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MDUSD and teachers’ union at impasse

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 7:36 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school district has sent out the following news update regarding its declaration of impasse with the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union:

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First

MT. DIABLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

BARGAINING UPDATE

March 9, 2012

WHY WE ARE AT IMPASSE WITH MDEA

After twelve (12) bargaining sessions which took place over seven (7) months and 64.5 hours, we are disappointed to report that MDEA and the District are at impasse. It is unfortunate, especially in light of the hard work and collaborative spirit of both teams.

As you may know, impasse occurs when negotiations are so hopelessly deadlocked that future bargaining would be pointless without the assistance of an independent mediator. The District requested and MDEA agreed to join us in filing a Joint Request of Impasse Determination. The District anticipates filing the Request for Impasse Determination on March 7. The duration of the mediation process depends on the mediator’s schedule.

There are several language articles outstanding. However, the chief differences are the financial articles on Work Year and Salary. The District would like to be in a position to offer all employees ongoing raises, but the fiscal realities of education funding make that impossible. Therefore, what we offered was a good-faith compromise that would allow all employees, even those with closed contracts, to receive up to three percent in one-time payments spread over two (2) years in return for possible furlough days in 2012/13 if the state budget deficit worsens.

The main difference between the financial offers is that the teachers proposed a three percent (3%) one-time payment 2011/12 regardless of any negative changes in next year’s state budget. The District offered a three percent (3%) one-time off-schedule payment over two (2) years. Specifically, 1.64% in the current year (which fully restores the three (3) furlough days teachers took in 2010/11) and 1.36% in 2012/13 so long as there are no State budget cuts that negatively affect the District’s budget.

While the difference in positions may look minor, it is not. In the best case scenario, the two proposals are within $43,000 of each other. However, the District must plan for the possibility that its revenues decrease even further. The District’s proposal includes a formula to reduce the work year only if state funding is reduced. MDEA’s proposal includes no reduction in the work year even if state funding is reduced. The difference between the two proposals is $13,134,000 by June 2013 under the Governor’s worst case scenario in the January budget.

Conclusion: While we regret being at impasse, the District remains committed to maintaining the collaborative working relationship with MDEA that continues to exist between the bargaining teams. We are also committed to working in good faith with MDEA and the mediator in hope of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement as quickly as possible.

Each party’s Last, Best & Final Offer relative to salary is included on the back of this sheet.

District’s Last, Best & Final Offer of March 1, 2012:

Term: 2 years: July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2013

Work Year:

· See adopted calendar for 2012/13

· No furlough days for 2011/12

· Strictly as a precautionary measure in the event of mid-year State budget cuts, the District would designate certain dates in the 2012/13 school year as “Make No Plan Days” which could then be used as furlough days, but only if mid-year cuts are required

Salary

· Step increases for remaining years of contract

· 2011/12: 1.64% one-time off-schedule increase (equal to restoration of 3 furlough days taken in 2010/11) (If agreement had been reached with the teachers, the Board would have extended the potential restoration to all employees in return for the formula listed below.)

· 2012/13: 1.36% one-time off-schedule increase if funded base revenue limit (“BRL”) is equal to or greater than 2011/12 funded BRL. (Again, all employee groups would take a proportionate number of furlough days relative to teachers.)

· If funded BRL decreases below $5,207.18, then one (1) furlough day for each $35 decrease. Under the Governor’s current proposal, the BRL will not reduce if his tax proposal passes; therefore, if the tax passes, furlough days will not be necessary. Reductions in transportation funding will be treated the same as a cut to funded BRL for purposes of calculating furlough days

· Increase from $20 to $25 per hour in certificated hourly rate

· Increase from $25 to $31 per hour in Summer School Pay

· Increase from $25 to $31 per hour for Standards-Based Intervention Pay

MDEA’s Last, Best & Final Official Offer of Salary March 1, 2012:

Term: 1 year: July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012

Work Year: No mandatory meetings scheduled on 3rd pre-service day

Salary

· Three percent (3%) one-time off-schedule increase for unit members. Those who work less than 1 FTE shall receive a proportional increase relative to their salary

· Increase from $20 to $26 per hour in certificated hourly rate

· Increase from $25 to $33 per hour in Summer School Pay

· Increase from $25 to $33 per hour for Standards-Based Intervention Pay

Presented by the Mt. Diablo Unified Bargaining Team”

Although the News Update is dated March 9, it says the district expected to submit its Request for Impasse Determination on March 7.

I spoke to Mike Langley, president of MDEA tonight. He said he hadn’t seen the News Update.

However, he said the union was asking for a one-year contract, instead of a two-year contract. The district, however, insisted on a two-year contract that included the potential for the maximum number of furlough days next year, he said.

To show their displeasure with the impasse, Langley said a couple hundred teachers are planning to gather at 6 p.m. Monday outside the district office, wearing colorful t-shirts.

The turnout is to show support for the MDEA bargaining team, Langley said.

“They want a one-year contract,” he said. “They don’t want a two-year contract with unlimited furlough days.”

Langley said there were several other areas of the contract that teachers wanted to continue to discuss, such as the amount of time teachers are expected to stay after school for meetings. But, he said the district did not want to continue those discussions, when agreement couldn’t be reached on the salary items.

“It’s much simpler for them to take a stand when they’re selective about what they’re talking about,” he said. “They want to have unlimited free hours, basically, of teachers’ time after our work day. We’re trying to set a reasonable limit to how many hours we donate beyond our paid workday. Most teachers put in a good number of hours on their own to get things done.”

Langley said the union did not agree to the language the district initially proposed in its Request for Impasse Determination because its bargaining team did not think it accurately reflected the negotiations. Langley was unsure whether the district agreed to the bargaining team’s changes.

“I have no idea what they’ve done,” he said. “I doubt they did it on March 7, unless they just went ahead and ignored us and sent it in.”

If no agreement could be reached on a joint Request for Determination of Impasse, each side could submit its own, Langley said.

What kind of agreement would you support?

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  • Flippin’ Tired

    Any surplus is money that should go to restore the hours of the CSEA and CST members. Teachers do not deserve raises on the backs of the other employees.

  • Doctor J

    @FT, Its all part of the divide and conquer strategy of Eberhart and Lawrence tp pit union against union.

  • anon

    @Dr J,
    Strategy? Perhaps this is the beginning of a strategic plan?

  • g

    So, ERRA and the agreements of just a short 14 months ago fall apart as soon as someone smells a loose buck or two! Greedy me-mes! http://www.mdusd.org/Staff/Documents/settlement.pdf

    Without skimming from other programs like busing, day-to-day maintenance, watering fields etc, there wouldn’t be any extra money to fight over.

    Spend the damn money on programs for the kids–that’s who you shortchanged to get it in the first place!

  • Theresa Harrington

    FT: The district has resisted restoring hours because that would be an ongoing increase in costs.
    Although MDEA does not bargain on behalf of other unions, Langley said MDEA assumed that the district would offer other unions the same deal that it was working toward. In fact, the district said the same thing.
    The surplus was built up in part through cuts to the hours of CSEA and CST staff. When the board voted to cut the hours of special ed assistants, Langley spoke against the cuts and Lawrence and Richards said the cuts weren’t necessary to balance the budget (because the board had already made enough other cuts).
    But Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh urged the board to make the cuts, saying they would be necessary if MDEA didn’t agree to furlough days.
    Now, it turns out that the district didn’t need those furlough days after all. So, it appears that the district could have afforded to retain the special ed assistants’ hours.
    The district is projecting a “positive” budget for the next three years. Langley said MDEA believes the district should spend down its reserve before insisting on furlough days.

  • MoMx3

    Really unfortunate that kids who really need it have no outlet for summer school yet they won’t even publicly acknowledge that it’s done them any good to cut it! Where was it that kids come first?

  • Theresa Harrington

    The board expects to discuss summer school and graduation requirements Monday: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=5142&mtgId=339
    Trustee Cheryl Hansen wants to restore cuts made to grad requirements. Trustee Linda Mayo voted against the cut to grad requirements when the board majority voted them in. Former Trustee Dick Allen also voted against those cuts, which were implemented along with the summer school cuts (and proposed by Superintendent Steven Lawrence as a way to save money).
    At the last board retreat that Allen attended, he said he feared that the district was making decisions based on the budget’s bottom line instead of based on what was best for students. He said the budget side of the house seemed to be taking precedence over the education side of the house.
    Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who is a former English teacher at Concord High, has said she fears the same thing is happening at the state level. She said she wants budget decisions to be made based on what makes sense for students, instead of what can save the most money.
    This is why a strategic plan is so important. Even though the board said it wanted to keep cuts “away from the classroom,” it has not been successful in doing that.
    Trustees Gary Eberhart, Sherry Whitmarsh and former Trustee Paul Strange voted for the cuts to grad requirements and summer school. Now that Hansen and Trustee Lynne Dennler have replaced Strange and Allen, it will be interesting to see what Dennler thinks about the cuts. She has said she wants what’s best for students and teachers.
    If Mayo maintains her original opposition to the cuts and Dennler comes out in favor of making the curriculum more rigorous and offering summer school for students who need it, the original decision could be overturned by Mayo, Dennler and Hansen.
    The district’s offer to the teachers’ union and its positive budget projections for the next three years show that it could likely afford to restore summer school. The question is: Will the public demand it and will school district administrators and teachers speak up about how the cuts may be hurting students?

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Summer school is nothing but day care. Been there, seen it. It’s a waste of money.

  • MoMx3

    Flippin’ – really? So for kids who can’t graduate without a particular class (maybe they struggled) and DVC dropping courses for their own budget cuts… then what?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Some districts allow students to take online courses. So far, MDUSD has allowed Northgate students to take an online French V class in a supervised classroom setting.
    However, Trustee Lynne Dennler has said that she would like to see the district embrace new technology and Superintendent Steven Lawrence said the district planned to explore online courses for its independent study program as part of the $1.5 million he promised would be saved with his school closure plan. As far as I know, Lawrence has never reported whether the district actually has pursued online learning opportunities.
    However, Rose Lock told me the district used some computer courses to help students who were struggling to pass the CAHSEE. I’m not sure if they were online courses.
    I wonder if students who can’t get summer school courses have considered applying for transfers to other districts that offer summer school. It’s my understanding that the County Board of Education grants such transfers if students can show that the new district offers something they can’t get in their home district. This potential loss of ADA could prompt the superintendent and board to rethink the cost savings they have achieved by cutting summer school.

  • MoMx3

    Theresa, sure kids CAN take an online course, but it won’t be added to their transcript. They have to check the box on a college app that says “yes” they attended another school and provide a separate transcript.

    I wonder if an outside the district class would be added to a transcript?

  • MoMx3

    Oh and forgot to mention, most online courses for core subjects are $300-500 EACH.

  • Doctor J

    @TH #7 When will staff provide answers to the public to these questions asked Feb 6, 2012 at the Board Meeting ? Or will it be more of the same “refuse to tell the truth to the public” ?
    “Since the new requirements have been in place for a year and half the Board would like the following questions answered:
    1. Has the district actually saved the anticipated $400,000?
    2. Has the changes in graduation requirements reduced the percentage of students completing the UC a-f requirements?
    3. What has been the impact of the change in math requirements?
    4. How do our current requirements compare to surrounding districts in Contra Costa County?
    5. What are the implications of raising the graduation requirements to 210, 220, or 230?
    6. What classes did students historically take for credit recovery in summer school, and are there less expensive ways for credit recovery besides summer school?”

  • Flippin’ Tired

    @ MoMx3,

    Yes, really. Go and watch for yourself; I’ve lived it and seen it with my own four eyes. If they struggled for 40 weeks, what makes you think 4 intense weeks will be a magical awakening? Intervention during the regular school year makes more sense.

    Sorry to be negative, but reality is reality.

  • MoMx3

    Uh, Flippin’ they don’t offer that either, so what are kids supposed to do? What if a family can’t afford private tutors and Sylvan and all these other things? What then? Just give up? Hell if I were some of these kids I think that’s what I’d be doing. No wonder some drop out! There isn’t any help for those that need it.

  • Theresa Harrington

    At the elementary level, the district has implemented Curriculum Associates testing and data analysis, which is aimed at identifying struggling students and getting them the help they need.
    At the secondary level, however, the district does not seem to have a districtwide approach to catching kids who are falling through the cracks.

  • Anon

    Flippin-Four years of English are required for graduation. With all your wisdom, what do you recommend for students who fail English even after intervention IF (BIG IF) that’s available . . . they cannot graduate? You must be anticipating the upside . . . failing students could stay on more years and raise ADA!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Another option would be to transfer to a continuation high school, where accelerated credit recovery programs are available.
    The district could assess whether it makes sense to transfer every student who fails English or another required course to continuation school, or whether it would make more sense to offer summer school or online courses so students could stay at their home schools.
    Adult ed has also been an option for some students, but I believe budget constraints have forced a reduction in those courses, as well.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#18 What does the “million dollar” Norm Gold report recommend for high school students still failing English ? And what is happening with our so called EL Dept ? What are they doing to address this issue of students continuing to fail English ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I think anon may have been referring to English language arts, not English language. But it’s probably likely that those struggling with English language are also struggling in core classes.
    Rose Lock has said the SASS Dept. is stressing, “First, best instruction,” so that kids learn what’s taught the first time around. It’s unclear what the plan is when that’s not happening.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    I repeat: Intervention during the regular school year makes more sense. But feel free to feign offense.

  • Just J

    Flippen, I actually agree with you somewhat. Intervention during the school year makes sense but the problem is they are not useing the right interventions. Summer school should be for credit recovery after the right interventions are put in place and then the Special Ed/Resource kids that need smaller class and correct interventions.

  • MoMx3

    Great, send a kid who failed geometry or english (?) to continuation school? Isn’t that a little like throwing a kid in juvenile hall for shoplifting a pack of gum? Kid isn’t going to come out the same way he/she went in.

    Maybe if they allowed kids to take independent study on certain classes, with an onsite tutor available for math and other core classes… ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe the district sometimes rejects student requests for independent study, which could cause some to simply drop out. It will be interesting to see if the district’s dropout rate has increased as a result of its failure to provide summer school.
    Intervention during the school year would certainly be preferable to summer school. However, the district cut some resource assistants who were providing intervention because they weren’t in student IEPs, despite testimony at board meetings about how important those assistants were to helping kids who needed assistance, but didn’t qualify for special ed.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#20 So what does Rose Lock say is “second” to “best instruction” ? Or is it just only “best instruction” and what is happening to those instructors who are not cutting it ? What is the evaluation process for those administrators as “instructional leaders” ? The two secret MOU’s for the SIG schools — not approved by the board in open sessions or discussed with the public — apparently provide a framework for administrator evalution using, in part, student test scores — has this been implemented or just another box “checked off” on the SIG application with no intention of performing ?
    Perhaps asking the district for copies of the signed MOU’s will give us a clue when the Board approved them in secret.

  • Just J.

    Most of the kids that were denied IEP should have been given them.. Our school district still uses the methods of the 1970′s to determine how to qualify. They take advantage of parents who don’t know any better and in turn deny children the right to an education. The kids loose self esteem and get placed at Olympic then drop out. There is no one who advocates for the kids.

  • School Teacher

    @Flippin” #8

    I will agree that summer school in this district is a complete joke as far as true credit recovery goes. I don’t have the answer, but I know that the way summer school has been run in the past is pathetic. To have a kid get F’s in Algebra I (or Geometry or History or English) over the course of 40 weeks, and then magically make it up in 4 weeks is ridiculous. Especially when the student comes in with A’s for their summer school work. Like they are really ready to go ahead into more challenging classes. In some way, they should be made to take that same class over again over the same time period. They would need to revisit the graduation requirement issue, but even with requiring 230 units for graduation, there was an extra class that could be failed and still achieve that number. As I stated, I don’t have the answer for this, but the way it has been done is most certainly not it.

  • Doctor J

    I believe the true reason for dropping the graduation requirements was to avoid the District being named a Program Improvement District — well that didn’t work. They dropped the grad requirements and still their graduation numbers were so poor it didn’t keep them out of program improvement !

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Returning to the original topic of this thread for a moment, I’d like to know if the district and MDEA positions also include maintaining the “step and column” increases that are typical in most districts and which I believe (but may be mistaken about) are still used at MDUSD. When the media report on school district compensation negotiations, they sometimes do not make clear when teachers are eligible for compensation increases based on longevity and continuing education, even when the are getting “no increases” in the contract. Also, I am not clear which segments of the MDUSD work force covered by union contracts already receive step and column increases. Does anyone know?

  • School Teacher

    Jim @29

    Here is a link to the 2011-2012 MDEA teacher salary schedule:

    http://www.mdusd.org/personnel/Documents/Salary%20Schedules/salsched_mdea.pdf

    It does include “step and column” increases. One thing that it does not show is the cost out of this salary that a teacher must pay if they choose to get their health benefits through the district. Someone who knows would have to chime in to list the costs for this (I know it depends on how many people are being insured). Additionally, teachers must contribute toward their pensions (this is different from some other public servants who, at least up until recently, have not had to contribute any of their salary toward that). They contribute about half of the payment to STRS (State Teachers Retirement System) from their salary, and the other half is a district contribution. Hope this helps.

  • anonteach

    I taught summer school in the district.

    I had Olympic kids tell me that the CHAPTER work I gave them was more than they would get for the year.

    I had Northgate kids bring in parents to put the screws to me over higher passing grades and attendance violations (that would lead to a drop).

    I also had students fail summer school. Don’t even get me started on the instructional minutes the kids spend compared to the grade they get – - 15 days @ 4.5 hrs?

    Having students take the course again doesn’t reduce the rigor of the course.

  • anon

    TH#7,

    You mention the district’s positive budget for the next three years. I see it in year one, but not in year three if the Governor’s tax fails and he follows through with his mid-year cuts. We all know that the district can’t ignore the potential for these mid-year cuts. Maybe you have information that we don’t. If so, please share with the rest of us.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon, I am basing this on the budget report posted with tonight’s agenda, which states on page 4 of the Second Interim Report: “As President of the Governing Board of this school district, I certify that based upon current projections this district will meet its financial obligations for the current fiscal year and subsequent two fiscal years:” http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=4838&mtgId=339

  • g

    How can they certify that ADA for this and two subsequent years will not change by more than 2%? It seems that losing over 1700 students to a new charter school would wipe that out.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Currently, the district must count the CVCHS ADA in its revenue limit funding. If the state approves the CVCHS waiver, that may change.

  • Doctor J

    P. 143, first item – Mgt/Super Positions: Last Yr: 203.2; Current: 186.3; Next 178.6. What were the 17 Mgt/Supervisory positions eliminated from last year to this year, and who were they ? What are the 8 positions recommended to be eliminated for next year ?

  • g

    I’m wondering about why they would eliminate a (vacant) mental health spec 1 position, only to create a mental health spec 2 position at a $15K pay increase, and then make it retroactive back to 7/11? Agenda 9.7 looks like they just wanted to figure out how to give just one person a $15K retro raise—No?

  • Doctor J

    BAC agenda posted — but clearly does NOT meet the Brown Act requirements of an agenda. How many rodeos before someone learns which end of the horse to ride ?

  • Doctor J

    BOC Agenda post — no attachments of minutes to be approved. Minutes for Feb 2012 Meeting up for approval, but no sign of Agenda posted for that meeting. March 2012 “quarterly report” is posted.

  • Doctor J

    Major problem with tonight’s agenda: start time at top says 7:30 pm. Public comment on the closed session is Item 3.1, so one not familiar with MDUSD would expect public comment to occur between 7:30 pm and 7:45 pm. You guessed it — they adjourn to “closed session” even before the 7:30 start time [6:00 pm] and therefore don’t have the benefit of Public Comment. Add that to Santa’s list of Brown Act violations. I don’t know why they have such a hard time “getting it right” ?

  • g

    Theresa, do you have a copy of the BOC minutes yet? I most want to see an official copy of the Minutes of the Dec 15 meeting, with an exact list of which committee members were there and which were absent. You gave us a pretty good accounting of the action that night, but an official list of the committee members has not been updated since they last met in Sept 2011 when the total “official” count was 17.

  • Theresa Harrington

    No, I don’t have a copy of the minutes. I just spoke to Deb Cooksey and Julie Braun-Martin about the impasse.
    Also, Mike Langley left me a message saying the district still hasn’t filed its official declaration because it is still working with MDEA on the wording so it can be a joint statement.
    Teachers plan to protest the impasse outside the district office starting at 6 p.m. Cooksey said Bryan Richards will present six different budget scenarios tonight, based on whether or not the governor’s proposed taxes pass and whether the district’s or MDEA’s last best and final offers had been accepted.
    She said Richards had reworked the numbers and she didn’t think the budget would be positive three years out. I said the staff report showed that it would. She said that had been posted Friday. I told her the Second Interim Report that was online this morning also showed a positive budget three years out. She expressed surprise and said that wasn’t her understanding.
    Based on her reaction, I just checked the district’s website and found a new version of the Second Interim Report that shows a Qualified budget: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/f3ab9e1b-6313-45c9-8d6c-b66866f4c858.pdf.
    I told her it would be really helpful if Richards would post his PowerPoint BEFORE the meeting, so the public can get a look at it and possibly even comment on it. She said she thinks he’s still working on it.

  • g

    Isn’t he always still busy marking the cards right up until game time?

  • Doctor J

    Running rough shod over the Brown Act again. It wouldn’t surprise me if he isn’t changing the attachments during the meeting — does the Board Meeting start at 6 pm or 7:30 pm ! Once the 72 hour limit is hit, no one is supposed to subtract from the posting, but its ok to add, if it is identified ! Getting Sherry to sucker into signing a “Qualified Budget” in an election year showing nearly a $40 million surplus at the end of the year, and presently a $68 million surplus. Only Sherry is that gullible.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The staff report still states: “Approval of the District’s Positive Certification is recommended:” http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=4838&mtgId=339
    I wonder if that will be changed as well.
    I have asked Cooksey if it is legal to add items without identifying them as additions. I have also suggested that the district clearly label additions as addenda.
    I will post another item shortly, with new information about the impasse from both sides.

  • Theresa Harrington
  • g

    So, it is actually Qualified, if we count this-and if we count that; but let’s go ahead and approve it as Positive in the hopes that no one higher up will catch the “If’s”?

    Crazy

  • g

    So it looks like MDUSD blinked on its Last Best Offer.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district is caught between a rock and a hard place. If its budget is qualified, I believe that negatively affects its bond rating or its ability to sell bonds.
    The last time the board was about to certify a qualified budget, Jon Isom was prepared to present some sort of fix that would have been necessary to sell the bonds. But, when the district was able to show the budget was positive, Isom breathed a big sigh of relief and left the meeting, saying whatever he was proposing was not necessary.
    Since I’m about to leave for tonight’s meeting (and the teachers have probably already started their protest), I don’t have time right now to look up what it was that Isom was proposing.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district and MDEA appear to be playing a game of chicken.
    Here’s a new blog post with more details from both sides: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2012/03/12/war-of-words-continues-in-mdusd-impasse-with-teachers-union/