Bargaining Update #10

Check out this week’s video update!

In this newsletter:

  • Update on the unfreezing of pay and retro pay 
  • Summary of our bargaining session with Summit
  • Information on virtual school negotiations

Pay Unfrozen!

At Monday’s meeting, the SPS Board approved restoration of our salaries, along with full retroactive pay. This is huge.  This is a result of our union’s efforts to reach an agreement with Summit this summer, as well as continued efforts to review the budget with SPS. To everyone who signed petitions this summer, attended board meetings, and advocated for Summit unfreezing our pay: thank you for your advocacy on behalf of us all. 

Bargaining Update

Increasing Classroom Support for Students

We presented a counter proposal on Class Size that keeps our strong language to guarantee the small class sizes that our students deserve (Summit’s proposal promised to make “reasonable efforts” to maintain class sizes). Our proposal does raise the mentor group size to 26 students (up from our previous proposal of 25) and adds in class size limits for Expeditions and Electives.

Reducing Teacher Turnover and Improving Job Sustainability

We presented a counterproposal on Hours of Employment, Work Year, and Job Duties. Summit management continues to insist that our school year should run through the end of June. This does not make sense to us logistically, nor pedagogically. At our last bargaining session, we expressed deep concern that  extending the school year by a month (for the same salary) would impact teacher sustainability, retention, and recruitment. Summit management’s response this week was that their data show teachers say they work at Summit because of our program and our philosophy and that if potential hires are making decisions about whether or not to work at our school based on the salary and the calendar, then “we don’t want them here.” 

Perhaps if you are the highest paid K-12 education leader in the state, you can afford to ignore basics like salary and work year. But for the rest of us, we have expenses like rent, student loans, and childcare — not to mention the need for time over the summer to recharge, spend time with our families, take on second jobs, prepare for the new school year, or engage in our own professional development. Summit management’s seeming belief that adding 22 days to the school year (with no corresponding increase in pay) will not have an impact on sustainability, retention, and recruitment of teachers who otherwise align with the value and vision of our schools is baffling. 

We also made a counterproposal on Leaves. Our major compromise was getting rid of our sabbatical proposal. While we still believe having the opportunity to take a sabbatical would be a great way to improve teacher retention, we ultimately decided there are other, more pressing priorities to achieve in our first contract. We can reintroduce this idea in negotiations for our next contract, if this is still an idea that is important to our members. 

Increasing Teacher Voice in Decision-Making

Summit management provided a combined counterproposal to our Technology and Resources and Assessment and Curriculum proposals. Summit’s proposal was mostly unresponsive to our proposals, which provided detailed language on issues such as student data privacy, teacher freedom to update and modify the platform and use other resources outside the platform, and guidelines around if and how a site administrator can change a student grade. 

  • SPS wasted our negotiation time on arguing that our proposal to allow teachers to add  supplemental resources to  the platform would undermine the student-centered science that created our model and would undermine student outcomes. When we brought up that curriculum and resources can be outdated — such as the AP Government curriculum aligned to the 2018 exam —  they stated that of course project changes may be necessary.  We need SPS to speak clearly about their proposals and stop using our negotiation time for criticizing our values.
  • SPS argued that our proposal that teachers should have authority over a final grade–which would include approving students’ work plans for summer school– demonstrates that we should approve of their proposal to extend the school year to the end of June. Interestingly, teachers have the right under state law to assign final grades, but because Summit is a charter school, that portion of the law does not apply to us. California’s 1,000+ school districts must give teachers authority over final grades — and they do so without extending their school calendars to the end of June — so we are confused by Summit’s logic.

Summit management also provided comments, and no actual counterproposal, on our Shared Governance proposal from May 4 (you can hear more details about our proposal, which includes protections for site-based decision making in this week’s bargaining update video) They stated they were not prepared with a counterproposal because they were confused about “what we wanted” — that there was a conflict between wanting some decisions made through our union contract and some decisions made through site decision-making and consensus. We actually don’t see a conflict between these. We have heard consistently from our members that within the boundaries of a stable, enforceable contract, some job duties and daily aspects of teaching are best made by sites because they have specific student bodies and staff cultures.  We believe that staff are the best authority on how they want to engage as a site community, and we will continue to work for our network to realize your professional skill.

Summit also made a counterproposal on Organizational Security (dues deduction). 

The following Unite Summit Bargaining Team members attended today’s meeting: Joey Hughes, Expeditions; Fuchsia Spring, K2; Amber Steele, Denali Middle; Sarah Rivas, Denali High; Hillary Odom, Shasta; Evan Anderson, Everest. Daryl Hemenway and Ona Keller  from CTA also joined the discussion. 

The following Summit management Bargaining Team members attended: Diane Tavenner, CEO; Kelly Garcia, Chief of Staff; and Jimmy Zuniga, Everest Executive Director.

Virtual School Update

As you may remember, we have essentially agreed to the working conditions of virtual school version 2 from last school year as our model for virtual school this year  — with a few exceptions.  Summit management has made additional, unilateral changes to virtual school, including adding HCD and not allowing for flexible meeting times for GLT/LT/MLT.

Over the past week, more than 115 teachers signed our petition for a sustainable virtual school. After presenting the petition to Summit management’s bargaining team on Tuesday, Diane Tavenner informed our team that site leaders in fact did have discretion to change GLT/LT/MLT meeting times and that HCD was not an additional class but akin to the office hours we conducted during virtual school last year. She repeatedly insisted that there have been no changes to the working conditions of virtual school 2. Our team was pleased to learn that we were wrong, and we were eager to share this information with our sites. We know the inflexibility of meeting time for many of our members, especially those with young children, has been a hardship and that the messaging around the purpose and expectations for HCD has been confusing and inconsistent. 

We have also learned during the last few months of bargaining that it is vital that we ask Summit management’s bargaining team to memorialize in writing what they have told our team verbally at the bargaining table. So, we followed up our meeting with an email detailing in writing what was said during our meeting. We received a response from Diane Tavenner that our summary of the meeting was incorrect and that Summit would provide a more detailed response soon. We look forward to Summit management’s clear explanation in writing regarding HCD and the scheduling of meetings and will keep you updated once we have an answer.

[Correction: The version of this newsletter emailed to our members mistakenly stated that the AP US History curriculum, instead of the AP Government curriculum, aligned to the 2018 exam. We apologize for the error].

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