to fully furnish your classroom or office so it is set up to meet student needs, and more.
We are also aware of issues facing many of you as students return this week: lack of full curriculum, oversized caseloads, unfilled vacancies in their building (classified and certified, and more.
While I cannot promise all these difficulties will be resolved quickly, REA leadership is working to protect members and help everyone get what they need. You deserve it and our students deserve it.
In the coming days, look for an update on the Bargaining Blog regarding work on a Substitute MOU and discussions about an In-Person MOU. We are also in talks with the District regarding appliances and lamps. REA continues to maintain that any new mandates to remove these items is a change in our working conditions and therefore violates our CBA (Contract Bargaining Agreement).
In some positive news, REA has already successfully signed up a majority of new members! Please welcome them to Reynolds and REA when you see them.
Other work we are doing on your behalf to keep an eye for in the coming weeks: a new way to contact REA anonymously about concerns or with ideas of issues you’d like to see addressed here; a REA pamphlet full of information about REA, who we are, how to contact leadership, what REA provides for you, etc. (thank you to our Organizing Team for putting this together!); a form to share positive news and applause for other members that can be shared here and/or in the REA Newsletter.
Good luck this week and please reach out if you need anything!
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