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January 2023 Update #2: January 23

As we finish up the first half of our school year, there is so much that grabs our attention, and Union happenings are no exception. Please see some important topics below. Previous newsletters can be found here.


PENSION REFORM RESOURCES and LEGISLATIVE CALL TO ACTION:

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.

In addition to Pension Reform, there are a wide breadth of needs to better support the work we do with students each day. If you have not yet familiarized yourself with the Education Minnesota Legislative Agenda, please do so.

EPEA/EPPEA will be engaging in a Lobby day with our legislators in the coming months to share our personal stories that highlight the components of the law that, if changed, would improve how we serve students. If you would like your story shared, please be in touch with Dominic Kirkpatrick.

Related to other legislative news, EPEA hosted Senator Steve Cwodzinski at Rep Congress in January. Your EPEA leaders spoke about educator needs, Sen Cwodzinski's view of this session, and the next steps to bring positive moves for public education. Sen Cwodzinski indicated that more teacher voice is needed at hearings to better illustrate the reality legislators may not fully understand.




EdMN SpEd Survey:

For those who serve as SpEd teachers/service providers, Education Minnesota is seeking your input to more accurately advocate for your specific needs as you serve students and the workload that is needed to do so effectively. These data points will be brought to legislators to help bring about helpful changes. Please see your email for the survey emailed directly to you or click here for a direct link to the survey. Thank you for the time to include your thoughts.


PRESCHOOL TEACHERS NEED EPEA SUPPORT:

Many people are not aware of the struggle preschool teachers are facing within Eden Prairie Schools. To understand the situation, one may need a bit of background:

  1. Preschool teachers by current state statute are not defined as "teachers" requiring a license, like K-12, ECFE, or ECSE staff. However, if a community ed program runs a program that receives School Readiness+ grant money or Voluntary PreK grant money, then licensed preschool teachers are required.

  2. Eden Prairie does not currently receive School Readiness+ or VPK grant money.

  3. While Bloomington, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Eastern Carver County, Shakopee, Hopkins, Edina, St. Michael, Buffalo, Anoka/Hennepin, and others have chosen to place preschool teachers on the K-12 contract (regardless of whether or not grant money is awarded), Eden Prairie admin currently hold the position that a license is not required by statute, so EPS is not interested in compensating preschool educators as k-12 teachers.

  4. In the 2018-2019 school year, 90% of the preschool teaching staff held one or more MN Teacher Licenses. Now that number has dropped to 56% as more of our preschool teachers holding licenses are moving to districts that will pay their worth.

  5. The difference in wages alone is a $10K - $30K difference per educator.

  6. The goal of the EPPEA is to receive the market value of their worth.

On Monday, January 23, preschool teachers spoke to share their experiences and ask the school board to expand their parameters 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!

The Eden Prairie Preschool educators would like 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 high-quality educators in the preschool classroom at PTO, school board meeting, or 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

- write the school board to demand fair compensation for your preK colleagues.

UPCOMING EPEA ELECTIONS:

The Eden Prairie Education association will be holding its annual online elections on Thursday, February 23. This year's election will include the following three positions:

1. Site Representative:

Cedar Ridge (2 positions),

CMS (3),

Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion (2),

Eden Lake (2),

EPHS (5),

EPO (1),

Forest Hills (2),

Little Eagles (1),

Lower Campus/Tassel/District Wide (1),

Oak Point (2),

Prairie View (2)

2. Delegates for Education Minnesota Rep. Convention:

We have a total of 9 spots to represent all of the EPEA/EPPEA at the Education Minnesota Representative Convention. This is an important spot for the EPEA/EPPEA "voice" to be heard through voting and networking. The nine delegates will have a short Zoom meeting before the convention to learn of the items on the agenda that will come to a vote as well as discuss the positions that will best serve the EPEA/EPPEA. This is one way EPEA can nudge the direction of our larger union and its advocacy.

3. EPEA Secretary:

This is a 3-year term Executive Board Leadership position, which is described below:

Powers and Responsibilities of the Secretary

  1. Shall keep an accurate report of the minutes of the Executive Committee, Representative Congress, and general membership meetings, and present the report at subsequent meetings.

  2. Shall keep accurate records and reports that relate to the position of Secretary and make them available to the Executive Board and their successor within 30 days.

  3. Shall provide copies of the minutes of Representative Congress meetings to each Building Representative.

  4. Shall perform such duties as may be assigned by the President or Representative Congress, including:

    • Serve as the Engagement Chair

      • Help coordinate union events

      • Help recruit potential members

    • Serve as the Communication Chair

      • Help prepare Monthly Communications/Newsletters

Those interested in putting their names in for one or more of these positions should notify EPEA VP Nate Gabel by February 6th.



STAFFING TIMELINES: COMING SOON

For those considering a leave of absence for the 23-24 school year, those leave applications are due to your supervising administrator by February 1, 2023.

In addition, those considering retirement at the end of the year should also inform their supervising administrator preferred by February 1.

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 dates have not officially been released, but the following process is expected:

ROUND 1: First week of March

- 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: Third week of March

- 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: First week of April

- 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


100th Day Celebration: February 14

Looking ahead, EPEA will have a few events to bring us together, boost our unity, and prepare us for the future. One of our upcoming events occurs in February: "100th Day of School Sweet Celebration." Additional events occur during our EPEA Union Week.

Much sentiment of thanks goes out to Jess Kast (EPHS) and Joanne Peterson (EPHS), who are our new Engagement Coordinators. They are planning all the events for the rest of the year.

There are many occasions everyone can "Be the Union," show unity, strengthen our knowledge, and put ourselves in a good place for negotiations.



Thank you for "Being the Union" through your support of each other, your inquiries to your Site Representatives, and your willingness to add your voice to the conversation. We especially need to pull together for our Preschool colleagues at this time. Continued contract negotiations and community organization is underway. We are stronger together.

In service and solidarity,

Dominic








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