Summit Board meeting, compensation process, and more

Action Item
Help us vote on a T-shirt design! We’d love your input – here’s the survey link:

Update on the bargaining process
At the Special Board Meeting on Jan. 16, the Unite Summit bargaining team presented their sunshine documents, listing the proposals we would like to include in our first contract. You can find that document here

During the meeting, the Board announced that Summit administration’s bargaining team will be Diane Tavenner, Kelly Garcia, and Jimmy Zuniga. The next step will be for our union bargaining team and administration’s bargaining team to sit down and begin negotiations. This involves trading proposals of what we want in our contract. The proposals will go back and forth until we’ve come to a “tentative agreement.” Then members of our union will be able to read and discuss the tentative agreement and vote on whether or not to accept it. The SPS Board will do the same. Only after teachers have had a vote will the tentative agreement become our union contract. 
During this entire process, your democratically chosen bargaining team will be giving updates and gathering input and feedback. If you want to be more involved, either as a member of the bargaining team, or to help make sure all teachers are informed about bargaining, please let us know! 

We requested again today at the board meeting that Summit start negotiations as soon as possible. Summit leadership has stated that they cannot begin negotiations until after March 31st. Summit’s stated reason is their desire for more input before the Board adopts its initial proposals during its March 19 Board meeting. Waiting for three and a half months between having our union certified and sitting down to the bargaining table is unreasonable and is not a demonstration of good faith bargaining. We hope that Summit administration will change course and not unreasonably delay negotiations.

How does bargaining relate to the compensation process?
Here’s a reminder of how the current compensation process relates to bargaining (see previous newsletter for more details).

Any changes to the “status quo” of working conditions must be negotiated with our union. The current status quo regarding compensation is not the current salary and benefits schedule; it is the process Summit has historically used to periodically revisit that compensation plan. Compensation is a mandatory subject of any collective bargaining agreement, so we can revisit the subject during contract negotiations. Therefore, we will participate in current consensus procedures, which is the status quo, but that does not close the door on future talks related to compensation as it is part of our holistic contract negotiations. As we prepare to finish the compensation consensus process, we urge teachers to participate and make their opinions known. And, if there are ideas that didn’t make it in the final compensation process proposal but you think should be in our union contract, please let us know!

As a reminder, bargaining a contract is a much more expansive process than the narrow set of topics that are included in the current compensation process. Pushing for improved student support services has always been one of our top priorities. We will continue to push Summit to make sure that our full list of priorities are addressed during bargaining.

What might a finished contract look like?
We want to send congratulations to charter teachers at Pacific Collegiate for settling their first contract! We think their example might help you envision what the overall goal is as we head into bargaining our own first contract.

Charter educators at Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz organized their union, United PCS, back in August of 2018 and this week, both the union and the school approved their first union contract!

Highlights of the contract include:

  • An end to at-will employment! After a probationary period, teachers can only be terminated for cause, and there is a clear and fair process for discipline with the opportunity to appeal to a neutral arbitrator. 
  • A salary schedule that brings teachers closer to parity with surrounding schools, including significant raises for mid-career teachers and an immediate $3,000 bonus for all teachers
  • An average class size of 24 students, with no class having more than 28 students
  • A faculty board advisor, who will be elected by teachers and receive a stipend. The faculty board advisor will attend all of the charter school’s Board meetings, give input on Board decisions, and report teacher concerns to the Board. 

You can check out the full contract on their website

Rainier Community Needs Unaddressed
During the SPS Board meeting, the Board voted to officially close Rainier. When asked if there was any need for discussion before the vote, one of the Board members said “we’ve had a lot of discussion about it.” No discussion about the Rainier closure took place during open session at a board meeting — as far as we’re aware, the Rainier closure conversation happened behind closed doors, which may be a violation of the law. 

One of the Rainier parents commented on how the closure has not been transparent. She gave the example that Evergreen Elementary School District is consolidating schools, which has involved a months-long process of public meetings and stakeholder involvement. None of that happened with Rainier. A Rainier student expressed dismay that so little notice was given for this Board meeting and asked why students weren’t getting the support for transitioning to a new school that they were promised. And multiple members of the Rainier community brought up a concern that we’ve been raising since the closure was announced; Rainier families want transportation to Tahoma. Other charters in East Side provide transportation for their students; providing transportation would not be cost-prohibitive and it would allow Rainier students (most crucially, current juniors) to be able to stay with Summit. We will continue to advocate for the needs of the Rainier community during this difficult time.