Monday, April 12, 2010

EXTRA: The eternal sunshine of a spotted contract

4LAKids: Monday 12•April•2010 EXTRA
In This Issue:
TEACHERS & ADMINISTRATORS ACCEPT CONTRACT: LA Times & UTLA Reports + Vote count+sordid details
SCHOOL BELL COULD RING A LITTLE EARLIER FOR LAUSD: LAUSD weighs benefits of revising calendars
What can YOU do?

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Monday morning – Please excuse this extra edition, the announced result of the UTLA vote on the new contract and school calendar was announced after 4LAKids went to press or online or wherever e-newsletters go when they go there.

I have been asked by parents to publish the new end-of- school-year calendars, the short form answers for parents and students follow (see the UTLA link for teacher/administrator impact). The school board is yet to approve this deal – they will Tuesday. And if you read the article from the Daily News following (SCHOOL BELL COULD RING A LITTLE EARLIER) there is a chance they will further tweak calendars for next year in some places.

I'm trying not to rant – this deal probably is the best one can expect from the crowd we have now in the situation they find themselves in.

Pogo Possum said: "We have met the enemy ...and he is us!" – but sometimes “we” is not as all-inclusive as one would hope.

The approval of this contract and calendar change by votes of teachers, administrators and the board – with no input or consultation with parents and the community points out an utter absence of accountability, and transparency and parent/community engagement.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant." - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” –Steve Martin

The "sunshine" clause of The Rodda Act [Senate Bill 160/1975] requires that each party's collective bargaining proposal be presented for public comment at a publicized school board meeting. Any new subjects raised later must be made public within 24 hours, and the school board must explain the financial impact of any proposed settlement before adopting the final contract. [EdData -]

One interpretation of this states: “In California the Rodda Act, passed in the California State Legislature in 1975, has a sunshine clause that requires that DURING CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS each party’s proposal must be presented for public comment at a publicized school board meeting.
“ANY NEW SUBJECTS RAISED LATER MUST BE MADE PUBLIC WITHIN 24 HOURS, and the school board must explain the financial impact of any proposed settlement before adopting the final contract.” []

THE RODDA ACT SB 160 (Educational Employee Relations Act Chapter 961, Statutes of 1975) can be found here:

The SUNSHINE CLAUSE [] states:
ARTICLE 8 - PUBLIC NOTICE §3547. Proposals relating to representation; informing public; adoption of proposal; new subjects; regulations
(a) All initial proposals of exclusive representatives and of public school employers, which relate to matters within the scope of representation, shall be presented at a public meeting of the public school employer and thereafter shall be public records.
(b) Meeting and negotiating shall not take place on any proposal until a reasonable time has elapsed after the submission of the proposal to enable the public to become informed and the public has the opportunity to express itself regarding the proposal at a meeting of the public school employer.
(c) After the public has had the opportunity to express itself, the public school employer shall, at a meeting which is open to the public, adopt its initial proposal.
(d) New subjects of meeting and negotiating arising after the presentation of initial proposals shall be made public within 24 hours. If a vote is taken on such subject by the public school employer, the vote thereon by each member voting shall also be made public within 24 hours.
(e) The board may adopt regulations for the purpose of implementing this section, which are consistent with the intent of the section; namely that the public be informed of the issues that are being negotiated upon and have full opportunity to express their views on the issues to the public school employer, and to know of the positions of their elected representatives.

My memory of any of those things actually happening is lacking.

A new week begins – ¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


Final student day: June 18 (pupil‐free day June 21)*
If your school took a pupil‐free day on Feb. 8, your final student day will be June 21.

90/30 Track A
Final student day: June 24

90/30 Track B
Final student day: June 24

90/30 Track C
Final student day: June 24

90/30 Track D
Final student day: April 29

Con 6 Track A
Final student day: June 25

Con 6 Track B
Final student day: June 25
+ 2 minimum days in May** (set by SDMC/SBM)

Con 6 Track C
Final student day: April 23
+ 2 minimum days in April* (set by SDMC/SBM)

**Concept 6 schools would add two additional minimum days (dates to be set by the school governance council). Track A and C would take them in April and Track B would take them in May.

PS: Sunday afternoon I got a preview of Diane Ravitch's presentation @ UCLA this afternoon – Thank you Yea Lan & David. If you can: Be there, be there, be there!


TEACHERS & ADMINISTRATORS ACCEPT CONTRACT: LA Times & UTLA Reports + Vote count+sordid details

By Jason Song | LA Times

April 11, 2010 -- Los Angeles teachers union members have ratified a deal to shorten the school calendar this and next year, officials announced Saturday.

Nearly 80% of United Teachers Los Angeles members who cast ballots approved of the deal, which could save the Los Angeles Unified School District up to $140 million, save the jobs of about 2,100 employees and maintain class sizes.

Under the agreement, which was negotiated over several months, teachers would take an unpaid day off the Friday before Memorial Day and schools would close four days earlier for summer vacation. Seven additional instructional days would be cut from the 2010-11 academic year.

The school district is facing a budget deficit of up to $640 million and has been searching for ways to cut costs. Several unions, including those representing cafeteria workers and bus drivers, have agreed to take unpaid days off. Many non-unionized district employees, including upper management, have also begun to take furloughs.

School district and union leaders had previously said they were against shortening the school year because it would hurt instruction and amount to a pay cut for teachers. But officials decided it was the best option to preserve classroom jobs.

"I appreciate the understanding of the district's teachers and the sacrifices they are making in instructional time and salary," Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said in a statement.
Instructors will have to condense their lesson plans to fit the schedule, and many parents will have to make alternative child-care plans.

The agreement will become effective if approved by the school board Tuesday.

"I have no reason to think it won't" be approved, said board member Yolie Flores, who called it the best choice under the circumstances.

The administrators union has tentatively agreed to a similar deal. Members are voting by mail and results should be known this week. Administrators union members have said they expect the deal to be approved.

Even if the deals are approved, school district officials will have to cut millions to avoid going into the red. Teachers union President A.J. Duffy said he would keep pressing for more cuts to the district's bureaucracy.

"We will be vigilant in continuing to force the district to be more efficient and to drive resources to local school sites," Duffy said.


from UTLA

UTLA members voted to approve the tentative agreement reached last month with LAUSD, with 79.27% of the members voting yes on the agreement and 20.73% voting no. A total of 27,486 ballots were cast.

Votes were counted at UTLA headquarters and posted on the website today, April 10. The School Board will vote on the agreement on Tuesday, April 13.

The savings generated by the furlough days in the agreement will maintain class sizes and save more than 2,100 jobs for the 2010-11 school year without a permanent pay cut. This agreement is a short-term, two-year agreement. UTLA’s bargaining team successfully fought off LAUSD’s proposal for up to a 12% permanent salary cut.

UTLA and our members must continue to work for permanent, long-term solutions to education funding. If the state funding situation improves, UTLA will have the option of reopening on all economic issues.

UTLA will send a fax to schools on Monday with information on how RIFs will be rescinded and how the agreement affects the matrix process.


Even though furlough days have not been taken yet, most employees will have from one to three days’ pay (depending on your school calendar and track) deducted from the May 5 paycheck. This is being done so that the impact of the furlough days is spread over multiple paychecks, instead of hitting all on one. See the “furlough day implementation” chart on for details for your calendar/track.

Detailed Vote Results

- Tentative Agreement text
- Tentative Agreement Q&A
- Tentative Agreement presentation
- Furlough day implementation chart

From the AALA Update Newsletter | Week of April 5

Recently, AALA published the fact that the District had hired Dick Fisher, a retired attorney, for $250,000 for a six-month period to head negotiations with UTLA and AALA. It should be noted that Mr. Fisher capably served the District in years past.

AALA also just received information regarding another part-time employee hired by the District. It seems that the District has a contract with the legal firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker,LLP, for the services of attorney Eric Joss, at an hourly rate of $590, to represent the District in negotiations with AALA and classified unions. As of March 26, 2010, in a letter to Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, from Kathleen E. Collins, LAUSD’s Associate General Counsel, Mr. Joss has worked 530 hours to date, which is equivalent to 13 ½ weeks of work for a sum total of $312,700.

AALA asks:

· What are the 37 full-time attorneys employed by the District doing now that makes them unavailable to serve as negotiators for the District?

· Have any attorneys been reduced in force to help pay these two part-time employees?

· Is the need for outside legal help a compliment to AALA’s negotiators? Are they so "intimidating" that special assistance is needed to effectively negotiate with them?

The District needs to take a look at these "extra" expenditures during times of fiscal crisis and evaluate their worth. Or perhaps the District leadership believes they are assisting President Obama by increasing employment!

SCHOOL BELL COULD RING A LITTLE EARLIER FOR LAUSD: LAUSD weighs benefits of revising calendars
By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

12 April 2009 – Summers could get shorter for thousands of local teens who would start the fall semester three weeks before Labor Day if new school calendars are approved by Los Angeles Unified officials this week.

LAUSD board members will vote on two plans Tuesday that would affect school start times and winter and summer breaks for 16 San Fernando Valley high schools.

The first plan would start classes for 13 local high schools on Aug. 16 and end the year on June 3. The goal is to simulate the college calendar and allow students to take winter finals before their December vacations start.

A separate plan being considered Tuesday would put three high schools in the East San Fernando Valley on a calendar that starts the year on Aug. 9 and ends it on June 23. Students would be required to attend two 90-day sessions each year, with six-week breaks in between. Some students could also attend school during the breaks to brush up on skills or retake classes.

The second plan is specifically designed to boost low student achievement and sagging test scores at East Valley schools where students will be able to take more remedial courses during the breaks.

The pilot programs, which would begin in the upcoming 2010-11 school year, could be rolled out districtwide if they are successful.

LAUSD has used separate school calendars for years, usually putting students on year-round schedules to address overcrowding. But educators say this is the first
time the district has changed the calendars specifically to address the needs of students.

"Our school calendar is set up from September to June because it's founded in the ideals of an agrarian society ... Well, there is no longer a need to set it up that way," said Gerardo Loera, principal at Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley.

"Now we can look at what the realities of today are, what the needs are and what the research shows."

For Loera, those realities involve a high percentage of students learning English, others with learning disabilities and a large number who simply struggle academically and need a chance to make up failed classes.

Most students attending Polytechnic also come from low-income families who cannot afford to put their kids in academic enrichment programs or camps during summer. This leaves many kids with too much free time to get into trouble and forget lessons learned in school.

That is why Loera believes a calendar that allows him to have shorter breaks in between semesters and more time for remedial and enrichment classes is the best option for his students.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he fully supports high school educators taking the initiative to get creative with their calendars. "One size doesn't fit all," Cortines said.

"I am, more and more, trying to do what schools want."

While the program is now just limited to high schools, Cortines wants to have all schools adopt the more college-like calendar by the 2011-12 school year.

"I think starting the school year earlier and ending the semester with a break is better," he said. "It doesn't cut up the first semester and gives us a true ending and a true beginning."

In 2003 a similar plan to have all schools in the district move to an earlier start of the school year was fiercely opposed by parents, especially in the West San Fernando Valley where temperatures often hit the triple digits during mid-August.

Also the plan could create headaches for parents trying to plan summer vacations if they have an elementary or middle school child on one calendar and a high school student on another.

Haylie Anderson, a 10th-grader at Canoga Park High School, said she'll definitely miss a few extra weeks of summer vacation.

"I actually like the length of my summers," Anderson said. "With my family we take long vacations, we go dirt biking, visit Palm Springs ... That is probably going to get cut short this year."

Athletic directors are also scratching their heads as to how so many different calendars might affect sports competitions.

Mark Drucker, athletic director at Taft High School, said he is concerned that sports competitions will be difficult to schedule if high schools are on different calendars.

Jackie Keene, a mother of a freshman attending El Camino Real High School, said she remembers being opposed to the idea of starting the school year in August when it was first proposed in 2003.

But she's changed her mind.

"This helps the high-achieving kids who want to do better in their advanced placement courses or who want to take more college courses" because students don't have a winter break between studies and their finals when they can forget what they've learned, she said.

"And it helps kids like my son, who need to have a real break for the winter and a fresh start in the spring," Keene said. "I think the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term inconvenience."

Despite previous opposition, district officials say they have received virtually no complaints this time.

"Maybe our communities are in a different place now," said board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents the West San Fernando Valley.

Galatzan said she sees giving the schools the new calendar as a way to swap funding for flexibility.

"Right now we find ourselves asking schools what we can do to help them that won't cost us any money," Galatzan said. "So many schools have done this with good results ... And we are already one of the latest starting school districts in the area."

Several neighboring school districts, including Ventura County and Burbank Unified, already start their school years in mid-August.

And while the East Valley calendar is a bit more complex and unique, educators at those schools are confident that their targeted plan will be a great way to help students who need additional help while also allowing other students to take advantage of the added instructional time to take enrichment courses.

"This helps us feel empowered to be creative and meet needs of our students with less resources," Loera said.

"We have to be able to question the traditional way of doing things when it no longer makes sense to do things that way."


Under a new school calendar proposal, the following high schools would start class Aug. 19: Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Grover Cleveland, El Camino, Robert F. Kennedy, James Monroe, Northridge Academy, Daniel Pearl Journalism and Communications Magnet, Reseda, Taft, Sylmar, Van Nuys, Verdugo, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

These high schools would start Aug. 9 and have six-week summer and winter sessions for students needing remedial help and enrichment programs: Arleta, Sun Valley and Francis Polytechnic.


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD. He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represents PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He is an elected Representative on his neighborhood council. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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