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Teachers say ‘Yes’ to contract with furloughs

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 1:04 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Mt. Diablo teachers’ union President Mike Langley was in high spirits this week, after learning members of the Mt. Diablo Education Association, or MDEA, approved a tentative agreement with the district in a landslide 1,148 to 136 vote.

“They said, ‘Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!’” Langley joked, commenting on the fact that there were more than 1,000 “yes” votes.

This was a twist on the saying, “No, no, a thousand times no!” popularized by Betty Boop.

“I was a teeny bit concerned about this vote, because most of the phone calls I was getting were people who were upset,” Langley said. “I’m happy. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was hoping I could say, ‘Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.’ But if there were only 900 votes or so, it wouldn’t have worked. It’s very melodramatic.”

All kidding aside, however, Langley was pleased with the level of support teachers showed for the bargaining team, which spent months wrangling with district officials over contract terms that include three furlough days. Students and teachers would not have classes May 6, 27 and 31, if approved by trustees later this month.

A handful of union members said they would rather strike than accept the deal because it will mean less money and less time to teach students what they need to learn by the end of the year, Langley said.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence pushed for the furlough days to help balance the district’s budget in the wake of California’s education funding cuts.

“We appreciate that our MDEA recognizes the difficult place the state budget crisis has put the district, and their willingness to work with us to find solutions help get through these difficult financial times while still keeping our primary focus on meeting the learning needs of all our children,” Lawrence wrote in an e-mail.

District officials also wanted to eliminate elementary teachers’ prep periods, which are now covered by librarians, PE and vocal music teachers. But the union didn’t budge on that. This saved numerous jobs.

The district has been unable to come to agreements with other unions, which are at impasse. The district wants to cap its contributions to health benefits, requiring employees to pay larger shares as costs rise in the future.

The board has already built seven furlough days into its budgets for each of the next two years, including five school days and two staff development days annually, which still need to be negotiated with unions.

Do agree with the district’s plan to cut school days to save money?

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  • Flippin’ Tired

    Management was told to take furlough days – they are not a union, so they get no say in the matter. Four or five days, at their salaries, barely makes a dent.

    The majority of Special Education assistants have had their days cut from 6 hours to 5 hours per day. That equals 30 furlough days.

    Many office managers and secretaries have had two to four weeks out of the year, and up to 1/2 an hour each day cut from their time. That equals 22 to 26.5 furlough days.

    Now that the teachers have agreed to take a measly 3 furlough days, that means the lowest paid employees will lose three more days of pay, on top of the 22 to 30 they’ve already given.

    And the kids lose three days they can ill afford, not learning what they need to succeed.

    Thanks, everyone.

  • Anon

    Flippin’ Tired,

    You are welcome.

  • Doctor J

    I can’t find it right now, but Theresa mentioned having a blog about “wasteful spending” in MDUSD. I think it is a great idea. Reminds me of that former Wisconsin Senator Proxmire who used to give out the “Golden Fleece” awards for ridiculous government spending.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said in an e-mail that the board intends to vote on the Tentative Agreement on April 12.

  • Charter new course
  • Doctor J

    Transparency in MDUSD ? Are you kidding me ? Take a look at Board Agenda action item 4.7 “Confidential” — doesn’t quite meet the Brown Act standards. http://law.onecle.com/california/government/54954.2.html

  • anonamom

    Dr J: You and I seem to be almost in lock-step on our views here, but I don’t see a problem in 4.7 if it is regarding personnel discipline that may infringe on the person’s right to privacy.

    However, MDUSD should be embarrassed to have to hire a math coach from Alameda County. (9.11) Didn’t the District hire qualified teachers–or what? Maybe Wells Fargo offered help with schools, and this is the only use they could find? Nah, that can’t be it.

  • Doctor J

    Anonamom: If it was they employee discipline they list that — take a look at prior agendas. The public has a right to know the general subject — as I read the Brown Act, they can’t even disucss or act on it unless they list the general subject — just like expulsions. Listing “confidential” doesn’t cut it. Secrecy in government breeds corruption. Just like handing out the list of double dippers in Closed Session so the public doesn’t find out about it. The public has a right to know who is on a public retirement and then coming back to take away a job from another person in this high time of unemployment.

  • Anon

    Dr. J.,

    I generally agree with everything you bring up and state. I’m confused though, I just went and looked at Board Agenda item 4.7 and it says “Public Employee Dismissal/Discipline”. I would agree this is not much more clear than confidential but it appears to be in line with other closed session item descriptions.

  • Doctor J

    It was changed this evening — I had printed it out. Its not 72 hours notice. The district office where it is supposed to be posted is “closed”.

  • Theresa Harrington

    According to the staff report, it involves three credentialed employees: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=3862&mtgId=301

  • Dan

    I got a response from Sherry Whitmarsh, that said the administrative assistant had labeled the attachement as confidential and the electronic school board system then labeled the entire item as confidential.

    After logging in from home as a public user the admin recognized the problem and “fixed” it. I don’t know how this corresponds with the timeline of this information appearing on the various blogs, but it would be interesting to know.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I just spoke to the superintendent’s administrative assistant and she said she attempted to attach some of the information for the board only (since it includes employees’ names). But when she logged on at home, she saw that the entire item had been marked “confidential.” So, she changed it. The mixup was unintentional and nothing else was changed, she said.

    Also, she said Bryan Richards is working on “filling in the blanks” on the budget cut list for agenda item 15.10 and she will attach it when he is done. No new items are being added, she said.

  • anonamom

    Laying it at the feet of an admin, who certainly takes direction from somewhere higher up the pole? Filling in the blanks one day before the meeting? Inadequate or non existent publishing of content to be presented; over and over and over again. Has no one in the District had the time to at least skim through highlights of the Brown Act? Have they just gotten away with this for so long that they are comfortable that no one will ever pose a legal challenge?

  • Doctor J

    Innocent mistake — undoubtedly — it just didn’t meet the timelines of the Brown Act. Didn’t the Board ask for the financial details a month ago and again two weeks ago ? With the impending doom and gloom of the budget crisis, I hope the Board takes some immediate action to halt overnight travel & airplane travel without prior Board approval — Lawrence doesn’t seem to want to do it on his own. Why not follow Gov. Brown’s example and cut out cell phone reimbursements — immediately. Every dollar saved today is a dollar that can be spent next year. As for the rationalization of categorical versus general fund money, the taxpayers are tired of seeing tax money wasted. A tax dollar — whether categorical or general fund — is still a tax dollar. Taxpayers are tired of the mentality of government — we have it so we “must spend” it.

  • Doctor J

    Still no Budget Cut attachment. I just can’t wait to see how they are going to show $1.5 million in savings in closing the two schools. I just can’t wait to see the categorical money spent on overnight travel and airplanes, instead of just the “general fund” shell game. I just can’t wait to see the true costs of SASS and its programs with all of the salaries,training, materials, substitute teachers, bubblers, and two consultants for both categorical and general fund money. Just think, after a whole month, Richards is still filling in the blanks. Thank goodness Lawrence has his degree in Applied Mathmatics.

  • 4Students

    Concord’s new CNWS redevelopment agency, how will it affect the rest of us in MDUSD? Will the new CNWS residents and businesses pay MDUSD bonds, and MDUSD parcel tax if there is one? Or will the rest of us be paying more than our share for all their shining new state-of-art schools?

  • Doctor J

    Still no budget cut attachment.

  • anonamom

    Well, if it hasn’t been published in the “correct” time frame, what are the chances that maybe one of the more up-front board members will insist that it be held over for a future date?

  • Anonymous

    I can’t put my finger on it, but it is clear someone, somewhere is trying to hide something regarding the MDUSD.

  • Doctor J

    Anon 1:11: The TRUTH about MDUSD is ugly. We cannot fix it, until the TRUTH is revealed.

  • Doctor J

    The budget cut attachment that “finally” showed up, was just smoke and mirrors. The “categorical” money was intentionally left out.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is the link: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/d569341e-9684-4d36-9d89-1268ef1e113b.pdf

    The 2010-11 negotiated amounts haven’t been changed to show what was actually negotiated. 10-N6 should be reduced to reflect 3 calendar days instead of 7; 10-N11a should be taken off the list, since teachers didn’t agree to eliminate prep periods; and 10-N15 should be reduced, since current CSEA employees didn’t agree to prorated benefits.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The board will hold a special closed session meeting Thursday to discuss negotiations with the Local One Maintenance and Operations and Clerical, Secretarial and Technical units: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/

  • Susan Townsend

    Teachers and students are always the losers in any cuts to MSUSD. How much did Steven Lawrence sacrifice to balance the budget? How many consultants, coaches, central office personnel were cut? Shame on the school board for approving furloughs. Now MDUSD will never measure up to other districts. Students won’t get into colleges, when other students have a full week more per year. Teacher morale is suffering already. Teachers are taking side jobs to help feed their families and can’t sacrifice their personal time anymore. You can’t blame them for feeling cheated when they are not the cause of MDUSD’s budget shortfalls. MDUSD’s careless spending on lawyers, administrators, benchmark testing and now a huge solar project. Thank you teachers and students for footing the bill. MDUSD doesn’t care about you!

  • Milan Moravec

    University of California Berkeley tuition, fee increases are an insult. Californians face mortgage defaults, 12% unemployment, pay reductions, loss of unemployment benefits. No layoff of UC Chancellors, Faculty during greatest recession of modern times. Yudof curb wages, benefits for sons and daughters of Californians! If wages better elsewhere, chancellors, vice chancellors, tenured, non tenured faculty, UCOP apply for the positions. If wages are what commit employees to UC, leave for better paying position.
    UC wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid. There is no good reason to raise UC tuition, fees when wage concessions are available.
    The sky will not fall on UC.
    ‘Pitch in’ UC President, Faculty, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors, UCOP:
    No furloughs
    18 percent reduction in UCOP salaries & $50 million cut.
    18 percent prune of campus chancellors’, vice chancellors’ salaries.
    15 percent trim of tenured faculty salaries, increased teaching load
    10 percent decrease in non-tenured faculty salaries, as well as increase research, teaching load
    100% elimination of all Academic Senate, Academic Council costs, wages.

    (17,000 UC paid employees earn more than $100,000)

    However, rose bushes always bloom after pruning.

    UC Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances that UC salaries reflect depressed wages in California. The sky will not fall on UC