Monday, April 30, 2012

April 27, 2012 - Negotiations Highlights

GEA - GSD Negotiations
April 27, 2012

 The meeting began around 3:15 PM. Les Nakasaki facilitated the meeting for the Association. Michael Coughlin was the recorder for the District.

The session began with a continued discussion of calendar. The District reported that beginning the calendar in August would present difficulties in regards to payroll and payments to STRS. They proposed calendars beginning (Orientation) on August 24th, August 31st and September 4th. They also discussed pros and cons from the District perspective surrounding these calendars.

After a caucus, the Association stated they could agree to an August 31st start date, with unit members being paid for their one work day in August in a separate check. The remainder of the 182 day calendar would be split among 10 equal payments.

The District caucused and came back with a recommendation to begin the school year with orientation day on September 4th or August 24th. Their preference was to begin on September 4th in order to avoid having to spend the man hours necessary to create new payroll schedules based on teachers working during 11 calendar months. The Association agreed to do informal polling before the next session, but wasn't sure if they could do a formal poll prior to the next session. Discussion of Calendar was then tabled.

The discussion then moved to future bargaining dates. The following dates were agreed to.

  • May 7 - 3-5PM
  • May 14 - 3-5 PM
  • May 21 - 9AM-3PM
  • June 1 - 3-5PM
Salary was the next order of business. The Association countered the prior documents from the District with two pages. These pages had been prepared for the prior session on April 16th, but were nor presented at that time due to extended discussion regarding calendar. They can be found at the following links. (Narrative, Spreadsheet)

The Association explained their position that until RIFs are rescinded, they should be included in budget discussions. The Association also stated that since cuts are based on a two year projection, the effects of RIFs must be looked at over two years as well. Prior documents from the District only looked at a one year effect.

There was a discussion regarding the prep periods at the intermediate schools. The District stated they did not want to cut the prep periods, but the $529,000 in savings would have to be found elsewhere. The District mentioned the concept of contingency language in regards to certain RIFs, but did not propose and specific language.

The District also came back with some preliminary amended calculations regarding cuts and salary based on the paperwork presented by the Association. They stated they would present a more formal presentation of the amended numbers at the next session.

Before ending the session, the Association asked whether the District was ready to respond to the staff development questions (found here) from the last session. The District responded that Mary Suzuki would email the response to our questions prior to the next session.

The meeting ended at approximately 7 PM.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Contentious School Board Meeting

Emotions ran a bit hot at the last School Board Meeting on the 19th. The meeting was held at Bitely School to accommodate the large crowd.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune ran an article about the meeting. It can be found at the following link.

There are some inaccuracies, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 16, 2012 - Negotiation Highlights

GEA - GSD Negotiations
April 16, 2012

The sessions was facilitated by Genaro Alarcon for the District. Ken Tang was the recorder from the Association.

The Association began with an insight regarding communications. The District agreed on April 3rd that it would "post negotiation documents separate from its own summary of the bargaining session." As of April 16th, the District had not yet segregated the two types of documents on their website. The Association pointed this out, and the District agreed it would work to make the distinction on its website.

The District distributed three calendars for the 2012-13 school year. The majority of the session was spent discussing these calendar options. The three calendars have starting Orientation days of August 17, 2012, August 24, 2012 and August 31, 2012. Highlights of the discussion are presented below.

  • It was noted by the Association that one of the calenders (beginning 8/17) was different than what had agreed upon at the previous bargaining session. The District explained that starting on the 27th of August would be problematic because payroll is due to LA County on that date. They would not know who actually reported to work prior to having to submit payroll to the county.
  • Another consideration was the August start date. Even with the calendar beginning on the 31st of August, there may be issues caused by rule changes and enforcement by STRS. Michael Coughlin said he would discuss the matter on April 17th with the appropriate parties, because he would be attending a meeting with STRS representatives that day.
  • Issues regarding the late notice to all stakeholders for a drastically changed 2012-2013 calendar were discussed. This led to discussions about looking at the calendar for the next two years instead of just one.
  • The District plans to survey parents in regards to their preferences about calendar options. There was a lengthy discussion about the type of survey questions, as well as how the survey would be done in relation to validity and reliability. The District agreed it would allow the Association to give input on the survey. The District would consider this input before going forward with the survey. The survey will take place soon, and use statistical randomization tables in order to ensure a useful outcome.
  • The time line for implementation of a calendar will be dependent upon the time needed to create, conduct and analyze the parent survey.
The Association presented a set of questions regarding staff development spending during this school year as well as projections for the next two years. The questions can be found here. These questions and answers will be used in the next session to discuss staff development.

The next session is scheduled for April 27, 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 2, 2012 Highlights

GEA - GSD Negotiations
April 2, 2012

Gloria Lopez served as facilitator until she had to leave. Pat Molina took over as facilitator at that time. Robin Libby served as the recorder.

The District stated they would be unable to offer an early retirement incentive this year. They explored many options, but concluded none were feasible this year. The District expressed its deep regret in being unable to offer an incentive this year.

The District stated it would post negotiation documents separate from its summary of bargaining sessions and other items not expressly part of the formal negotiation sessions. The District also agreed to place a link on its website which would point to GEA's posting of negotiation summaries.

Calendar for the upcoming school year was discussed at length. In the end it was decided that the District would provide 3 calendars to GEA. These calendars would have starting Orientation Day dates of August 24th, 27th and 31st. Information would also be forthcoming regarding the distribution of paychecks, since these calendars would have GEA members working during 11 calendar months. Once the calendars were given to GEA, a survey would be conducted among unit members as to their preference.

There was a discussion regarding GEA's rights in regards to political activity. A decision was made to have the counsel from GEA contact the counsel from GSD to try and agree on the legal rights of the Association. This hastened timeline is necessitated by the political work being done surrounding the Governor's budget proposition.

Future bargaining dates include April 16, 2012 and April 27, 2012.

March 30, 2012 Highlights

GEA – GSD Negotiation Highlights
March 30, 2012

Genaro Alarcon served as facilitator and Cathie Camacho served as recorder.

GEA followed up on its desire to post its own statement concerning negotiations on the District's website. The District stated that since it was not responsible for the content of GEA's statements, they could not post any statements from GEA on their website. GEA could post their commentary on their own site.

GEA asked whether the parties would be engaging in interest based bargaining since it is in fact the policy of the school board. The District responded we could continue the practice of interest based bargaining. GEA then stated that interest based bargaining usually means information remains confidential until communicated jointly. The District responded that the District has an interest in transparency so they felt placing information regarding bargaining on the District website was appropriate. They also stated they had no intention of removing the information from the website. 

GEA requested that the District make a distinction on its website between items formally presented at the table and opinion pieces such as the "Letter to Parents" and the "Negotiation Summaries." The District thought this would be possible but would have to verify with the Superintendent.

The issue of communication was to be taken up again at the next session.

The District responded to GEA in regards to the effects of certificated layoffs. (available here)

The District proposed a calendar which had students beginning on August 20, 2012. Teachers would report on August 17th for Orientation Day. The calendar lines up with the Alhambra School District Calendar. A link to the calendar is not available at this time.

The next session was set for April 2, 2012.

200 at the last Board Meeting

Over 200 people attended the last School Board Meeting on  March 29th. Many were protesting Superintendent Johnson and the School Board's decision to remove Principal Collaso from Willard School.

Mrs. Collaso has worked closely with teachers and parents to help raise test scores and win a Title 1 AA Award in 2011.

The next meeting will be on April 19th at 6:30 PM.

The Truth About Garvey

A blogger simply named Garvey Teacher has been writing about the situation we all find ourselves in here at the Garvey School District. The blog is called "The Truth About Garvey." Two of the blog entries are especially pertinent here.

The first is entitled "Collaboration is Dead." It speaks about the Garvey School District Local Educational Agency Plan.

The second is entitled "The Budget Committee."

To read the entire blog, click here.

The Illusion of Collaboration

The Leadership Team

Before Dr. Johnson’s arrival, the teachers at Garvey School District schools decided who they would like to represent them on their school site leadership team. That all changed with the arrival of Superintendent Johnson.

o       Leadership teams were slipped in during the summer.
o       The Leadership Teams are now chosen by administration and are essentially an arm of administration. They do as they are told and at some schools, teams have been chastised for leaking information to other teachers.
o       Teachers have no say as to what topics are to be discussed because they are simply carrying out the agenda of administration.
o       The leadership teams are perfect examples of the appearance of teacher input, but the bottom line is administration gets what they want, one way or another. Administration knows what their end objectives are and if the work the leadership team doesn’t fit the objective, it is thrown out. If it does fit, the team is congratulated for their hard work.

Two examples from Garvey Intermediate. 

1. Garvey teachers spent a couple of Wednesdays working on master schedule ideas at the behest or the school’s leadership team via administration. In the end, these ideas were not used and the parameters were set by administration.

2. Early in the leadership team process, Garvey teachers considered having the leadership team lead Wednesday Collaboration Sessions. The principal said it would be inappropriate for the leadership team to run the collaboration meetings because she runs the leadership team and she would therefore have to lead the Wednesday meetings. The leadership team does not exist without her.

 As hard working as all the teachers serving on leadership teams are, their function is essentially "assistant to the principal." No collaboration here, just working administration's agenda, through chosen teachers.

Parents Go Unheard

Superintendent Johnson and the School Board disregard parental and community input at Board Meetings.

In the Spring of 2011, parents attended several Board Meetings and spoke in favor of continuing the successful Honors Program at Garvey Intermediate. 

Dr. Johnson stated the School board does not get involved in curricular issues. She stated the decision would be made by the site principal, but the principal did not make the decision.

The Honors Program was cut in half at the Superintendent's direction and the School Board's full knowledge and acquiescence. 

Acquiescence is not leadership.

Unjustified Layoffs

The District has a 14.5% reserve, totaling over $6.5 million, but they have cut over 30 teachers. 

These excessive cuts must be stopped.
Despite being in a terrible financial situation at the state level, the District has managed to increase its bottom line to a 14.5% reserve. They have also laid off over 30 teachers. Declining ADA and other factors do not justify this many RIF notices. Peoples lives should not be disrupted unnecessarily. Rescind the RIFs.


Superintendent Johnson and the School Board disregarded the safety of students and employees during the windstorms and a water main break.

o       During the wind storms, two of the Garvey District schools were without power. This also meant no heat. Superintendent Johnson decided to leave these schools open. She said it was “an adventure.” Teachers and students had to navigate dark hallways and bathrooms and rooms with windows that didn’t face the sun were very dark.

o       After the first day, GEA asked the superintendent to cancel classes the following day for safety reasons. It was dangerous getting to and from school without even considering a day at school in the dark. The Alhambra police department recommended that Alhambra schools close and they did. Rosemead also closed their schools, but Garvey remained open. Again, the district made its decision without regard for others. There was power at the District Office.

o       On another day, the water main broke at Rice School. The students were sent home, but teachers had to remain on duty even though there was no running water.

March 19, 2012 Highlights

GEA – GSD Negotiation Highlights
March 19, 2012

            It was agreed that facilitation of meetings would alternate between the parties. Since Mr. Garcia facilitated the last meeting, Les Nakasaki facilitated the meeting for GEA while Genaro Alarcon was the recorder.

            Norms were agreed to. (available here)

            GEA asked for a response from the District regarding the posting of negotiation information on its website. GEA had previously asked for equal space for its proposal as well as a cover letter on the District’s website. The District stated it would post all materials exchanged at the table, but the team was not authorized to agree to posting a cover letter on the District’s Website since such a letter would not be part of negotiations. The District Team agreed to follow up with the Superintendent.

            GEA presented its initial bargaining proposal. (available here)

            GEA presented a response to the District’s salary proposal. (available here)

            Future bargaining dates are March 30th and April 2nd.

March 15, 2012

There was no bargaining session on March 15th, but there was an interesting development.

The Garvey School District posted a cover letter as well as all the documents which were distributed during the March 12th session on their website. This went against interest based bargaining tenets as understood by the Garvey Education Association. In interest based bargaining, notification to the public is done jointly unless the parties decide to waive this practice. There was no discussion about the matter. This new practice was begun without the knowledge of the parties involved.

It will be determined as to whether equal access is granted to both sides.

March 12, 2012 Highlights

GEA – GSD Negotiation Highlights
March 12, 2012

          List of Bargaining Team Members


Pat Kasababian – Bargaining Chair
Les Nakasaki
Ken Tang
Cathie Camacho
Gloria Lopez
Pat Molina (alternate)
Michael Drange – ex-officio
Terry Skotnes – GEA Executive Director


Genaro Alarcon
Michael Coughlin
Mary Suzuki
Robin Libby
Bonifacio Bonny Garcia

            Noteworthy was the inclusion of Mr. Garcia. It has been more than a decade since the District placed their attorney at the bargaining table.

            Mr. Garcia acknowledged that historically GEA and GSD had engaged in interest based bargaining. He asked how would the parties wished to proceed.

            The District had prepared a 25 page document spelling out the specific proposals from the District as well as data comparing the Garvey District with other districts.

            GEA questioned why we were immediately abandoning interest based bargaining. In interest based bargaining, both sides speak to their interests on a subject before any options are placed on the table. Distribution of the proposal from the District violated these tenets. The District did not respond directly.

            GSD presented their updated initial bargaining proposal as well as information comparing school districts. GEA declined hearing the budget presentation from the District as all members present had heard the presentation at the March 8thSchool Board Meeting.

            GEA did not make a presentation.