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March 2023 Update #1: March 7

March is upon us, and it comes in like a lion! This newsletter contains very important information and action steps we can take to "Be the Union." Please take a few minutes to stay informed and learn of some action steps. As always, previous newsletters can be found here.

PENSION REFORM- MEMBER ACTION NEEDED NOW!: EPEA Treasurer Brent Bovitz continues to go above and beyond in the work to bring about better pension conditions. This work affects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US!

Brent emphasizes that now is a critical time for member action!

Contact your legislators and the governor to share that they should support benefit improvements and strong funding investment. We have to move more legislators to support the investment in educator pensions.

  • Use our new action alert, personalize it or draft your own letter.

  • Ask legislators directly, if they aren't an author on our pension bill...will you co-author the House or Senate bill?

  • Ask legislators directly, will you support this bill?

  • Contact LCPR members and share that pension improvements are essential to recruit and retain educators. Use the options in front of you to make a needed investment in education!

  • Check out the first LCPR hearing on our pension bill yesterday.

OTHER LEGISLATIVE BUZZ:

The state legislature is entertaining multiple bills that are designed to support students and the educators who serve them. One such bill is SF1881 (Cwodzinski is an author) that requires school districts to negotiate class size limits with the following proposed language:

Subd. 6. Class size ratios. (a) A school district or charter school must have a class size ratio no greater than: (1) for kindergarten through grade 3, a class size of 17 to one; (2) for grades 4 to 9, a class size of 21 to one; and (3) for grades 10 to 12, a class size of 23 to one. (b) A district must negotiate a plan to reduce class sizes with the exclusive representative for teachers. A negotiated class size reduction plan may specify ratios different than those established in paragraph (a).

Want to send your legislator a message of support for this bill? Click here for a form to do so.

Education Minnesota has also created templates to contact legislators on the following topics:



SCHOLARSHIP FUND AND EVENT--APRIL 19:

During this year's Union Week, one of the ways EPEA members can participate and "Strengthen our Community" is to engage in the planned Scholarship Fund Event as one of Eden Prairie Education Association's missions is to work for the welfare of children, the advancement of education, and the improvement of instructional opportunities for all. The goal is

to help expand the impact to more seniors who embrace the field of education.

The event will be held on April 19th from 4-8pm (or after your contract day--sorry CMSers) at Fat Pants Brewery in Eden Prairie. The event is designed to be an "Open House Style" social with food, beverages, and giveaways. It is a great way to kick back with colleagues while contributing to a great cause.

This year we have two options to participate in the fundraiser:

1. Donate to the Fund + RSVP to the Fat Pants Social/Raffle Event: ($10/per ticket)

- appetizers

- one beverage ticket (10oz. beverage of your choice)

- hourly raffle prizes

2. Donate to the Fund ($10 minimum)

- want to contribute but unable to attend


Tickets/donations are available now through April 18th for the Donate + RSVP option. Donate and reserve your ticket now.



QCOMP PROGRAM REVIEW:

Specific actions that our district administration is taking have prompted EPEA to take a closer look at our QComp plan that is submitted to MDE versus the current QComp practices carried out.

There are a few elements/practices of the Qcomp plan for which EPS has changed over the years without change updates, such as changing the requirements/qualifications for QComp observers, moving responsibilities of positions from a TOSA position to admin position, having district-level coaches lead PD instead of the teacher leaders, and eliminating other TOSA positions such as building/department QComp Leads.

MDE maintains the notion that all QComp changes must be submitted once they are approved by all parties (district and teachers). Eden Prairie Schools leaders believe they have the authority to change any element of the QComp plan without teacher approval--if it is not specifically included in the MOU, including but not limited to: the number of standards assessed, who oversees the plan, what rubrics are to be used for evaluation, what "proficient" means, what improvement plans look like, PLC requirements, what the Q-Comp monies pay for, who conducts the observations and/or training, and other FTE elements, etc.

MDE has issued a letter to all districts and charter schools with tools to updated 2023-2024 QComp plans. MDE's submission paperwork includes both a district leader's (Superintendent or Director of Human Resources) and the sitting EPEA president's signature indicating both parties approve of the changes. EPS's current stance suggests a change will be submitted without the EPEA president's signature.

EPEA will continue to press for collaborative work in this area. But fundamentally, EPEA will not approve any changes that go against the tenants of developing teachers and teacher leaders or the four areas of the program that are the cornerstones of the program's 2006 beginnings.

  • Career ladder/advancement options (teacher leadership positions and responsibilities)

  • Job-embedded professional development (frequently utilizing teacher leaders and professional learning community structures)

  • Teacher evaluation

  • Performance pay and alternative salary schedules

The QComp MOU may also be a priority during this round of negotiations. Stay tuned.


MORE PRESCHOOL BUZZ at BOARD MEETING:

The February school board meeting was standing room only as Eden Prairie parents communicated their desires to recruit and retain the best preschool teachers. Their comments included the following sentiments:


- high turnover is affecting their children

- they brought their money to EP and expected that all educators were compensated fairly.

- is the district saying that children at the preschool ages are not as important, therefore don't deserve the best teachers?

- only 6 of the 32 teachers who were employed in 2018 remain, high turnover is a concern

- EP is getting a bad reputation for its preschool program due to how it treats its teachers

- EPS is the only public Preschool opportunity for the community; we must do better

The Feb 27 video can be accessed here (minutes 3.20 - 28:20)

You can help by expressing your support of the HF1690 bill to your legislators, which defines early learner/preschool teachers as certified teachers and provides bargaining unit rights with other certified educators.

The EPPEA negotiators are taking final negotiation steps before the possibility of mediation with the district.

Ways the EPEA can walk alongside EPPEA membership:

1. Sign the community petition to show unified support; it can be accessed here.

2. Write your legislator to support HF1690, specifically the definition of early learner teachers as "teachers" and bargaining group protections to allow the EPPEA members to be fully incorporated into the EPEA.

3. If you have sent, are currently send, or in the future may send you own children to Little Eagles Preschool programming, write to the EPS school board of your desire to hire and retain the best preschool teachers through competitive wages.


EPEA LISTENING SESSIONS:

Starting next week, the EPEA negotiator team will be coming to sites/buildings to receive input on the areas of the contract for which improvements are desired. This session will include an overview of our contract layout, time to bounce ideas off of one another, the collection of individual suggestions for contract improvements, and negotiators' next steps.

Please bring your computer.

Here are the details of when representatives from the negotiations team will host listening sessions:

1) March 14 @2:30- Oak Point, Room 261

2) March 16 @8:00- CMS, Room 803

3) March 28 @3:45- EPHS, Room 118

4) March 31 @7:45- Zoom (https://tinyurl.com/ZoomMrBovitz)

5) April 5 @3:30- Eagle Heights, Room 321

6) April 6 @3:30- Forest Hills, Room 186

7) April 18 @2:45- Cedar Ridge, Room 1159

8) April 21 @7:45- Prairie View, Room 313

EPEA members may attend any of the above listening sessions. We are looking forward to seeing you at a listening session.


INVITATION TO IFTAR:

Education Minnesota will be holding a second annual Iftar on April 1 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. An Iftar is one of the observances of Ramadan, and is done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. The meal is taken just after the call to prayer, which is around sunset. Traditionally three dates are eaten to break the fast, in emulation of Muhammad, who broke his fast in this manner, but this is not mandatory. Muslims believe that feeding someone iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding.

Please RSVP by March 28th at 5 p.m. so the Education Minnesota team can plan accordingly. https://cvent.me/aLzMAe


STAFFING TIMELINES BEGIN THIS WEEK:

By March 9th, all probationary staff should know the status of their current position. No matter what that status is, all probationary staff are eligible to participate in ROUND 3 of hiring for any position available within their licensure area.

Here are the ROUNDS of Hiring for review.

ROUND 1: March 10 - 16

- 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 - 31

- 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 - until filled

- 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


Thank you for supporting each other through the winter months. As we head into Spring your voice becomes even more important through both the negotiations and legislative processes. Please continue to engage and "Be the Union": attend a listening session, participate in April 17-21 Union Week, connect with legislators and school board members on matters of concern or support. We are stronger when we all act in solidarity.

In service,

Dominic








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