President Jim Arey Responds to EA Survey Comments

Membership provided responses to a survey conducted by the EA in May 27, 2016. A WHS staff member asks the following:

I don't understand why the EA lawyers didn't look at the possible WHS schedule options that were being considered in the "sandbox" prior to all that work being done. The bottom line is there is no perfect schedule but if all this discussion is for nothing, then what was the point?

President Arey's response:

As an independent Association, your EA does not have a stable of lawyers on retainer. For the past twenty-five years, Joan Eagle from the law firm of Klein, Dub & Holleb has faithfully served our organization. Joan specializes in labor and management law. Joan will be stepping down this year to assist the ACLU.

For the record, your EA did have an attorney review the WHS schedule committee’s proposal last year (teach 5 with 1.5 support assignments) and deemed it a violation of the contract. The proposal would require some faculty to give up a discretionary period in a favor of an additional program support assignment. The violation was reported to Rocco Tieri in October of 2015. The EA assumed Rocco communicated the contract violation to the committee. The EA did not hear back from the committee until September of the 2016-2017 school year.

In early September 2016, President Jim Arey was contacted by Don Rowley and asked if the EA would conduct a survey. The purpose of the survey was to gauge membership interest to either continue exploring alternative schedule options, or maintain the current 4 X 4 block schedule. EA agreed to use Survey Monkey to run the WHS schedule committee survey and assist the committee in gauging membership interest.

Prior to the survey, staff was informed that if 60% or more of WHS faculty choose to explore the nine period day option (with 1.5 support assignments), then additional time would be spent gathering information to see the feasibility of the proposed schedule.

Staff voted on the non-binding referendum and 64.71% (66) voted in the affirmative while 35.29% (36) staff members voted to stay with the current schedule. Based on the survey language, the WHS schedule committee should have been able to go forward with exploring schedule options. Instead, faculty was informed that not enough EA members voted in the affirmative, so the schedule proposal did not pass.

Instead, a “new” schedule was proposed that would move the majority of staff from the traditional 4 X 4 block schedule with no program support to a five 45-period with a program support assignment.

The EA would later learn that the “new” schedule was anything but “new.” The EA discovered shortly after the survey was conducted that administration had been moving from 90-minute block schedules to 45-minute skinnies for the past five or six years. What the “new” proposal actually did was indicate that the majority of faculty at WHS in 2017 would now be working in 45-minute skinnies with a program support instead of the traditional 90-minute class periods with no program support and lower class sizes.

Management was within their contractual rights to move staff to the five 45-minute class period configuration because the standard (45 minute periods) had already been developed shortly after the 4 X 4 block was implemented in 1998. Unfortunately, the schedule shift may have led to possible contract violations impacting full and part-time staff. Your EA is working with District Administration to resolve these alleged violations and will provide an update when more information is made available.

The gradual change away from the 4 X 4 block standard was never coordinated, communicated, or developed in collaboration with the District 214 Education Association. The schedule shifts occurred without EA knowledge or consent. EA office secretary, Sue Mueller, did an extensive study of EA Minutes dating back to 2010 and could find no mention of the shift from blocks to skinnies by the WHS building representatives.

While I would agree that no perfect schedule exists, I would disagree with your conclusion regarding the point of discussion. The EA believes that had it been included in the discussion, many of the current problems that exist today, could have been avoided.