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February 2023 Update #1: February 7

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

With the legislative session underway and so many bills related to education being proposed, there are some insights to share below. In addition, it is time to celebrate and prepare for EPEA's future. What a blessing it is to have the ability to raise attention to those areas that fall short of fair, equitable, and just. This newsletter contains information regarding how you can be an advocate for various areas of your profession and "Be the Union." As always, previous newsletters can be found here.


PRESCHOOL EDUCATORS ROCKED THE BOARD ROOM:

On Monday, January 23, preschool teachers spoke to share their experiences and ask the school board to expand their parameters of salary and benefits--ultimately, to make a market adjustment to retain the best preschool educators. We are so proud of the manner and message preschool speakers brought to the school board meeting. There is power when we use our voices! If you want to see the teachers' speeches for yourself, check out the 7:40ish mark of the video here.

The Eden Prairie Preschool educators need the support of the EPEA membership in moving that goal to reality. How can we show solidarity and "Be the Union"?

- share a story that illustrates the importance of fair compensation for our high-quality educators in the preschool classroom at PTO, at a school board meeting, at a World Cafe, or at another event.

- inform your EP neighbors of the divide between the high-quality teaching professional educators provide and the compensation they actually receive

- write to your legislators to urge change in preschool teacher definitions (Bill introduced by Josiah Hill and Steve Cwodzinski) as well as increase funding for PreK programming.

- write the school board to demand fair compensation for our Little Eagles preK colleagues. All other educators in our district are on the same EPEA contract. These 25 educators should be as well.


MN LEGISLATIVE ACTION:

There have been many transformative education and workers' rights bills that have multiple hearings in January, including:

- Fully funding the special education and EL cross-subsidies.

- Paid training for paras.

- Funding for student support personnel.

- Funding for full-service community schools.

- Free school meals for all.

- Free menstrual products in schools.

- Pre-K expansion.

- Paid Family and Medical Leave.

- Earned Sick and Safe Time.

- Teachers of color support, both E-12 and Higher Ed.

- Unemployment for hourly school workers.

In addition, the Walz-Flanagan administration is recommending creating a new Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Although planning is still in progress and could change, the focus and scope of the new department aim to include some of the early learning services and older youth programs now overseen by the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, and small components of the Minnesota departments of Health, Public Safety, and Corrections. This recommendation has raised concern among some of our members who provide Part C services – special education for our youngest learners – regarding their future employment status and how these programs will be delivered. Understandably, there has been some confusion over what the creation of this new state agency means for those members. Education Minnesota commits to making sure that this proposed change will not affect the employment status of members who provide Part C services, that they will remain employees of the district, and that they will continue to be represented by their local union.

In the meantime, MDE has committed to collecting more written questions and sharing them with those who will be responsible for the planning of this new agency, should the proposal pass the Legislature. Members with questions can submit questions and concerns to the Early Childhood Special Education team at mde.ecse@state.mn.us.


PENSION SESSION and ACTION:

There is never a better time to think about enjoying the view of retirement than now. If you are not up with your Teacher Retirement Association status, your future self will be happy if you get informed now. If you missed the January Pension Reform Session, you can access the material shared in 2 ways below:

VIDEO: link

SLIDES: link

Pension reform is one of the topics Education Minnesota supports/highlights for this legislative session. A legislative pension review committee must be formed before proposals/bills can be written. Education Minnesota has provided additional information regarding the pension reform here. Additional information about MN TRA can be located here.


100th DAY CELEBRATION, FEBRUARY 14:

In honor of our 100th day of school, EPEA members at building sites will have warm cinnamon rolls delivered in the morning. Please look for your sweet celebration treat at the following locations/times:

7:00: Eagle Heights: Conference Room

Oak Point: Staff Lounge

7:15: Cedar Ridge: Blue Atrium Cafe

Forest Hills: Staff Lounge

7:30: Eden Lake: Staff Lounge

Prairie View: Staff Lounge

Tassel: Joey's Office

7:45: EPHS: Staff Lounge

8:00: CMS: Staff Lounge

Lower Campus: Conference Rm 122

Many thanks go out to Jess Kast (EPHS) and Joanne Peterson (EPHS), who put all the time and effort into making this Sweet Celebration happen. They will provide a glimpse of upcoming events, including our April Union Week.


EPEA ELECTION EMAIL COMING TO YOUR INBOXES, FEBRUARY 23:

The Eden Prairie Education association will be holding its annual online election on Thursday, February 23. You will receive your unique link to the online election on the morning of February 23rd. This link will then require you to verify your ballot with your employee number. If you are unsure of that number, you can reach out to either Dominic Kirkpatrick or the Business office for that information. This year's election will include the following three ballot questions:

1. Site Representative: Who do you elect to represent your voice at Rep. Congress from your site(s), keep you informed of EPEA and Education Minnesota happenings, and trust to be an advocate for your concerns?

2. Delegates for Education Minnesota Rep. Convention: Who do you want to represent your voice at the EdMN Rep. Convention, where EdMN policies, focus, and advocacy items are voted upon?

3. EPEA Secretary: Who do you elect to become the 4th member of the EPEA Executive Board who will be responsible for keeping accurate minutes of meetings, guiding the direction of EPEA, and coordinating engagement events of current and prospective members?

Previous information regarding these positions can be found in previous newsletters.

STAFFING TIMELINES:

The HR department has officially posted the ROUNDS of HIRING timelines as picture above. New educators to the district will be invited to the Feb. 27 "New Teacher Checkin" where more explanation will be provided as to what to expect prior to the March 9th probationary notifications.

In addition, for those who want to resign from Eden Prairie Schools, state statute indicates that an employee must do so before July 15, 2023, to be within the law. Eden Prairie Schools has the right to report any resignation not meeting state statutes timelines to the Professional Educator Licensing Standards Board (PELSB) for "job abandonment."

Staffing timeline details:

ROUND 1: March 10

- Eligible: internal, continuing contract "tenured" educators

- Purpose: transfer to an open position within the same site/building

- Process: communicate your desire to the site administrator

ROUND 2: March 27

- Eligible: internal, continuing contract "tenured" educators

- Purpose: transfer to an open position at another site/building

- Process: 4 -5 question online form (linked form from HR to all educators)

ROUND 3: April 10

- Eligible: all educators

- Purpose: apply to remaining open positions at any site

- Process: 4 -5 question online form for internal candidates; full application for external candidates


Let's celebrate our 100th Day of school by sharing a sweet treat, encouraging others, and lifting up colleagues in every way we can. Thank you for "Being the Union" through your support of each other, your requests for support from your Site Representatives, and your willingness to put your voice into the room when improvements can be made. We especially need to pull together for the Little Eagles educators at this time. Please consider writing or speaking up for them.

In service and solidarity,

Dominic








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