Extended Day settlement talks break down

A version of this piece was sent to DCTA members last week.

DCTA filed the ELO grievance because we believe DPS is mandating several schools to expand their day without a fair process or fair compensation – and is doing so without bargaining the issue as directed by our contract.   Article 8-2-2 of the Master Agreement between DCTA and DPS is clear:  “The District’s scheduled student school contact day will not be extended without applying the due process of collective bargaining.”  The grievance also lists other contract provisions that we believe are being violated as the District refuses to bargain the issue.

Since filing this grievance at the beginning of February, DCTA representatives have tried in every way possible to settle this grievance before going to Level III of the grievance process.  Level III, which involves a hearing with an outside arbitrator, can be a time-consuming course of action.  “Soon after filing the grievance, the superintendent indicated he was willing to work with us on the major elements we identified that could have resolved the concerns surrounding the ELO process.  Knowing that arbitration can be an extensive process, we decided to give settlement talks a chance,” says Henry Roman, DCTA president,  “We are disappointed that, after meeting with District representatives for several lengthy conversations, they finally let us know this week that they are not going to consider meeting any of our identified issues.  In essence, they have not moved from the positions they had when we first filed the grievance.”

These major issues are:

  • Teacher Voice in determining the quality of the plan. Experience, research on best practices and basic respect for the profession all indicate that the teachers affected by the changes must have the opportunity to vote on the merits of the complete plan before implementation.
  • Agreement on important District and school accountability elements. These elements include measurement, evaluation, and implementation of proven innovative practices vs. “more of the same,” and attention to safety of students and possible liability issues.  In addition, a commitment is needed from the District to give involved schools at least a three year period to implement without being penalized by what the research says will likely be an “implementation dip” in test scores at the beginning of the changes. We do not want to see schools unfairly targeted for turnaround because they agreed to a major change such as this.
  • Cost analysis and sustainability within the DPS budget.  In a time when teacher’s salaries have been frozen, and the forecast for the 2012-2013 school year includes more cuts to the DPS budget, it is irresponsible to begin new programs without a clear idea of a sustainable funding source.  We need to make sure we can meet the obligations to current teacher salaries and student resources – before we add additional demands to the DPS budget.
  • Fair compensation for extra hours worked. Currently, the District is offering an hourly rate for those who would extend their work day.  This hourly rate is less than the rate paid for professional development activities or for teaching summer school – and yet these teachers would be extending their teaching duties every teaching day of an entire school year.

We would like to see District Central Administration officials stop issuing mandates and directives targeted at affected schools until the above matters can be resolved. But, given their track record so far, we don’t have much hope they will take that kind of reasonable stance.

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