This week's events, yet again, highlight the extremely difficult work we are asked to do each day with our students and community. I am sending a huge virtual hug to all. EPEA will continue to address areas of working conditions this spring; there is room for improvement.
As everyone is wrapping up learning, projects, and paperwork, EPEA is jump-starting a few areas of work: preschool negotiations, friends of EP teachers networking, pre-election work, pre- EPS levy work, EPEA staff training, prep for new members, and pre-committee work.
Please read on for some updates on all the work that will continue over the summer and the ways you can show "I am the Union" in support of this work.
Preschool negotiators are gearing up for a very important round of negotiations. As all elementary schools are now going to be marketed by EPS as PreK-5 buildings, preschool teachers aim to have compensation and conditions more reflective of the K-12 contract. And with most of these Pre-K teachers having K-6 or K-12 licensure areas as well, the work to demonstrate inequity of compensation/benefits will be at the forefront.
How can I show that "I am the Union?:
1) Show your support for your building's PreK educators and wish them a successful round of negotiations.
2) Be a Friend of EP Teachers: share facts with your EP neighbors
a) Pre-K teachers with a BA earn 20% less than their EPEA counterparts.
b) Pre-K teachers with a MA earn 27% less than their EPEA counterparts.
c) ECFE teachers (also compensated from the community ed budget) are compensated at the EPEA contract level.
d) Pre-K teachers have conferences, observations, assessments, curriculum development, IEP meetings, PLC meetings, and data collection like all EPEA counterparts.
e) Pre-K teachers placed in the elementary buildings will attend all workshops, PD, and staff meetings with their EPEA counterparts.
f) EPS used Designing Pathways funds to integrate preschool into the elementary level, except for the part about compensating the teachers for their worth.
g) Most of the Pre-K teachers have MN teacher licenses for Early Learners. Most of those with licenses have K-6 and or K-12 licensure areas as well.
h) If PreK teachers left EP and secured a job in a K-12 position, they would receive a $12k - $18K instant raise.
3) Encourage your neighbors to contact school board members and ask them to justify the inequity delivered to PreK teachers.
DISTRICT BUDGET and LEVY FORECAST:
The following are some moves EPS is making next year which will have some impact on the 2022 - 2023 school budget:
1. Transportation will be free for every student next year; this is a loss of revenue from fees collected from some families. There should be zero added cost in this change. Fuel costs are anticipated to rise.
2. The federal free meal program ends at the end of the year. Adult meal prices will rise. Student meal prices will remain the same.
3. EPS anticiaptes an enrollment of 8,632 students (including 300 EPO students) for 2022-2023; this represents a slight drop. Additional EPO students are hoped/forecasted, which will then bring numbers back to this year's levels.
4. $3M or the $9M COVID Funds will be used for next school year ($2M for new programing/resources). EPS has not specified what the resources to mitigate learning loss look like, yet.
5. Extra-curricular fees are being redesigned for students; the goal is to avoid additional "add-ons" for certain activities within our system.
6. The district anticipates needing to use the $250K of staffing contingency next school year to maintain class size targets, when enrollment grows.
7. The EPS School Board approved (with a vote of 6 to 1) to approve moving forward with running a technology levy and an operating levy in the fall election. The impact for EP residents could be a $7.50/mo increase to property taxes if approved. More information to come.
UNION WEEK FEEDBACK OPPORTUNITY:
Thank you for participating in our 1st annual "Union Week." A huge shout out to Linda Enck for all the behind-the-scenes work that went into coordinating the events.
We want to capture some feedback from you as to what could improve our organization's unity in the upcoming year. EPEA leadership encourages you to take the opportunity to provide your voice.
How can I show "I am the Union"?: Please take 10 minutes to respond by June 3, indicating how you would like to be served better in the future. Please find the anonymous feedback tool here:
EPEA POSITIONS AVAIALBLE:
The EPEA is currently seeking candidates to serve in a couple key roles within our organization, all of which receive a stipend. If you or someone you know may be a good fit, please direct interest to Dominic Kirkpatrick.
How can I show "I am the Union"?: consider one of the positions below.
1) Site Representative: This position serves as the first line of advocacy for individuals at your site. A site representative meets with the building admin, Rep. Congress, and site members to discuss and find solutions for any areas of concern. (Oak Point Elementary, Lower Campus, EP Online)
2) Engagement Coordinator / Chair: This position helps to plan, organize, and execute EPEA events for the year, alongside the EPEA President.
SUMMER TRAINING HAPPENINGS:
Over the summer your building Site Representatives, your Negotiators, your Executive Board, and your Member Rights Advocates will be meeting, training, and planning to serve all of EPEA and EPPEA with even better service. We will be using the feedback provided in the above opportunity, we will be partnering with Education Minnesota, and we will be drawing on experiences to set goals, plan next steps, and monitor outcomes.
In addition, Education Minnesota has several in-person classes during Summer Seminar (April 1-3) and online via MEA #60 that would provide classes for relicensure, cultural competency, and Union-related topics. Please visit educationminnesota.org for additional information.
How can I show "I am the Union"?: Please thank your EPEA/EPPEA leaders for their continued commitment and/or visit the Education Minnesota website to learn more.
If you have any feedback, are in need of support, or would like to be a more active part in your union, please reach out!
Wishing you all a great Memorial Day,