Monday, October 17, 2016

Negotiations Update 2016 - Eliminate President’s half-time release and K-6 two day release


At our first bargaining session for the 2016-17 school year, the District made two proposals to eliminate language in our contract.

First, the District proposed to eliminate the paragraph that grants two full-day releases per trimester to TK-6 teachers and several other specialists (Article VIII, Paragraph 6). This time is used for collaboration, planning and/or evaluation. The District negotiator explained that the intention of eliminating teacher release time is keep teachers from losing instruction time with their students. The District would like students to spend less time with day-to-day substitutes; no other time or compensation for getting that work done was proposed.

Second, the District proposed eliminating the Orcutt Educators Association President’s half-time release, which is paid half by the District and half by the Association (Article XII, Paragraph 4).  In light of their first proposal, this proposal would, ironically, cause students in the President’s classroom to spend dozens of days each year with a day-to-day substitute, rather than the regular job-share partner.  It should also be noted that some sort of President release has been in the contract for well over 35 years, at least since the current President was a sixth-grader.

The District acknowledged that the cost of the president’s release time is not a substantial cost.  Eliminating release time would drastically diminish the Association’s ability to work on your behalf, which your team believes is the intention of their proposal, and also appears to be retaliation for all of your effective organizing during the last round of bargaining last year.
The District said it is not prepared to make an offer on compensation and health benefits, and they said they would not be prepared until December at the earliest.

From our side, we again proposed to include binding arbitration in the grievance process and several improvements to working days and hours, including compensation and/or time for those experiencing a large number of IEPs.

Your team had hoped for a better start to this bargaining season; clearly we will need your support to get a good result this year. Please dust off and start wearing your RESPECT buttons ASAP!
Our next session is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14. We promise to keep you updated.

Monique L. Segura

President, Orcutt Educators Association

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Welcome Back

Aloha OEA members,

Welcome back to a new School Year and a special welcome to our new teachers!  We continue to work hard to be a support to all of our members!  Please see the OEA updates:

1.  We do not have dates set for negotiations at this time but both the Association and the District have sunshined their Articles for the table.  OEA has opened Article IV (Grievance Procedure), Article IX (Working Days and Hours), and Article X (Compensation).  The District has opened Article VIII (Class Size), Article XII (Organizational Rights), and Article X (Compensation).  We will keep you posted once we have dates on the calendar.

2.  The Orcutt Educators Association has filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) regarding the Split/Payroll issue from last year.  At this point we are waiting to hear from PERB to see about a settlement conference.  Once again we will keep you posted as information comes to the Association.

3.  Health Benefits will increase this year.  I have met with Dr. Blow regarding this increase and she has stated that she does not have the authority to put an MOU in place to cover the costs of the increase. Starting September 30th we will all feel the increase of the Health Benefits being deducted from our paychecks. The School Board would like us to go through the negotiations process regarding this.  I have reached out to the District to get dates on the calendar as quickly as possible so that we can move forward.  Once again we will keep you posted on this very important issue!

4.  As some of you may recall the Association filed a Level 3 Grievance last year regarding initial placement on the salary schedule when hired into the Orcutt Union School District.  Our contract states "Five full years outside experience, including military service as described in Paragraph 4, will be allowed on the schedule for teachers new to the district.  Partial years will not be allowed.  Outside experience must have been completed during the last ten (10) years and adequate proof of this experience must be shown."  We were successful with our Grievance in September of 2015 by having our School Board unanimously rule in our favor.  The Association had also filed an Unfair Labor Practice with PERB and attended a settlement conference in the Spring of 2015.  At that settlement conference the Association learned that the School Board's ruling had not been implemented.  A settlement was not reached and on August 29th the Association and the District had a Formal Hearing at the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) in Glendale.  The hearing is over and both lawyers (CTA lawyer and District lawyer) are scheduled to submit Briefs to the Judge by October 28, 2016.  The Judge will then make a ruling, but we do not have a time line attached to his ruling.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions.  Have a great 3-day weekend!

Monique L. Segura
President, Orcutt Educators Association

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tentative Agreement 2015-18

Orcutt Educators Association
Monique Segura, President

 Oman, CTA staff

6% continuing salary schedule increase retroactive to July 1, 20152% off-schedule bonus continues for 2015.An additional Professional Development day in 2016-17, at per diemLeadership Team members receive $1,200 yearly up to 8 per school site (except this year Nightingale will receive 9)Robotics coaches receive $800 yearly stipend

Banking minutes 
•Language from the current banking minutes MOU will be incorporated into the agreement (and that 2% was added to the salary schedule).
•Regularly scheduled elementary staff meetings, as needed, will be help on Wednesdays after PLC meetings.
•The District and Association shall work together to revise the PLC meeting summary forms using input from the Membership at large via electronic survey (i.e. Survey Monkey).

Class Size MOU
•Renewed for an additional three years, through 2020
•2016-2017 TK-3 class size average per site is 28
•2017-2018 TK-3 class size average per site is 27
•2018-2019 TK-3 class size average per site is 27
•2019-2020 TK-3 class size average per site is 27

•The term of the agreement is July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018
•Both sides can reopen for salary and two other articles in 16-17 and 17-18

Friday, March 11, 2016

Speeches to the Board

Dear Board,

My name is Lisa Cooper and I have enjoyed teaching for the Orcutt
Union School District for 20 years. Addressing the Board tonight is a
first for me. Tonight I would like to remind you of what makes our
school district great. It's PEOPLE. It's the people who put their heart and
soul into educating the students of this community. For many of us,
these students are the children and grandchildren of our friends,
neighbors, and colleagues. We teach them, advocate for them, and care
for them as if they were our own. Many of us, having grown up in this
community, feel a responsibility to pay forward what our teachers
instilled in us. A love of learning, confidence in the face of challenges,
and respect for those who take pride in their work. Right now, Orcutt
teachers are not getting the respect that we have earned. The state has
provided the funds for our fair compensation, yet our own School Board
is refusing to make us, the PEOPLE who make this a highly respected
educational community, a priority.

In 2015, I saved $1,400 in receipts for out of pocket classroom
expenditures, knowing I can only write off$250 of this on my taxes.
used my meager classroom budget primarily to purchase construction
paper- a staple in Transitional Kindergarten. A fair cost of living
allowance will allow me to continue supplementing my classroom
budget out of my own pocket, as I have done for 20 years.
Thankfully, my husband, a teacher at SMHS, and I usually receive a
decent tax return each year. But due to the split payroll we saw a loss of
$5,976. This is a hard hit for a family of five with two special needs

Orcutt has always taken pride in offering its teachers a salary schedule
that can compete with local districts. But we have fallen behind and
continue to fall behind. How are we to continue attracting the same
caliber of educators? Temporary teachers are contemplating leaving
Orcutt for higher paying districts and who can blame them? I have
many close friends who teach in Santa Maria Bonita. They are just as
talented and dedicated as we are, but they do NOT work harder than we
do. Please tell me what the incentive is to work the extra hours, come in
on weekends, and spend my own money on my classroom when I make
thousands less than my neighboring colleagues. Due to the teacher
shortage, which is only increasing, many districts will be allowing
teachers to transfer in with more years of credit. We are hearing
numbers like 10 and 15 years- maybe more! It would be heartbreak for
many of us to leave this district that we love and care about But in the
end we have to be able to afford to teach AND take care of our families.
Please invest in the PEOPLE who make this district great by offering an
equitable salary schedule that will continue to bring the BEST teachers
to Orcutt.

Lisa Cooper

Dear Board,

I will leave the particulars of the negotiations to others.  I am here to speak to the issue of communication.  When the members of a group: a family, a football team, a drama troupe or a school district cease to communicate openly and honestly and with respect, then the very foundation of that group begins to erode.  That is a foundation that has been built up over many, many years in this community.  We owe much to those who preceded us.  We need to work hard and commit ourselves to honoring that work. 
Everything we do here and at our respective schools should serve the best interests of our students.  As our letter head says, “Where kids come first.”  As we come together to express our views and try to make ourselves understood, I would hope that we realize that that can only happen if we also seek to understand.  Unfortunately, we oftentimes allow our egos to cloud our vision and keep us from entering into the kind of communication that is needed so badly right here, right now.  The us against them dynamic sends us into a foxhole mentality that leaves no room for progress.  

Please understand that I am talking about all of us here.  Each of us plays a very important role in meeting the daily needs of our students, and we all know how much they sometimes need.  We will be here when our current students have moved on to high school and beyond.  It might feel that we have time to work these things out, but we have to remember that their needs are immediate and often dire.  What happens tomorrow in our classrooms can have a lifelong impact, for better or worse,  for our students.  

What I am asking is that each of us do the best we can to lower our guard, to open our minds and to try to understand what we can do to best fulfill our duties.  In 1914 German, British and French soldiers emerged from their trenches on Christmas Eve and exchanged gifts, sang songs and shared fellowship. To me, that is an inspiring and powerful illustration of the human desire to come together and find a semblance of peace. We, as a community. could embrace that now. If that coming together could occur during war, how much easier should it be for us today?   Thank you!

Beth Karamitsos

Good evening Trustees,

Teaching is a hard job. Nonetheless, it is a career that we love, and that we do effectively.  We work hard to keep up with the ever-changing demands and challenges of education. I have taught in Orcutt for over 26 years. I, like my teaching colleagues, continue to put in many extra hours weekly to make sure the students get what they need. We are the ones that wake up in the middle of the night worrying about how we can help students struggling with the English language, or how we can support 2 brothers who  are now living at the homeless shelter. Our work goes beyond the daily routines of the classroom setting. 

I am a Resource Specialist at Nightingale (part of the special education department). Currently, my caseload is made up of students with learning disabilities, autism, and health impairments.  These students are primarily in the regular education classrooms and come to my classroom for a small portion of their day to get academic help. However, their regular  education home-room teachers have taken on the additional responsibilities of IEP meetings, special behavioral plans, compiling data, individualized curriculum, and additional collaboration time for these special needs students. Teachers carry out these extra, unnoticed, often unappreciated, and never compensated  duties. It is a demonstration of their value of putting kids first.

Each special education student comes with an individualized educational plan. As teachers, and as a district, we are obligated by law to fulfill  the services, supports, and accommodations of these individualized plans. We are facing increasing student numbers to our special education  department and many of our caseloads are bursting at the seams. We have 500 special education students who receive services, not quite 10% of our total student population. The California State Dept. of Education has a cap on the number of students that can be on the caseloads of resource specialists - that cap has been exceeded. 

We are already facing a teacher shortage here in Orcutt in our special education department.  In spite of ongoing, valiant efforts by our pupil services director, there have been unfilled positions for a speech pathologist, an additional resource specialist, instructional assistants. One speech pathologist accepted a position last year, but changed her mind when she saw how much the cost of housing is here. 

Who pays when we cannot attract enough special educators? General education teachers do, special educators do, but most importantly our students do— they are the ones who need and deserve the most  support. We have a director who is supportive and tirelessly works to maintain our special education programs at a high level.  But she cannot control the numbers, the economy, or the salaries.

I am urging you to reconsider your position on our contract, so we can attract the special ed. teachers that we so desperately need. By your current stance, you are making a hard job even harder. We are not money hungry thieves who want to bankrupt the district. We are asking for what is fair, reasonable, and reflects a district that respects what we do as teachers.  We would like to return to a day in which the members of the board and administration are not our adversaries, but our supporters.

Jenny Brennan

            My name is Cheri Craft.  I have been a teacher in this district for 23 years, and like many of my colleagues, this is my first time ever speaking at a board meeting, and I can’t say it’s a bucket list kind of thing.  I do, however, feel more frustrated than ever before and I want to share why.

Teachers are Givers!

            Yes, we have a very demanding job.  But we chose it.  We understand the planning, learning new curriculum, differentiating for each student, interacting with every parent, dealing with various academic/social/emotional needs, the importance of building up children’s self esteem, helping children learn how to interact and work together while still learning the core subjects, the paperwork and grading that often takes place in the evenings and on weekends, etc. etc.  The job is very difficult and very demanding but it is also very rewarding.

However, there’s more!  There are “Extra-Curricular” activities (clubs, committees, coaching, etc.) and these positions need to be filled primarily by teachers.   Teachers fill these positions, often for free; and meetings are often held during lunch or after school.   Again,

Teachers Are Givers!

I have always prided myself on my willingness and openness to try new things, to participate fully, to say yes. 

For instance, I’ve said yes to being a:
·      Battle of the Books Coach
·      Math Bowl Coach
·      Safe School Ambassadors Facilitator
·      Student Council Coordinator
·      Talent Show Coordinator
·      Odyssey of the Mind Coach
·      Tech mentor
·      Student Teacher Mentor
·      BTSA Mentor
·      GATE teacher
·      Adoption Committee participant
·      RTI Task Force Member, most recently, and the list goes on.

I’ve spent time away from my family to attend many conferences to improve my craft including the:
·      Reading Conference
·      GATE Conference
·      Math Conference
·      CUE Conference
·      CPM Conference
·      PLC Conference and more.

I’ve also attended countless county workshops and traveled to several “Site Visits” to observe other schools implementing best practices.   And I am not alone.

The point is that I have GIVEN to this district on a consistent basis.  I’ve worked hard and I don’t feel that my work is being valued, as it should.  It seems to me that when a company values an employee, they respect and reward them in some way and that, usually, comes in the form of compensation. 

I quote from a tech commercial I recently saw: “Your employees define your business, your people ARE your business.  Stand behind them, put them first.”

I didn’t go into teaching to become rich; I did so because I wanted to do my best to make a difference for kids.  I, along with all of my colleagues in this very room, are doing just that, AND THEN SOME!  And, we deserve fair and RESPECTFUL compensation for that.

Cheri Craft

Dear Board,

I believe that each of us in this room want the same thing – we want to make a difference for the Orcutt district. We may go about it differently, but there isn’t anyone here who is in it just for themselves. So what has happened that we have arrived at such a mess as this? More importantly……..what can we do to change the atmosphere?
There are two very important tools that I use in my classroom that we can and must use.  I am certain that our fortunes as a group of people hinge on two critical factors –respect and proximity
Respecting a student means observing how hard they work, learning what struggles they face, and measuring my words to ensure that I encourage and support their efforts. My success as a teacher does not depend on the right curriculum or the number of contact minutes, but on how I treat my students as individuals. If they do not think I care about them, they will not thrive under my leadership. They must learn by watching my actions and listening to my words that I care deeply about what happens to them. For the year that they are entrusted to me, they must become my priority.

Proximity is much more fun to demonstrate, but no less important. If I teach from the front of the room and never get near a student, they do not get the message that they are important to me. I choose to move around because of what it says to my students – your teacher likes you! We cannot have a healthy relationship with our students from afar. Proximity says “You are important to me; what you do is valuable”. I want to see what you’re up to!
As a teacher, I don’t think I can have one without the other. If I say I respect and care about my students, but I am distant and silent – what will they assume? If I do not work to know them, be inconvenienced so that they are a priority – how will they ever get the message that I am on their team?

Teachers….we need to change some of our ways. We must be willing to set aside negative assumptions. We must recognize that we’re all on the same boat, and we all – administrators, the school board, our parents and fellow staff - must row together or we will eventually sink. We have to be willing to share, clearly but kindly, what we feel. We need to be willing to get up close and use proximity.

·      School Board….Dr. Blow…..these are difficult times in Orcutt. Everyone in this room understands that we do not have the income of other districts. We all get it. We also clearly understand that what is at stake is not really just salary. It is not working hours. It is not benefits, or the technology we might use. It is our future to attract and keep new teachers. It is the need for leadership that demonstrates respect. And it is an aching need for a school board and a superintendent who use proximity to show what is important.
Get to know us; observe how hard we work, what we struggle with. Measure your words carefully. We are listening, we need encouragement and we need to know that we are valued.
Use proximity. None of us can lead from behind a table. Get out in the schools. Talk to teachers. We want a healthy relationship between OEA, the administrators and the school board. It would make Orcutt stand out; it is not the norm, but it should be. We are……….ALL……in this together.   

Roberta Hough

Dear Board,

My name is Janell Provost.  In my 16 years of teaching in Orcutt, I have never spoken in front of the school board.  On October 26, one of my fellow Special Ed. teachers came to you and asked for help.  She and her family (which included a newly adopted infant daughter) asked you for a favor which would have cost the district nothing extra.  The help she and her family asked for was refused.  In my mind, we are a family in Orcutt.  In my mind, this AMAZING teacher was following Orcutt’s motto, by putting her students first each and every day, in one of our classrooms where students need the most daily support.  She even tutored Special ed. students over the summer.  I can’t think of a more heroic way to put students/children first, than to adopt one like she and her husband did.

This heroic teacher’s baby daughter was born on October 3 and was in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Santa Cruz for 10 days.  This teacher was able to utilize her seven (7) personal necessity days, and five (5) AB 109 days which gave her a total of twelve (12) days.  However, because her baby was born 3 months before January, she sadly discovered that our California law only allowed maternity or paternity leave for babies born naturally to parents and she did not have the same rights as a biological mother   It was a painful experience to learn that she could not receive differential pay while on leave like her peers who were biological mothers. 
This is a law that our very own Monique Segura (along with a committee), was instrumental in changing, in Sacramento, and it went into effect on January 1, 2016.  This law is entitled AB-375 School employees: sick leave: paternity and maternity leave.  It now allows for, “maternity or paternity leave which means leave for reason of the birth of a child of the employee, or the placement of a child with an employee in connection with the adoption or foster care of the child by the employee”.  According to this law, which changed only 3 months after her baby was born she would have been allowed the differential pay after her sick leave was exhausted.
You, the school board also had the right to approve this “maternity or paternity” leave to be extended to adopting parents as well as biological parents.  On October 26, this teacher, asked you, the school board to allow the AB-375 law, which took effect January 1, 2016, to be deemed appropriate for her situation.  Her very humble request was denied.
In my mind, professional athletes are NOT heroes.  In my mind, movie stars and rock stars are NOT heroes.  To me, anyone who puts a child first is my hero.  Teachers and parents who adopt children are my heroes.  My friend Monique Segura, who adopted her 3 daughters, and went to Sacramento to help change laws in order to help parents, is my hero.
This teacher has resigned and Orcutt has lost an EXCELLENT special ed. teacher.  This is a teacher who is part of a district who prides itself in the motto that Students Come First.  Well, her newborn adopted baby is a potential future student in Orcutt.  We are ALL begging you to remember that you can’t put students first when you put their parents and teachers last.  
But, what’s most tragic is that Orcutt Union School District has lost one of its heroes.

Janell Provost

Dear Board,

When it came time to go to college I worked three jobs to put myself through school.  When I started teaching with the Orcutt School District, I went back to working three jobs.  While being a brand new teacher and all the hours that required, I worked at Delta doing independent study and I waitressed at Red Lobster at night.  Working that hard was nothing new to me and I did not look at it as an embarrassment that I had to work at a restaurant sometimes serving my own students.  Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  However, I think a school district should be embarrassed if their teachers can't make enough of an income to be able make a decent living in the community in which they live.  Further to become a teacher is no small thing; the education required, the multiple tests needing to be passed, the months of non-paid student teaching. Is it surprising there is an astronomical drop in people becoming teachers?  Perhaps millennials don’t want to be tens of thousands of dollars in debt and then have a teacher’s salary to live on. Perhaps millennials are not interested in working in a very stressful job, being accountable for the education of 30+ children, their safety, character development, communicating with 30+ sets of parents who range from thinking you’re doing a great job for their child to that you’re the devil incarnate. Perhaps millennials don’t want to work 9 hours a day for which they are only paid for 6 ½ . Or work for free on the weekends and during the summer.

But we all know that no person becomes a teacher to become wealthy.  But what about just getting paid what a baby sitter makes?  After 16 years teaching, I've calculated that I make before taxes $2.30 per student per hour. That’s $2.30 for my contract hours only…not the time I work after school, in the evenings, etc. Now I pay my babysitters almost 2 times that amount to watch my two boys.  If you have kids you know how valuable having a great baby sitter is...but here's the babysitters never taught my boys to read, my baby sitters have never taught my boys their math facts, or algebra, They never heard about ancient civilizations, nor anything about plate tectonics from a sitter.  My sitters have never worked with my boys on creating movies or editing video footage.  Further, my baby sitters have never graded a single paper while she was on the clock getting paid....and I certainly never handed a pile of papers to a sitter and asked for her to grade them on her own time.  My babysitter has never sat in an IEP again neither paid nor unpaid.  My sitter has never done 3 to 4 straight hours of parent conferences several days in a row where only half of that time was time where she was being compensated.  My babysitter has never had to answer email, after email from a parent wondering why their student is failing when their student never turns in any work.  My babysitter has never had to have a heart to heart with any student begging them to engage in their education and not give up.  My sitters have never had to hug a student while they cried because their home lives are such a mess, or explain to them that their step parent doesn’t really hate them, or carry the heart ache of listening to a student share that they are so stressed out because their mom drinks and hasn't come home in 3 days. My sitter has never done any of these things....But I have....I've done all of them and so much more.  I do it gladly for my students.  But I don't do it so that I can be taken for granted by my school district who counts on teachers to sacrifice and give, give, give, because we love what we do and we love our students.  I know that I will never see a salary that would come close to being what my babysitter makes per hour per kid.... BUT DO I THINK I AM WORTH THAT MUCH???, for the job I do, for the impact I have on the students.  Absolutely.  Why don't you?
Tania Kim

Dear Board,

Good evening honored board members, administrators, teachers and guests.  My name is Valerie Trenev and I teach sixth grade at Alice Shaw.  I have been a teacher with the Orcutt Union School District for 20 years.  The focus of my short speech is Our Legacy.  I place the emphasis on the word “our”.  Together we have journeyed through the years educating and raising literally thousands of Orcutt youth.  Orcutt is special because of the Orcutt Union School District.  When I think back to when I first started in this district thoughts come to my mind like – “Orcutt is the place to be”. “It’s better in Orcutt.“ I was actually offered a job elsewhere and I chose Orcutt, because it was the best.  In my first years, at Orcutt Junior High, I can remember several special family members related to our current board.  Your son, Mr. Buchanan was there.  I remember what an honor it was to know that he was there at our school.  Mrs. Zilli – remember that trip to Magic Mountain where you asked me to go on that extreme roller coaster twice?  You know how that turned out.  Mr. Hatch – helped my fifth graders who were trying to make Santa Maria a better place with their class project Mission Possible, Change Santa Maria?  Your donation helped to strengthen our project and make it award winning.  Dr. Peterson, you are a revered member of our community.  Ms. Phillips and Dr. Blow – you are “newer to our district”, but what a great start you’ve both had here.  We are excited about new programs and having our district be the best ever. Truly, together, we have journeyed through the years.  

Creating lasting memories, educating children and giving the youth of our community the best start they could have.  My own son, already 15 – is a sophomore at Righetti and a great water polo player.   My daughter Laura is 20 years old now – a junior at SDSU – wanting to be a pharmacist.  These two young people and many more have had their start in our great district.  We need to keep the OUSD tradition strong.  The youth of our community need and deserve it.  Strong schools make a strong community.  We are at an important turning point.  Our demographics are changing.  There are more needy families.  There are tough decisions to be made.  As a veteran teacher of your district, I urge you to make the decision to continue to invest in our community the way you have in the past.  Investing in our schools, by respecting and supporting our teachers at this time is a win-win-win.  The students clearly win by having better instruction with high quality teachers.  Our families win by their children being properly educated.  Our neighborhoods win because, with a good education comes young people that care about their community.  Property values can remain high.  Our schools depend upon a stable teaching force.  Stability among teachers is what makes our schools strong.  Teachers who remain at their sites for a given length of time can fine-tune their teaching through consistent collaboration with each other over the course of years.  We want and need our teachers to stay.  We want and need to attract and retain good, quality teachers.  We want and need teachers who are at the top of their class.  Our students deserve that.  To attract and retain quality teachers through offering a competitive wage, shows respect to not only the teachers, but to our community because you care enough to give our students the very best.

We will all eventually move on. New board members will fill the vacancies.  New people will become our administrators.  New people will fill the teaching positions.  What will our legacy be?  How will we be remembered?

The decision is before you.  Please make the right decision. Support us. Respect us. Support our community. Invest in the Orcutt of tomorrow.  Thank you.

Valerie Trenev