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September 15, 2023

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


Welcome to the 2023-2024 School Year!


We are continuing to work on negotiating a fair contract that addresses our prioritized needs. Please read the information below regarding our EPEA.





EPEA NEWS:

School Resource Officers: While a few other metro communities have altered their plans, Eden Prairie Schools and the Eden Prairie Police Department continue their partnership to serve those who are within our school community each day.

Short-Call Substitute Pilot: The 2023 Legislature authorized a new pilot program, which expands the eligibility requirements to serve as a short-call substitute teacher in a public school, district, or charter school in Minnesota ("school"). A short-call substitute can replace a teacher of record or fill a vacancy for up to 20 consecutive school days. The following individuals are now eligible to apply for short call substitute license under this pilot program: 1) individuals who hold an associate's degree in any field, or 2) educational support professionals (paraprofessionals) that hold a high school diploma, or equivalent, and have worked for at least one year for the hiring school. In addition, school districts are to compensate an employee serving as a short-call substitute teacher under this pilot with $200 per day or the employee's regular rate of pay - whichever is greater. Eden Prairie Schools is participating in this Short-Call Substitute Pilot.



EPEA NEGOTIATIONS:

What is taking so long? Video Response

Now that the school year has begun, negotiations will continue on Wednesdays from 4-6pm (when both parties are available) until a tentative agreement with the district is reached. On Wednesday, Sept. 6th the negotiations team met with the district to hear counter proposals to the workload, safety, and compensation pieces the EPEA has laid before it. There were some gains in what EPEA is trying to address; however, there were also some responses that could be categorized as disrespectful, dismissive, or divisive. There is more work to do, and we will keep you all updated as we continue to ground ourselves in workload, safety, and compensation improvements.


The biggest concern remains centered in the district’s unilateral action to alter the QComp Plan. The district altered the teach-leader/career ladder and professional development components of the plan, as well as the QComp budget which results in lower payouts for teachers.


There is a clear process of collaboration needed with the QComp Steering committee, EPEA Rep Congress and District Cabinet leadership feedback, and writing of any updates. In addition, outside of the collaboration aspect, the EPEA needs to mutually agree upon a new QComp MOU and then vote upon the plan before any submission to MDE. EPEA has requested the school district engage in conversations facilitated by MDE. That request has not been acknowledged. As a result of a basic standstill, EPEA leadership has now reached out to MDE to initiate facilitation in additional conversations, along with auditing the QComp budget.


In the coming weeks, as we nudge closer to a tentative contract, it is important to remain united in our resolve and stand for the working conditions and compensation that is commensurate with a professional educator.


Action steps will come from your Site Reps in the near future that will bring additional awareness and support from our community during the rest of our negotiations process. Please attend your next site meeting!


Recently, two other bargaining groups settled with the school district. 1) The Building Service group reached a tentative agreement for 5.5% salary increase in year 1 and 3.5% salary increase for year 2 with health insurance improvements and additional paid holidays. 2) The Food Service group reached a tentative agreement for 7.34% salary increase in year 1 and 4.19% salary increase for year 2 with health insurance improvements and additional paid holidays.


EPEA STAFF:

EPEA Site Representatives:

As the first level of support for all EPEA members, Site Representatives serve members at their sites. For every 35 members at the site, there is one Site Representative allotted.


Your Site Representatives holds monthly meetings to share EPEA business and solicit building suggestions/concerns from members and report those back to Rep. Congress. In addition, Site Reps meet monthly with school administration to discuss any topic of concern within the building.



CONTRACT 101:

Payroll Checks: Article VIII, Section 6, Subd 1: “K-12 teachers shall have the option to be paid in twenty-four (24) or twenty (20) equal semi-monthly installments. Paydays shall be the 15th and the last day of each month or the last weekday preceding these days if the 15th or the last day should be a school holiday.” So how do I determine if my paycheck is accurate? This video walks you through it.


TSA(403b) Match: Article XIII, Section 3, Subd 4: “This matching tax-sheltered annuity program will provide a dollar-for-dollar match of an eligible employee’s tax-sheltered annuity up to 2.25% of the employee’s basic salary.” If you are not currently investing at least 2.25% into a TSA, this negotiated benefit is being left on the table, which is actually a cost against our bargaining unit.


September is a great time to rethink your contribution amount for the coming academic year. Below is a list of all the approved vendors for the district TSA match. On October 5th @4:30, Michael Erickson, with Educators Financial Services, will lead a TSA 101 Zoom meeting to help those who want to gain further knowledge of the importance of having a robust Tax Sheltered Annuity for your retirement. Register for the event using the following link: https://calendly.com/michaele-2/403b-intro-meeting





GUIDANCE from YOUR MEMBER RIGHTS ADVOCATE:

Social Media Recommendations:

When you are setting up your profile information on socials, please be aware that if you publicize your workplace as Eden Prairie Schools, you may open yourself up to violating the district’s social media policy that relates to employee speech regarding the topics of religion, political issues, and controversial topics while in the presence of students. “While in the presence of students” does include social media platforms when the posts or comments are made as a school employee to communicate to students and families and not as a member of the general public.


Member Rights Advocates would recommend, if you want to indicate you are an educator and keep comment very vague, that should be okay. But please do not mention Eden Prairie Schools as your affiliation.


UPDATE from EDUCATION MINNESOTA:

Nominations open for the 2023-24 ESP of the Year:

Nominations are open until Sept. 23 for Education Minnesota's Education Support Professional of the Year.


The program honors exemplary professional and union work by an Education Minnesota member in any ESP job category, including paraprofessional/education assistant, secretarial/clerical, custodial, food service, maintenance and trades, transportation, groundskeeping, security, technology services, health services and others. For Eden Prairie, this means any preschool teacher who you feel is extra deserving of acknowledgement!


Please take a few minutes to nominate your preschool colleague(s) for their excellent work in both the classroom and EPEA realms.


MEMBER BENEFITS:

Education Minnesota Benefits:

As a member of Eden Prairie Education Association, you are also eligible for all the AFT and NEA benefits. For example, there are auto, home, and life insurance opportunities. From Education Minnesota, there are also identity theft protections, discounts to state and local entertainment, travel and rental products, and financial planning services.


All benefit information can be located on the Education Minnesota website at the following link: https://educationminnesota.org/membership-benefits/your-benefits/benefit-options/


HAPPENINGS from the SCHOOL BOARD:

July 24th Meeting: Board reviewed student handbooks and provided administration with additional verbal comment: “I want to comment on the record for the board and certainly for administration to hear. We are fundenentally a policy-driven orgainization [. . .]. Over the last couple of years, having my students and receiving comments from parents and staff, I just want to make sure administration hears that as a policy organization we really want to make sure that [. . .] when we are publishing the handbook, we are following the handbooks, right, regardless of race, gender, you know, religion, whatever that is [. . .]. We would want our administration and staff to know they are empowered to follow those handbooks [. . .] We fully would want our staff to follow that handbook completely” --Board Chair Aaron Casper


On September 11, the school board held its second closed session meeting to discuss the purchase of 11902 & 11840 Valley View Road, Eden Prairie MN 55344, a 133 acre campus currently owned by UNFI. There is currently no indication through board discussion in the public record as to the purpose of acquiring the property. The School Board has directed the school district to engage in negotiations to purchase the property.


PENSION UPDATE:

Education Minnesota invites all Education Minnesota members who are interested in educator pension advocacy to join their Facebook group. This is a place where members can connect, chat with the Pension Advisory Group, have productive conversations about pension solutions, and have staff answer questions. The Pension Advisory Group will also be sharing meeting notes, asking questions, giving updates and promoting upcoming events in this Facebook group. You can find notes from the group's July 28 meeting here. If you want to review the pension changes from the 2023 legislative session, they can be reviewed here.


WHAT'S COMING UP?:

September 25: Swag Day

October 5: TSA 101 Zoom @4:30, Register Here:



The EPEA staff is here to support you. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your building site representative.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." -Helen Keller


In Solidarity,

Dominic Kirkpatrick, EPEA President

Charles Cooper, EPEA President

Brent Bovitz, EPEA Treasurer

Jessica Premo, EPEA Secretary












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