- THANK YOU
Thank you to all our USEP members for all you have done this year under incredibly difficult circumstances. Thank you for your support of this organization in one of the most unpredictable years any of us have experienced. Though it has not been easy, we were able to work collaboratively with the District to see to it that our major concerns were addressed on such issues as safety, leaves and working conditions as well as negotiating a very favorable salary increase for all employees. USEP is not the people who work in this office, but all our members collectively. During the Legislative session, we called on you to respond to some terrible bills aimed at Public Education and unions in particular. You responded in mass, and, with state-wide help, we were able to defeat many of these bills. Thank you again for standing up for our profession and Public Education.
- TEACHER EVALS/VAM
On April 9, the DOE and Commissioner Corcoran sent out an Emergency Order which held Districts and students harmless on many fronts due to the various disruptions of this past COVID-filled year. USEP has now had three conversations with senior District staff to get an agreement that addresses “statistical changes in data” for teachers regarding student test scores. We asked the District, on May 6, and in further conversation yesterday, to deal with SPM/VAM scores for teachers in a way that is not punitive based on student attendance, student and teacher quarantines, disengaged MSOL students, etc. We have been told that all student scores and reporting is delayed this year and final results will not be available from the DOE until October or November. Please know that USEP is actively seeking on behalf of teachers, a resolution to this concern, and have a commitment that if student data (SPM and VAM) comparisons are vastly different, the District will sit down with USEP and work on whatever adjustments need to be made.
- TEACHER BONUS
We have had preliminary discussions with the District regarding the State-directed Governor’s bonus pay situation. It is not clear at this time whether the State will be mailing checks directly to teachers or work through districts to pay this bonus. Remember, this only goes to the statutory definition of “classroom teachers and principals”. USEP is advocating for ALL EMPLOYEES to be included as everyone played a part in working together this past year to make it as successful as possible for our students. More conversation will be had concerning this situation.
- WORKING CONDITIONS FOR NEXT YEAR
Conversation regarding health and safety at worksites and on busses has met no initial roadblocks as the District seeks to keep most of the specified conditions of our signed MOU for this year in place going forward. Nothing has been officially agreed upon, but the overall talk was of keeping good protocol in place for next school year.
- SALARY INCREASES FOR NEXT YEAR
The Legislature made available $550 Million, an increase of only $50 Million over last year, for the TSIA (Teacher Salary Increase Allocation). Keep in mind that the $500 Million only takes care of the raises given last year and the additional $50 M is divided into 67 districts - which does not account for much of a salary improvement at all. The only way we were able to negotiate the 3% raise for all employees last year was the District kicked in significant funds to make that happen. At first blush, it does not seem that those same funds are available this year as the District told us they are in a deficit of over $8 Million with the proposed new budget. Much work is in front of us to finalize the salary situation. Complicating this is the fact that the new TSIA monies come with strings which do not seem to let us deal with salary compression this year, as we had planned.
- ESSER FUNDS
ESSER funds are the Federal dollars that the District has been given due to COVID. While the funding seems ample for our District, it comes as categorical with many qualifications thus reducing the ability to use this money for salary improvements. We have had some conversation with senior staff as to how this money is being used and will seek to continue to monitor that process.
Rest assured, as you step away from your worksite for the summer, USEP will be hard at work advocating on your behalf for such things as working conditions, wages, fairness in teacher evaluations and monitoring how Federal funding is used to supplant General Revenue. It is our hope you can find peace and rest during the summer months to recharge and get ready for what we all hope will be a more normal return to work in August. Stay well and be safe!
Don Peace, President
United School Employees of Pasco