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September 30, 2023


Welcome to the second newsletter of the 2023-2024 school year!


We hope that you are settling into the school routine. We have met as a rep congress, and your building reps should be sharing information with you at your upcoming EPEA building meeting. Please find additional important information below regarding the EPEA.


EPEA NEWS

NEGOTIATIONS: STAND UNITED!!

As we continue to work at the bargaining table in the areas that directly affect our students: reasonable workload to meet the needs of children, safe working and learning conditions, and fair compensation to keep teachers in the field of education, we would like to report that it is time to visually stand united= wear your SWAG every Wednesday AND DURING PARENT CONFERENCES.


Although there is progress made for our unit’s benefit, there remain key items centered around workload, safe working conditions, and compensation. These areas were identified last spring as being sticking points to our membership. Negotiators were disappointed that the district did not show up to negotiate on Wednesday, Sept. 27, but EPEA team will remain strong and continue to move our collective needs forward. Look for future communication on the EPEA Stand United! actions to bring heightened awareness to the community we serve.


SENIORITY LIST:

According to our contract (Article VII, Section 5, Subd1 and 2) Oct. 1 is the day HR should deliver the seniority report for staff review. A message to your school email will indicate you have 15 days you have to review the list for accuracy. In the event future layoffs must occur, accuracy in your hire date and your licensure area(s) are crucial. If an error is discovered on the seniority list, according to our contract, you must “supply written documentation, proof, and request for seniority change to the school district.” If you have any questions related to continuing contract status (tenure), please first reach out to your site representative.

RE-LICENSURE UPDATE:

The Minnesota Legislature passed a law this last session requiring training for K-12 teachers in “cultural heritage and contemporary contributions of American Indians, with particular emphasis on Minnesota Tribal Nations,” in order to renew their license. Currently, Education Minnesota’s Cultural Competency training meets the requirement for teacher renewing in 2024, but after that, educators will need a specific training to address that new legislation. Education Minnesota is currently in the beginning stages of creating a training for this new requirement that will be free to all members.

PAYCHECK REMINDER:

Until we have reached a settlement for our contract, our compensation is frozen at last year’s step and lane. Although lane change paperwork is due by October 1 and the lane change will be noted in HR, that movement will not be reflected in your payroll check until we have reached agreement. Any October 1 lane change will receive retro pay back to the first day of workshop at the new negotiated rates of pay.



EPEA STAFF:

Member Rights Advocates: The EPEA has 7 trained Member Rights Advocates (MRA) who serve members in times of behavior, conduct or performance-related topics or in instances when a violation to our contract or state/federal law has occurred. These individuals have completed specialized training related to PELRA, state statutes, and federal acts. They have been mentored by veteran MRA and Education Minnesota, and they are ready to serve should support be needed. MRA’s work is confidential, private advocacy work. If you are ever contacted by an administrator for a meeting regarding behavior/conduct/performance, your first connection should be to Carla Thompson, our lead MRA. From there, Carla will walk you through the next steps of advocacy. When contacting Carla Thompson via email, please indicate you have a MRA matter to discuss, without any other details. You could also text Carla to set up a time to chat on the phone: (952) 240-6577




CONTRACT 101:

Article XI: Leaves of Absences, Section 1: Sick Leave, Subd1/Sudb7. Earned Sick Days:

Teachers. All eligible teachers shall earn sick leave at the rate of twelve (12) days for each year of service. Such sick leave shall be a personal benefit to teachers and/or minor dependents. Annual sick leave shall accrue at the beginning of the school year. Part-time teachers shall be eligible for sick leave with such accrual of sick leave days being prorated to their normal day.


What can sick and safe time be used for?

Employees can use their earned sick and safe time for reasons such as:

  • the employee’s mental or physical illness, treatment or preventive care;

  • a family member’s mental or physical illness, treatment or preventive care;

  • absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking of the employee or a family member;

  • closure of the employee’s workplace due to weather or public emergency or closure of a family member’s school or care facility due to weather or public emergency; and

  • when determined by a health authority or health care professional that the employee or a family member is at risk of infecting others with a communicable disease.

Which family members are included?

Employees may use earned sick and safe time for the following family members:

  1. their child, including foster child, adult child, legal ward, child for whom the employee is legal guardian or child to whom the employee stands or stood in loco parentis (in place of a parent);

  2. their spouse or registered domestic partner;

  3. their sibling, stepsibling or foster sibling;

  4. their biological, adoptive or foster parent, stepparent or a person who stood in loco parentis (in place of a parent) when the employee was a minor child;

  5. their grandchild, foster grandchild or step-grandchild;

  6. their grandparent or step-grandparent;

  7. a child of a sibling of the employee;

  8. a sibling of the parents of the employee;

  9. a child-in-law or sibling-in-law;

  10. any of the family members listed in 1 through 9 above of an employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner;

  11. any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship; and

  12. up to one individual annually designated by the employee.

In addition, new legislation was put into place that an employee may “self-certify” their illness up to 7 days (including weekends). If a doctor’s note is requested after that time, the required note should not seek a diagnosis/medical condition; rather, the note should verify that the employee was seen by the health care provider and stipulate any job-related restrictions or timing to return to work.


GUIDANCE from YOUR MEMBER RIGHTS ADVOCATE:

Email Usage:

  • Consider all email sent or received using your school account to be NOT private.

  • Deleted emails are archived in the EPS server at least three years

  • All personal email content, all sensitive/specific EPEA content, or any content one is not willing to have read by the district should be sent via a personal email account.

The EPEA email address is: epea4you@gmail.com


If you are in need of support at an administration meeting, believe there is a contract violation, or have a performance/conduct-related support request, please connect with Carla Thompson (Lead MRA) cthompson@edenpr.org or 952-240-6577)


UPDATE from EDUCATION MINNESOTA:

Don’t miss 2023 MEA keynote speaker Brittany Wagner

Brittany Wagner is a nationally respected athletic academic counselor and motivational speaker best known for her role as the breakout star of the hit Netflix documentary series "Last Chance U."


Recognized for her compassion, encouragement and no-nonsense attitude, Wagner guided many young men to academic and professional success despite run-ins with the law, extreme poverty, abandonment and often a lack of academic preparedness. She has helped more than 200 football players academically qualify for nationally respected NCAA Division I schools, and all of the students Wagner advised who are currently playing in the NFL also hold college degrees.

Wagner is also the author of "Next Chance You," a motivational guide to personal success. Delivering practical strategies to help readers overcome obstacles, develop a growth mindset and get out of their own way; she shares personal stories and lessons learned— from her own life and those she has counseled.


Registration is open until Oct. 13.


What relicensure courses will be available at MEA?

10:45-11:45 a.m. - Reading and Positive Behavior Interventions

1:15-2:15 p.m. - Student Mental Health and Reading

2:30-3:30 p.m. - English Learners and Positive Behavior Interventions

3:45-4:45 p.m. - Student Mental Health, English Learners and QPR (Suicide Prevention)


Relicensure classes fill up especially fast, so sign up today!


Student loan payments resuming next month:

Last spring, Congress passed federal legislation that included an end to the pause on student loan payments and the resumption of interest accrual on loans. Loan servicers have begun to notify borrowers that payments will be required again after Oct. 1. For borrowers participating in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, we advise that you complete the enrollment in an income-driven plan as soon as possible. IDR enrollment can be completed online here.


All borrowers may wish to consider the newest income-driven repayment plan launched this summer, called the SAVE plan. The SAVE plan is designed to provide affordable monthly payments based on 5 percent of family income and limits interest accrual for those who make their payments each month.


Want some help navigating your school debt? Register now for our DND webinar on Oct. 5

Our Degrees Not Debt team will be holding a webinar for all members at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 to discuss resumption of repayments and to run through the current landscape of rules for federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness.


MEMBER BENEFITS:


HAPPENINGS from the SCHOOL BOARD: Sept 25 Board Highlights:


  1. Finished the 22-23 year with a 13.9% fund balance, which is better than expected (budgeted).

2. Enrollment Report: As of September 18th, there are 9,011 students. The official number comes Oct. 1 (K-12 numbers)


3. EPO numbers:

196 high School, 101 Middle school, 198 elementary

495 full time and 193 part-time students,

= up 88 students from projected


4. Board is considering to approve a tax levy in December:

  1. District asks the board to approve a max levy.

  2. Levy amount will be set at the Board Meeting on December 8th (public hearing date).

  3. The district is currently asking for a 6.36% increase, which will equate to about 1.1% increase to a $538K home.

  4. The reason the district needs to ask for this tax increase is due to scheduled principal and interest on debt. The following chart was provided to show where the additional levy monies will be applied in the district.

5. In addition, the district is reporting a +6.38% revenue change for the 24-25 school year from the 23-24 school year. Simply, the district recognizes that MDE will supply 6.38% additional funding for the 24-25 year.


The School Board is changing how Public Comment is to be conducted in the future: new approved procedure will come in an upcoming school board committee report.


School Board Elections this Fall:

Many important school board races are coming up this fall. To help members know the names of the candidates who have been endorsed by local teacher unions, check out edmnvotes.org. As you know, school board endorsements or recommendations are made by local unions, and not all local unions do them.


WHAT'S COMING UP?:

SWAG DAY:

Wear your EPEA Swag at October conferences to visually demonstrate continued support for our negotiation efforts. If parents ask why everyone is wearing their shirts, here is a response: “We continue to stand firm on items that directly affect your child: reasonable workload to meet the needs of children, safe working and learning conditions, and fair compensation to keep teachers in the field of education.”



IT IS WORTH REPEATING:

REGISTER TODAY: TSA (403b) 101 Class: Whether you are just getting started or want to bring clarity to your financial future, on October 5th @4:30, Michael Erickson, with Educators Financial Services, will lead a TSA 101 Zoom meeting to help you gain further knowledge of having a robust Tax Sheltered Annuity for your retirement. Register for the FREE event using the following link: https://calendly.com/michaele-2/403b-intro-meeting


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


"We talk a lot about hope, helping, and teamwork. Our whole message is that we are more powerful together."

-Victoria Osteen


In Solidarity,

Dominic Kirkpatrick, EPEA President

Charles Cooper, EPEA President

Brent Bovitz, EPEA Treasurer

Jessica Premo, EPEA Secretary













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