February News

February 22, 2010

1. Snow Days. As you know, we have had four days cancelled due to weather or illness. Our contract requires days beyond the first two to be made up at the end of the year. The calendar ends on Thursday, June 18 (workday, no students) currently. This means (right now) that we would have students until Friday, June 19 and a workday on Monday, June 21. At this point I have no additional information. The administration has not requested or offered any other solutions. If you have suggestions, I’ll entertain them, but you should know these things:

A. We have in our contract 182 student instruction days. This was added a long time ago, when the state was moving towards requiring 200 days a year. We were paid for these days in the form of increases to the base salary. In other words, our calendar usually seems longer than neighboring districts, in part because we agreed to a longer year in exchange for salary. Even though the last couple of years has reduced that student day number, the salary is the same (not reduced).

B. The PEA bargaining team has attempted to change the snow day language in negotiations, ever since the state changed its language. We have not had success in these negotiations. Again, if you have ideas on how we could bargain this issue, we’d be glad to find leverage that the admin. will accept.

As soon as I know something definite regarding the end date for this year, I’ll let you know.

2. Voting. The region elections for MEA positions will again be held online. The voting will take place between March 2 and March 9. Click here to vote. Simply follow the instructions. PLEASE ONLY VOTE FROM YOUR HOME COMPUTER.

3. Messa. There have been members reporting “glitches” in billing for wellness charges. Our policy change now includes covered wellness issues (including adult immunizations). If you or your provider have problems, contact messa.

4. Calendar. Next month I will be asking for input on the calendar for 2010-2011. We will need to bargain the calendar using a somewhat different approach than the past — this because of advice from MEA. I’d still like for us to form a calendar committee to rough out a general calendar as we have done in the past. The actual negotiations at the table will have to be performed by our official negotiators. If you have some ideas about the calendar (especially in affected buildings due to schedule changes for next year), feel free to volunteer for this committee or pass your suggestions on to the committee member from your building. I would very much like to have representatives from every building this year, since schedules and issues are different in multi-age vs. traditional buildings, and of course, the middle and high school schedules.

5. Public Access TV. According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, our superintendent and our former superintendent will appear Tuesday, Feb. 23 in a live forum regarding school funding. It airs at 7:00 p.m. on cable channel 22. This is a must see for those of you interested in what our leaders think should happen to properly fund schools, and for those interested in additional insight into how our current admin. thinks. Also schedule to appear are representatives from Comstock, Portage and Kalamazoo.