Calendar of Events
September 10, 2020
I know it's been a challenging and chaotic week with the rollout of new attendance and participation requirements. Some of the challenges may be unavoidable because the state has made participation a factor in how districts get their funding. However the rollout of the new procedures has obviously created a lot of confusion and frustration. In the days ahead FMEA will work with the district to hopefully make the procedures clearer and less burdensome. Communication could have been a lot better on this. Unfortunately I think the reality is that the participation logs are going to be extra work, if the state doesn't change their requirements. To that end I have gotten word that CTA is working to get the requirements reduced, but there are no guarantees on that, and it could take awhile,
The PD that was rolled out last week also created a lot of frustration. FMEA is now working with the district to create a calendar of PD so that any required PD would be planned with sensitivity around how many other required meetings there are in any given week. Ideally all required PD will be held on Wednesdays. Most likely Ed Services will be sending out a survey so they can plan PD in accordance with what works for us.
FMEA's Equity Team meet-and-greet that had been planned for tomorrow has been postponed. The new date is October 2nd at 4:15. Our Equity Team, Imelda Murillo and Edgar Quiroz-Medrano, will send out a Zoom invite.
Lastly, FMEA and Ed Services are still reviewing site instructional minutes. Many sites are over the minimums, so as I mentioned in my last email, if you are being pressured to provide more than the minimums (see Friday's email for specifics) let me know ASAP. If teachers and schools choose willingly to go above the minimums that shouldn't be a problem.
September 4, 2020
Some sites are still finalizing their schedules but overall I am seeing many sites going over the agreed upon minimum instructional day and synchronous time. That is fine, as long as you are not being pressured by your principal to agree to a longer day. The minimum student day is three hours for TK/K, three hours fifty minutes for grades 1-3 and fours hours for 4th grade and up. That does not include breaks. Minimum teacher synchronous instruction time is two hours for TK/K and two and a half hours for all other grades. You can go over the minimum student day and/or synchronous instruction time, but if you are being pressured to do so please let me know.
Prop 15 (formerly known as Schools And Communities First) is incredibly important and I will be repeating this message until the November election. By passing Prop 15, we will close loopholes that keep some of the state's biggest corporations from paying their fair share of taxes. Please make sure to speak to your friends and families about the importance of Prop 15. It will bring over $5M to our district alone! I've attached a page of talking points.
The CTA Leadership Conference begins next week and is online, free and open to all this year. There are all sorts of electives available on topics ranging from social justice to special ed. Here's a link https://ctago.org/events/2020-cta-region-i-leadership-conference/#program_hook
This year CTA cards will be delivered directly to your home. They will be in the fall issue of CTA's Educator magazine coming to you soon.
Lastly, there are open spots for CTA State Council, which is the elected body that charts CTA's path forward. Most years State Council meets in L.A. four times a year, though this year meetings will be virtual. This is an incredible way to get involved and make a difference in the positions and plans of CTA. For those interested, I've attached a declaration of candidacy which also includes many more details. The deadline to declare your candidacy is September 10th.
I know distance learning has a whole range of new challenges to overcome. If you are feeling stuck or not getting the support you need please feel free to reach out to me anytime and I'll do my best to help.
Have a great long weekend!
August 28, 2020
Many in our community have been impacted by the wildfires surrounding our region. I am aware of two FMEA members who lost their homes to fire, and encourage us all to donate generously to support our colleagues in this most challenging time. If you know of other FMEA members seeking financial support due to the fires let me know.
Double Tragedy - Loss Of Fiancé Then Their Home, organized by Kimberly Constantino
Rep Council Highlights
1. Instructional Minutes: I'm still reviewing site schedules as is Ed Services. Admin cannot require more than 2.5 hours of synchronous instruction, and sites cannot require longer than a 4 hour student day. Many sites are appear to be extending the student day beyond 4 hours, and if you choose to do so, that is fine, but students aren't held accountable for work beyond the 4 hour day, and teachers will not be required to prepare plans or do grading for time anything outside the 4 hour student day.
2. Technology: Principals are currently submitting site tech needs to IT. Many of the district's new Chromebooks have been stuck in a port for months and may not arrive until October. A fresh batch of hotspots just came in so there are lots Verizon and T-Mobile hotspots, though there won't be any for teachers until it is certain that all students have access.
All students leaving their home school were supposed to return their devices at the end of the 19/20 school year, but I've heard many of you concerned that 6th graders went off with devices that belonged to your school. The district says that there will be an inventory at the end of the year and those schools that lost devices will get them returned.
Also, the district will be supplying devices for all schools to be at 1:1 for all students, so sites should not need to budget for this. The district also has thousands of headsets to distribute as needed to students, but these apparently do not have microphones.
3. CORAL: The district is supposedly fully disinfecting all rooms daily that are used by CORAL. Admin is supposed to placing CORAL in unused rooms when possible.
4. PPE: The district has personal protective equipment for teachers. Ask your principal if you want access.
5. Keenan videos: Completion of the videos is due September 19. Principals have been directed to provide the necessary time to complete it. If your principal does not give you sufficient time let me know (Note: admin can count free time without trainings on 8/12 and 8/13 towards the Keenan videos).
6. FMEA Site Visits: I will begin after school FMEA site visits September 8th via Zoom. There is lots to discuss, including the importance of passing Prop 15 in November. This proposition (formerly known as "Schools And Communities First") will bring $5M to FMSD annually if it passes, so it is extremely important that we all speak to our friends and family to let them know educators say YES ON 15!!!
7. Rep Council Calendar: FMEA Rep Council is open to all members. All meetings will be on Zoom until further notice. Below is our calendar of meetings for the 2020/21 school year. 8/24 9/21 10/26 12/7 1/25 2/22 3/22 4/26 5/24
This will be a year like no other. We have a good MOU to guide and protect us but there will no doubt be challenges, misunderstandings and complications. Let me know when these arise and I will do my best to help.
Have a great weekend,
August 14, 2020
I know tensions are high, as many of us feel uneasy and unprepared for launching the new school year on Monday. I know there are some big gaps in technology, communication and expectations, but I think the best approach is to know that no one expects us to get this right from day one. This is a herculean task that schools really needed a year to prepare for, not a month. So breath deeply, reach out to me or your principal with questions, and know that no one is expecting things to go perfectly on Monday (or any day next week for that matter). Also, note that the full synchronous time does not need to be in place until October break. This will take time to set up and refine. For now the goal is to rebuild relationships with our students and begin putting everything in place.
FMEA and the district did sign off on our COViD MOU today. I have attached the final version, though it hasn't changed since the last version I sent out. There are two things I would like to highlight:
1. Though we are only working 2.5 hours directly with students on Zoom, that does not mean administration can take up the rest of the day with meetings. We will need that time to prepare lessons and support students. Admin still gets Tuesday staff meetings (21 a year) and every other Thursday. I've attached a calendar that shows which Thursdays are admin and which are teacher-directed.
2. Safety has to come first during this pandemic so I want to spotlight the language in 4a from our MOU:
"Unit members may choose to work remotely for the duration of the emergency school closure and shall not be required to report to their worksite while their worksite is closed to students." Hopefully this will give some comfort to those of you worried about being directed to report to work in person.
Lastly, I have some good news to share: The deadline has passed, and our FMEA-endorsed board members, Maimona Afzal-Berta and George Sanchez do not have anyone running against them in the upcoming FMSD School Board election, so they will automatically be given new four-year terms as district trustees. We had expected a challenge from a charter school-backed candidate, but that did not materialize. Congratulations George and Maimona!
I hope everyone gets a lot of rest this weekend and is ready for a very interesting, and likely very challenging first day of school on Monday.
August 12, 2020
I would like to invite you to an FMEA town hall tomorrow at 4:30 to discuss the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that FMEA has bargained with the district. This will be a similar format to yesterday's welcome-back district meeting. You can send me questions and comments ahead of time or share them in the chat tomorrow.
Alie Victorine, Imelda Murillo, Veronica Andrade and myself spent much of the summer crafting and bargaining this MOU, and all of us will be on hand as part of the panel to discuss the MOU and answer your questions. Nothing has been signed yet but we do plan to sign off on the MOU shortly after this FMEA meeting.
I am attaching the MOU and the Daily Synchronous Instruction docs that were sent previously. The third attachment (Full Distance Learning Instructional Framework) goes into more detail and was not sent previously but may be helpful.
Thanks again to Alie, Imelda and Veronica for all the hard work!
Here is the Zoom link. I hope you will join us tomorrow.
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 638 0968
Webinar ID: 899 7430 3399
August 6, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
The instructional minutes for next year were informally agreed to earlier this week in FMEA/FMSD bargaining. We have many other components to the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that we have been working on. Nothing has been formally agreed to yet, but that is likely to happen next week.
Take a look at the attached MOU if you want to better understand how distance learning will impact our contract. We are still making adjustments to the language, so none of this is final, but what is in green is likely to the final language.
I know a lot of this is confusing, as well as very stressful, and I'm sure there will be some hiccups as this school year gets launched, but I do believe all sides are making a good faith effort to figure out how to make this all work. I hope everyone is prepared for a very different kind of return to school. Have a good final weekend of vacation!
August 4, 2020
FMEA has been been bargaining with the district on a reopening MOU for many weeks now. We still have a lot of work to do to complete it, but because the first day of school is less than two weeks away, and schools and parents need to have a schedule, we expedited the instructional minutes portion of the MOU. Moments ago we came to a non-binding agreement on this, and I have pasted the document below and also attached it.
Over the summer the Instructional Program Subcommittee and Middle School Subcommittee put together plans for instructional minutes. Ultimately these plans are what FMEA tentatively agreed to. We took a hard look to make sure that there was sufficient teacher planning time, while also making sure we are providing enough direct contact with students that they can have a productive year. In the end this appears to be a fair compromise.
In a nutshell, each student will receive a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction totaling four hours daily, as required by law. Each teacher will provide two and a half hours of synchronous instruction, on Zoom, to students daily, except for TK and K teachers, who will provide two hours of synchronous instruction daily. This synchronous instruction will be small groups in many cases, so the total amount of synchronous instruction for each student will be less than the amount for each teacher.
I'm sharing this with you now so that you can review it and send me any feedback ASAP. So far nothing has been formally signed or agreed to. This is still a draft, however it is likely to be signed later this week so please send me any and all feedback right away.
Daily Synchronous Instruction in FMSD
There will be daily synchronous instruction in SEL, Mathematics, ELA and ELD. In order to provide teachers the opportunity to develop the skills and comfort to provide quality synchronous instruction, the minutes outlined are intended to be the goal by fall break (October 12). The amount of synchronous time at the beginning of the year may be less than is outlined in this framework so long as some SEL, Mathematics, ELA and ELD are taught synchronously. In addition, the focus of synchronous time can be shifted at the beginning of the year to have a larger emphasis on relationship building and assessing individual needs. In order to provide access to education during asynchronous instruction, targeted support time will be conducted in small group settings to provide support for those who either struggle with the content or the engagement in distance learning.
August 3, 2020
FMEA is working busily to finalize our reopening MOU, and I will have an update for you in the next 48 hours. In the meantime our FMEA Equity Team (Imelda Murillo and Edgar Quiroz-Medrano) is gearing up for a powerful and productive year. They have put together the following communication. If you are interested in joining our Equity Team as the LGBTQ Chair let me know.
The human right and minority affairs chairs have started the FMEA Equity Team, per CTA guidelines. The equity team is in line with CTA’s vision of equity, social justice, and inclusion.
The current percentage of Black Indigenous Educators of Color stands at 33.6%, while the student population is at 75.9% (CTA Human Rights Department Programs and Services). This wide gap between the percentage of teachers vs percentage of students calls on many questions that must be answered. Among the questions is how are we serving our Black Indigenous Students of Color in FMSD? How can we retain Black Indigenous Teachers of Color in FMSD? Historically, teachers of color have been on the fringes of education and leadership, therefore having an affinity group where Black Indigenous Educators of Color (BIEOC) can meet is critical in amplifying their voices and concerns. The minority affairs chair is here to listen to the needs and concerns of Black Indigenous Educators of Color (BIEOC). It is also here to create events that speak to the needs of our BIEOC. This subcommittee is geared towards encouraging BIEOC leadership through the use of community actions, social events, and other leadership opportunities through CTA and NEA.
The Human Rights sub-committee unites all aspects of both unionism and public education, and supports the CTA Mission Statement and Strategic Plan. The work of the department uses transformative learning strategies with a focus on unconscious bias as a tool to look at both individual behavior and institutional practice. Ultimately, the intent is to create a more equitable union and public education system by helping to change behavior and practices that perpetuate inequality. The Human Rights sub-committee is here to carry out CTA’s strategic plan within the FMEA membership base. It will be the responsibility of the Human Rights sub-committee to address, work with, and support our work in creating a more equitable district that truly meets the needs of all members, students, and the communities we serve.
Both of these committees are here to support all teachers in our pursuit of a more equitable educational system that meets the needs of both members and students. Both committees will work together with the greater FMEA union to prioritize the needs of students, teachers, and our educators community. Both will work in collaboration when issues of injustices are raised amongst the membership and greater community. Working in collaboration, both committees will work on building cross regional connections with other equity teams in the South Bay.
If you feel that either subcommittee speaks to you or if you have a passion for social justice, don’t hesitate to email the FMEA Equity Team at FMEAequityteam@gmail.com.
Imelda (Santee) and Edgar (Dahl)
July 17, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
As you have probably heard your, our advocacy paid off and the FMSD School Board voted Wednesday to begin the school year with distance learning (DL). I know not everyone is happy with that decision, and DL is not the best way to connect with our students, but it just does not seem safe to reopen in person and put people's lives at risk.
The Board voted unanimously to begin the year with DL through December. The situation will be reassessed at that time, and it's possible FMSD will then phase in a hybrid model that includes in-person instruction. If there is a major decrease in COVID19 in our region it is possible that the Board could vote to implement the hybrid model earlier than January, but that seems unlikely.
There is much work being done by district subcommittees attempting to create effective and safe plans. FMEA is also working on drafting an agreement with the district that clarifies expectations, and safeguards us as we launch the year with DL. I'm glad we have a month before the school year starts because there is much work to be done to make sure we have an agreement that supports our students, as well as our teachers and other FMEA members.
This morning our County Office Of Education held a meeting on the science behind school opening guidance. For those of you who are interested, I'm attaching two documents from the California Department of Public Health.
I will email with any other big news throughout the summer, and you can check our new FMEA Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates, as well as our FMEA Facebook page and website.
Take good care, and stay safe and healthy,
Like our Facebook page: FMEA
Follow us on Twitter @EducatorsFmea
Follow us on instagram@fmea_educators
Check out our website: http://www.fmea.mobi
July 13, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
I heard from you loud and clear, both from the recent survey results and from your emails. It is just not a safe time to reopen our district, and when lives are at stake, safety has to come first. Due to escalating COVID19 cases around the state, school districts from LA and San Diego, to Oakland, SF and San Jose Unified, are opting to start the year with distance learning. Many are considering phasing in a hybrid model, but only once it appears that it is safe to do so.
Nearly 200 of you have responded to the FMEA survey, and 75% of you want one of the options that does not require returning in person next month. In line with the surveys, and with districts around the state, FMEA will now strongly push to start the year with distance learning. We will have to examine what a phased-in reopening would look like and what measures would be used to assure us that it is safe, and that the time is right to return.
Our FMSD School Board meets virtually this Wednesday at 5:30pm to discuss and vote on the current hybrid model. I think the tide is turning against a full reopening in August, and the board is likely to approve phasing in the hybrid model if/when it is safer. If you feel strongly about this, do consider emailing our board members. You also can sign up to speak at the virtual board meeting. Here's a link with the board meeting info. Click on "Meetings" in the middle of the page for instructions on accessing the meeting and signing up to speak. https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/fmsd/Board.nsf/vpublic?open
I believe our board will do the right thing to protect the Franklin-McKinley community if they hear from us. email@example.com
Lastly, there is a petition going around to request that County Public Health Director, Dr Sarah Cody, keep schools closed until it is safe to reopen. To sign the petition scroll to the very bottom. https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1F6UP-sQjCZetjhr7ct5yEUaRqP8azCw3MKX1IBlcbpM/mobilebasic
July 10, 2020
This has been a summer like no other. Like all of you, I'm very concerned about our return to work, which is now one month away. The district has been running several committees and subcommittees to resolve the many questions surrounding how to best return next month, but I have mixed feelings about the plan, and it all feels like a moving target. For now the County is allowing districts to reopen with some, or all, in-person instruction, but that could change at any point, due to increased COVID19 prevalence.
Nothing has been finalized by the district or agreed to by FMEA. At the very least FMEA will be negotiating more prep time than what is in the sample schedules. I put together a brief survey to better understand where FMEA stands on these matters. Once we have data from this survey we can make a coordinated effort to move the district towards our preferences and goals. Here is the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RNTVFWP
The current plan is to offer a distance-learning-only option to families. Those students who do not choose that option will take part in a hybrid approach, with some distance learning and some in-person instruction. Each class will be divided into two cohorts and each cohort will come to school in-person two days a week. That would leave one student-free day, most likely on Friday.
The County Health Department released guidelines on reopening which incorporates requirements from the State. Middle school age students are required to wear masks in class, but grades 6 and lower are not technically required to wear masks in the County guidelines. These guidelines do not require students to sit six feet away from each other, and the district plan does not require this either. There are plans to fully disinfect classrooms daily using new technologies, but this has not yet been finalized. Here's a link to the full document from the County. https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Documents/ReopeningofSantaClaraCountyK12Schools.pdf
Most of us are very concerned about getting sick with COVID19 and wondering how that would effect our sick leave. We will get two weeks of paid sick leave if get sick due to COVID19, and that is detailed in the attachment which also covers other issues like lack of childcare.
One of the few good thing about COVID is that CTA is offering their Summer Institute online, and for free! There are a lot of great strands to choose from. Here's the link with all the needed info. https://ctago.org/events/2020-summer-institute/
For the procrastinators out there just getting to your taxes, total 2019 union dues for tax purposes were $1299.
I hope you are managing to enjoy your summer despite the challenges of this moment.
June 26, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
Below is a link with information and a survey on district reopening plans. Please complete the survey by Sunday night. Also please note that in my opinion things are very fluid right now. Much can change in the coming weeks, and any plans we make now may end up taken off the table if County Health tightens up restrictions. It's possible that we will have to return with an online only full distance learning model in the fall, but for now the goal is to have some in-person contact with students.
Also note that FMEA will be bargaining a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the district to make sure that all reasonable measures are taken to keep FMEA members safe when we reopen.
Here's the link to the info and survey:
June 16, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
This has been a school year like no other. It's hard to wrap things up in an email when so much is uncertain. The Reopening Advisory Workgroup will be working through June to determine the best instructional approach that balances the need for safety, while providing effective instruction. Many of you have already sent me your thoughts and ideas. I encourage you to continue doing so, and I will bring them to the workgroup. This workgroup will not be able to drill down into all details, so subgroups will be needed to iron out as many kinks as possible before we open up in mid-August. Basically, stay tuned for more info this summer as the plan develops, and know that more of you will have a chance to get involved in plotting the path forward as the plans get more detailed.
The state and district budgets also remain unresolved at this time. The CA Legislature has not yet reached a deal with Governor Newsom over how large the cuts will be to education funding, though a compromise deal could come at any minute. Our FMSD School Board will be adopting a budget at their next meeting, one week from today. The board debated cuts at their last meeting, but ultimately requested that the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) meet again to work on proposed cuts. I am part of the BAC, and among the topics the BAC discussed earlier this month was all employees taking furlough days. While I believe this is an option that FMEA may have to look at in the future, if there are big cuts in state funding, I don't think it's right for FMEA to agree to furloughs and pay cuts when the district still has $19M in reserve. I am open to taking a hard look at furlough days once the district has made appropriate cuts further from the classroom, and spent down some of the large reserve.
FMEA will be bargaining our annual renewal to our contract in the fall or winter and we do have spots for new Bargaining Team members. If you are interested in more details or applying for a spot let me know.
Lastly, I want to honor our FMEA retirees. We usually honor them at our FMEA end-of-year party but obviously that was not an option this year. So to our retirees: Thank you for all your years serving the students and families of FMSD, and for supporting your colleagues in FMEA. May you have a long and fulfilling retirement!
Corinne Kong - Sylvandale
Jane Mick - Windmill Springs
Paula Segura- Los Arboles
Maria Van Zandt- Sylvandale
Miriam Mooney - Sylvandale
Maritza Dahl- Sylvandale
Melanie Dresbach- Stonegate
Esther Gutierrez - Ramblewood
Roser Sauleda - Los Arboles
Cindy Giardina - Franklin
Linda Piantanida - Kennedy
Nou Sokchhavy - Dahl
Have a great summer all!
June 9, 2020
The budget proposed by Governor Newsom in May contained a 10% cut to eduction. Now the state legislature is working on a deal to avoid these harsh cuts to education. There is also significant money for schools in the federal CARES act, but it is not yet clear how it will be distributed. The takeaway is that funding for FMSD and other CA school districts is very uncertain at this time, though we will likely have a final state budget in less than a week.
The district Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) met for several hours last week to discuss potential cuts. Like during the Great Recession a decade ago, FMEA may have to be willing to consider furlough days at some point, however, in my opinion we are not at that point yet. The district still has a very strong reserve of nearly $20M, and it's not clear whether there will be big cuts to the state's education funding that Newsom proposed, or much smaller cuts as the legislature proposed.
Even if there are no cuts to the state budget, FMSD will still need to make further cuts because of declining enrollment (district funding is directly tied to enrollment). Tonight our School Board meets at 7pm, and among the items they will discuss and vote on are two separate proposals for budget cuts- both proposals are attached. One proposal would reduce all admin salaries by 10%. The other proposal would eliminate a secretary from HR, Business Services and Sylvandale, as well as cutting the Director Of Community Relations (Yelitza's position).
Cuts are always hard, but the mantra that FMEA has repeated as long as I've been in this role is to keep them as far from the classroom as possible, and I think during this time of COVID that more important than ever. If you want to send in a public comment on any of this to be read aloud by Sandy Guevara, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the info and link to watch or listen to tonight's meeting.
To listen only: Attendee Dial-in Number: +1 (312) 248-9348 Attendee Dial-in ID Number: 900328 Attendee Dial-in Passcode: 4578
Rep Council Highlights:
FMEA Dues And Budget: FMEA Rep Council met yesterday and voted to keep local dues steady at $395 a year, though I do expect an increase in CTA and NEA dues. Rep Council also passed a budget that is very close to the current year's budget.
PD Survey Results: Thank you for taking part in last month's PD survey. 57% of you voted to keep the calendar the same, with two PD days prior to the first day of school. 43% of you voted to start the year one day later and end one day later, and to move one PD day to September. I have informed HR that FMEA is opposed to the proposed change, and it looks like the district will be sticking with the current calendar and PD schedule.
FMEA Scholarships: If your site has 8th graders, and you have not done so already, please determine who will be the recipient of this year's FMEA Scholarship. Let me know ASAP.
Fall Reopening: Yesterday Norma Martinez sent out a reopening survey. Please take the survey by the end of the week. The results will be used by the district's Reopening Advisory Workgroup to come up with a plan for reopening. After that group completes a general plan, there will be subgroups involved in determining the specifics. There are still lots of unknowns for next year, but it looks likely we will be opening in the fall, but with everyone wearing masks (teachers may wear face shields) and fewer students in a room (necessitated by desks being 6 feet apart). Most likely each student will come to school two or three days a week, and distance learning will continue as part of the approach.
I'm still very concerned for all of you that have conditions that make you or your family members especially vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. Hopefully some will be able to work remotely to minimize exposure, but these details, as well as those in the paragraph above have not been worked out. I expect that by then end of the month we will have a much clearer plan for reopening.
Thanks for making it through this long email!
Keep in touch,
June 4, 2020
Here are the election results submitted by FMEA Elections Chair, Sau Vu. Congratulations to our new FMEA Executive Board!
June 4, 2020
It's rare for me, but I'm at a loss for words. To say these are challenging times is too generic, and more importantly an understatement. I'll just say that for the first time in my life I'm genuinely scared about this nation's ability to overcome our differences and work towards our common goals.
Over the last 13 years that I've served as FMEA President I have made a conscious choice to not tread into political issues unless they had a concrete impact on the teachers and students of Franklin-McKinley. I'm very interested in politics, but I know that some of you may not share my views and divisions may form. I've always thought it most important that we stay unified and avoid topics that could divide us.
But these moments we are living through transcend politics. The death of black men and women, and other acts of systemic racism, have to be called out for what they are. Black lives matter, and as a nation we need to take a hard look at racism, and what it will take for this nation to truly make a change. Racism needs to be called out so that the students we teach can grow up in a more fair, equitable and just world than the one we grew up in.
The anger at George Floyd's killing has boiled over into the protests and unrest we have seen the past week, and though I'm not defending looting, and I believe strongly in non-violence, I want to share some words from former President Obama on protesting: “Just remember that this country was founded on protest — it is called the American Revolution, Every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals have been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable, And we should all be thankful for folks who are willing, in a peaceful, disciplined way, to be out there making a difference.”
As the California Teachers Association recently stated, "Saying #BlackLivesMatter isn't enough: we need to actively show it in our work toward anti-racism on a personal, structural and institutional level." We must hold ourselves and each other accountable. Our schools must be places to nurture equity and justice. FMEA Ethnic Minority Chair, Imelda Murillo has posted links in the FMEA Facebook group for resources for those of you who seek a deeper understanding.
Thank you for allowing me to share, and for your thoughtful reflection on these matters.
Take good care of yourself and each other.
May 29, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
Fall Plans/ COVID MOU: The district will soon be putting together a committee of teachers, Classified staff and others to begin planning for next year. Much may change between now and August but at the moment it looks likely that school will reopen in the fall with social distancing and masks in place, and reduced numbers of students in any given room. This would necessitate some combination of distance learning and in-person learning. Attached is an FMEA/FMSD COVID Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). A similar MOU will have to be negotiated for the fall so that we can reopen safely.
FMSD Budget Cuts: The district will be convening a Budget Advisory Committee next week to discuss district budget cuts. Some cuts were already needed due to declining enrollment, but now cuts are likely to be much deeper than originally expected due to the COVID-related cuts to the state budget.
CTA Call To Action: Unprecedented budget cuts of up to 10% are likely coming our way unless we are able to convince our legislators to protect education. It's crucial that schools be protected, since teaching during a pandemic will be challenging enough without these huge cuts. CTA has put out a "call-to-action" and has set up a phone number (which includes some guidance) for members to use to reach our legislators. Call 1-855-977-1770 and demand no cuts to education. Attached to this email is a document from CTA with all details on the proposed cuts to education.
Resignation/ Retirement Incentives: Today is the last day to turn in notice of resignation for the $3000 stipend, or notice of retirement (for those 55 years old, with 5 years in the district) for the much larger retirement incentive. Email Annette Grasty in HR by the end of the day if you are interested.
"Contracts" Around this time each year the district distributes placement verification forms. These are commonly referred to as "contracts" though technically they are not contracts and they are not binding. This year the COVID shutdown has made it hard for HR to put these together, and it looks like they may not go out until the fall. Do keep in mind that, unless you were previously notified, everyone has a job for next year even though you will likely not receive your placement verification "contract" that is usually distributed at this time. Also keep in mind that you are obligated to notify the district by June 30th if you are not returning next year.
Excess Staff: The district now has the twelve needed openings to place all excess staff. Most likely this will be done on a Zoom meeting next week.
FMEA Officer Elections: Today at 10pm is the deadline to vote in FMEA officer elections. You should have received the electronic ballot on your district email. If you did not receive it let me know.
PD Calendar Survey: Also, if you have not voted on the FMEA PD calendar survey please do so ASAP. Here is the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JGDPDVW
Retro Pay: Lastly, today is pay day and you should have received a larger than normal check because it included the pay for the retroactive portion of our raise. If you didn't receive your retro pay let me know.
Have a great weekend!
May 26, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
I hope you had a good long weekend and are managing your best through all the challenges of these times. As we start to wrap up this school year and begin to plan for next year, there are a lot of unknowns. At this point it looks like social distancing will continue, and classes will be taught using a combination of distance learning and in-person traditional learning. There are obviously a lot of considerations to be worked out before we return in August. Any challenges will be exacerbated by the 10% cut to education funding that Governor Newsom is proposing. We won't have a state budget until next month, but if there are huge cuts to funding, just know that any cuts to our salary would have to be bargained, and cannot be unilaterally imposed.
This evening you will be receiving an email on your district email account from "Simply Voting" which is the platform FMEA will be using to hold online voting for our FMEA Officer Elections. If you don't receive the email tonight let me know. Voting will be open through this Friday at 10PM.
Ed Services has requested that we consider a change to the calendar. In recent years we have had four days back at work prior to the first day of school. Two of these have been professional development (PD) days, the third day is principal-directed and the fourth is teacher-directed. What is being proposed is that we move one of these two PD days a month later because sitting and absorbing information for two days straight is a lot. Note: Most likely one PD day will be on distance learning, and one PD day will be on new ELA curriculum for grades K-5 and new science curriculum for grades 6-8.
Option A is status quo, meaning no changes to the calendar that has already been approved with two back-to-back PD Days. Option B would mean that we would return from summer break on Wednesday, 8/12 instead of Tuesday 8/11. We would still have one principal-directed day and one teacher-directed day, but instead of two PD days we would just have one. The second PD day would be September 14th. Students would not come to school that day, so the school year would end one day later on Wednesday, June 16th instead of Tuesday, June 15th. A brief summary is below, and here is the link when you are ready to vote on the calendar. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JGDPDVW
Start and End Dates
Keep four teacher work days prior to first school day, with two PD days that first week.
August 11th and August 12th
Teachers start August 11th and students start August 17th
Last day for students and teachers is June 15th
Provides more time for PD prior to launching school year
No changes to calendar neededToo intensive with 2 PD days in a row at beginning of year
Three teacher work days at beginning of year instead of four
Keep one PD day at beginning of year and one PD day a month later
Teacher work year would start one day later and end one day later.
(not August 11th) and September 14th Teachers start August 12th and students start August 17th
Last day for students and teachers would be June 16th (extend calendar by 1 day)
Breaking up PD allows for time to assimilate information.
Training can be provided to site classified staff on September 14th
Necessitates calendar extension by 1 day (June 16)
May 13, 2020
Happy CTA Day Of The Teacher! I made a short video below I hope you will watch.
May 8, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
CTA's Day Of The Teacher isn't until this coming Wednesday, but this week has been National Teacher Appreciation Week, and I know FMEA teachers have been appreciated this year like no other, as we have provided an important link to our students and families, making sure they have the food, safety, and resources needed to make it through this challenging time. I sincerely thank you and appreciate you!
Yesterday Governor Newsom shared that California now has a budget deficit of $54 billion. He will release the annual May Revision to the budget next week, and we will see how he plans to close that gap. It's safe to say that the increased funding to schools that has been a staple of California budgets for almost a decade is over for now. Just how hard education is hit remains to be seen.
The only viable remedy to this fiscal crisis is for Congress to allocate more money to states. Specifically, CTA is calling on Congress to allocate $175 billion to states in the form of an Education Stabilization Fund. CTA has issued a "Call To Action." All you have to do is call your congress person and request they support this Education Stabilization Fund. CTA has set up the following number that will connect you to your congressperson: 1-855-977-1770. All details are attached to this email. Thank you in advance for taking a few minutes to respond to this call to action.
Your paycheck last week should have included the raise for this year, and your check at the end of May should include retro pay for the year. Don't forget there is an incentive for people to declare they are resigning or retiring. You need to notify HR by the end of May to qualify for the incentive. This will also help our excess staff get placed.
Distance learning is requiring us all to adapt to a totally different landscape than we are used to. If you are having challenges or need questions answered, please get in touch.
Thanks for all you do and have a great weekend!
May 1, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
FMEA Elections: FMEA officer elections are coming up this month. Every year FMEA votes on President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Director-At-Large. All are one-year terms except for Director, which is a three-year term. If you are interested in running for any of these positions you need to email a short bio, up to 30 words, to FMEA Elections Chair, Sau Vu, at email@example.com by May 21st. Make sure to indicate which position you are running for. Attached to this email is a complete description of each of these positions.
2020/21 School Year: Governor Newsom caught a lot of school districts off guard when he recently mentioned that schools might return in July. It's unlikely many districts will be doing so, and FMSD will definitely not begin our school year until August. It's possible the State or County will extend the school shutdown, and we could end up coming back later than planned, but we will not be returning to work earlier than August 11th, which is our first day back to work on the board-adopted FMSD calendar.
While we can rule out school returning in July, there are many unknowns about next school year. FMSD, like other districts is beginning to look at options if social distancing is still in place. In the coming weeks planning for next year will come into clearer focus, but for now a large range of approaches are being looked at.
Staffing: Currently there are not enough open positions in the district for all excess staff and coaches, who are returning to the classroom. Therefore the district is going to offer a $3,000 incentive to anyone who officially notifies the district, by May 31st, of their plan to resign. This year's large retirement incentive will also be made available to anyone who qualifies but missed the deadline. I do think there will be enough spots for all teachers to have a placement for next year, by the first of week of June.
Teachers who need to retrieve materials from your classroom because you are moving to a different classroom or leaving FMSD altogether will probably have access the first week of June. This date could change based on further guidance from the County Department of Public Health.
Salary Schedules: Updated salary schedules are now available. I've attached next year's 184 and 194 day salary schedules, and the link to the district's website is below, which has updated 2019-20 salary schedules. The salary schedules for this year are 1% larger than next year because they include this year's 1% bonus.
Have a great weekend!
April 22, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
FMSD delayed last week's board meeting until last night, which means the board approved our Tentative Agreement (TA) last night. We are supposed to see the raise in our paychecks next week, and the retro pay should come at the end of May, but that is a tight timeline so I'll be happy to see it when it arrives.
The board voted to give administration the same raise we got (2.5% raise plus a 1% bonus), They also voted to switch Bridges from a dependent charter to a traditional public school next year. Also in last night's board packet it was announced that Karen Allard will be resigning at the end of this school year.
For those who were being evaluated this year, the district is going to go ahead and finish evaluations based on whatever observations took place prior to schools closing. If instead, you prefer to be evaluated next year, make sure to let your principal know, so you will be evaluated next year instead of this year.
FMEA Rep Council will meet on Zoom this coming Monday, so if you have questions or concerns about distance learning or anything else, make sure to contact your FMEA Site Rep so that they can bring up your concerns to the group.
It looks like the district is working towards an unusual mid-year open enrollment, primarily for those who are having trouble with the switch to United Health Care. More details will be available in the coming weeks.
Lastly, I'm once again attaching the SPED MOU that was recently approved at the time of our TA. All SPED staff will receive a $500 stipend for the next five years, and all SPED staff hired in the last three years will now be receiving the $3000 stipend for a total of five years.
It's challenging to stay in touch, unified and coordinated without any in-person meetings, so do let me know if there are issues you think need to be on the FMEA radar.
Take good care and stay healthy and positive,
April 10, 2020
I hope this email finds you well. The voting on our Tentative Agreement (TA) has ended and the final result is unanimous! 215 voted "yes" and 0 voted "no." The Board will ratify it at their meeting this Tuesday, and then the TA becomes binding contract language. The salary increase is retroactive to July 1, 2019 so we will get a retro check in the coming months, but the hourly pay and other increases are not retroactive. Thanks again to our bargaining team for getting this done despite the challenging times.
Tentative master schedules should be emailed out by the April 15th deadline. Some teachers have already been contacted about being on the excess staff list. Things will be a little different this year since obviously there won't be an excess staff meeting in person, and there are less openings this year than past years, but there will be positions for everyone eventually.
During the upcoming spring break there is no expectation that you be available for anything work-related. If you have questions or concerns about distance learning or anything else please let me know.
Have a cozy holiday break.
April 7, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
I hope you and your loved ones are doing well and adjusting to this current reality. At 7pm tonight you should receive an email on your district email with a link to vote on the recent Tentative Agreement (TA) between FMEA and the district. I have attached the TA to this email once again. FMEA will be voting on a secure and independent platform called "Simply Voting."
The voting is open until Friday at 4pm, but I encourage you to vote earlier. If you do not receive the voting link on your district email tonight definitely let me know. FMEA is using district email to make sure that the link to vote doesn't wind up in your spam folder, and because we don't have 100% of members' email addresses, but I have made corrections to the district list, and I have confirmed that there is no way the district can tell who votes or how they vote.
If more than 50% of FMEA votes cast are in support of the TA then the School Board will ratify it at their meeting this coming Tuesday. It usually takes a month or two to get our retro check and for the raise to show up on our paychecks. I do not know how the virus shutdown will impact this timeline, but I know they work hard to complete this all by June at the latest.
Below are topics that went out to FMEA Site Reps yesterday.
Rep Council April Topics:
Master Schedule: April 15 is when the district posts a tentative master schedule. It will be emailed out this year instead of posted.
Floating Cap Pay: I have confirmed that teachers will continue to get floating cap pay. Also, in cases where teachers are taking on an extra class instead of there being a sub, that teacher or teachers will be paid just as if a class was split on a normal day due to no sub. Note: in the recent TA we bargained that teachers taking split classes will split $250, so once the Board ratifies our TA the $250 goes into effect. Until then it remains the retired teacher pay rate that is split, which I believe is $200.
Spring Break: There will still be a spring break this year. During spring break there is no obligation to do work-related tasks.
COVID19 MOU: FMEA is working with the district on coming up with a COVID19 MOU that addresses safety, basic obligations around distance learning, and other components of our contract that have been effected by the school shutdown.
The fact that we will not be reopening schools this year is going to create many challenges and unique issues. Let me know if you have questions or concerns that need to be looked at.
Take care, stay positive and stay safe.
April 2, 2020
As you have now probably heard, California schools will not be reopening this school year. Distance learning will be the focus for districts around the state. In recent days the district has sent out a lot of information about the FMSD plan for distance learning, but there are still plenty of unanswered questions. There are also a lot unknowns related to how the district will handle the processes and procedures that normally happen at sites every spring. I do think all of this will get worked out in time, but feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns you are struggling to get addressed.
FMEA will be using an online platform called "Simply Voting" to conduct a secure online vote for our Tentative Agreement (TA). Voting on the TA will take place next week, most likely using your personal email address. I'm attaching the TA to this email once again, and will follow up with more information as we get ready to vote next week.
Spring break will still take place as originally scheduled during the week of April 13th. During that time teachers will not be expected to conduct distance learning or be available for work-related demands.
I've been asked to remind folks not to reply-to-all unless you feel strongly that your reply to me is pertinent to everyone else in this email group. I am still open to any and all private correspondence.
Lastly, for those who didn't see it, Superintendent Cruz clarified when and how to enter your classroom in his email yesterday: "Schools will be open on Friday (4/3) and Monday (4/6) from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm for staff to ONLY pick-up materials and resources that may be needed to support distance learning. Everyone will need to adhere to the social distancing guidelines and use gloves as you enter the building. Please make sure to notify your principal of when you plan to come in".
I'm really inspired by how this community of educators has pulled together to support our students and families, and I'm sure we will adapt to this new educational approach. Take good care of yourself and your loved ones.
March 30, 2020
The district is currently gathering and disinfecting devices to go out to families, and distance learning will begin one week from today. I mentioned in Friday's email that you will be allowed to go into your room to retrieve needed instructional materials, but please hold off for a few days until the district has their disinfecting plan/protocol in place. By the second half of this week there should be a plan in place for accessing your rooms.
FMEA is currently working with CTA to figure out the best online platform for conducting our TA voting. I'm pretty sure we will vote later this week and will keep you posted.
March 27, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
I hope you are doing well during the quarantine. It's a strange time we are in with lots of unknowns, but California teachers are doing much better than those in other states who don't have a commitment from state government that our paychecks will keep coming.
Our pay will not only keep coming, it will increase, but first we have to ratify the Tentative Agreement (TA). Normally we vote by paper ballot, but obviously that would be challenging at this time. Most likely we will use SurveyMonkey to vote, and a vote link will be sent directly to your district email next week.
The FMEA Update from last week has a summary of the TA and I am attaching the TA and SPED MOU to this email as well. Note: The SPED MOU has been updated again so that, not only do all SPED teachers receive a $500 annual stipend, but now all teachers currently receiving the $3000 annual signing bonus will get it for five years instead of three. Also note: the TA includes a 2.5% raise with a 1% bonus, and the language used to implement the bonus is confusing, but it's written using that specific language to ensure that this 1% counts towards teacher retirement.
The school closure has been extended until at least May 1st. Most likely schools will not reopen this school year, but the situation is changing rapidly so we will have to take it week by week.
The district is currently collecting and disinfecting devices to be sent home to students so that FMSD can implement virtual learning. The devices will go out next week and the district will support families who are having connectivity challenges. April 6th will be the first week of instruction. There will be no live video instruction or whole-class voice instruction because of liability issues.
The first two weeks the district will have lessons ready to be uploaded, but after the first two weeks teachers or grade levels will be responsible to create and post the assignments. SPED teachers will be responsible to create and/or modify curriculum as needed. This is all still somewhat unclear, but there should be a lot of clarification in the coming week.
One thing that is clear is that we will not be directed to go into classrooms. We will be allowed into rooms if teachers want to gather materials, but for those who choose to be strictly quarantined and do not want to visit your room, no one should be directing you to do so. Please let me know if you hear otherwise, because this has been an ongoing issue in some neighboring districts. So far FMSD has respected FMEA members' need for safety and no one I'm aware of has been directed to show up in person.
Below is a link to our FMEA General Survey with a focus on student behavior. It originally went out in February, but if you have not yet taken it, now is great time to do so. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/X5R3W6T
There is a currently a lot of confusion and many unique challenges posed by the school closures. I am available by phone, text or email to answer questions or support you in any issues that arise. Take good care, and stay healthy.
March 19, 2020
These are unprecedented times, and I hope you are taking the appropriate steps to keep yourself, your family and your community healthy. As you know it's difficult to predict much these days with any certainty. There is a possibility schools won't reopen this school year, but it's also possible we will come back some time in April or May. I think it's likely that the earliest we would be back is April 20th at the end of our spring break.
Among the things we can be certain of is that we will be paid our full salary for the rest of this school year, we will not lose our benefits, our CalSTRS credit will not be negatively affected, and we will not have to use our sick leave during the school closure. What's also now certain is that we have settled our contract for the 2019/20 school year!
FMEA and the district almost reached a deal a few weeks back, and both sides wanted to bring some good news during this challenging time, so we worked remotely this week to finalize our agreement. I've attached the Tentative Agreement (TA) to this email, along with the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) for special education. This MOU is primarily a signing bonus for new teachers, and was originally agreed to in December, but now it includes a $500 annual stipend for SPED staff.
As is usually the case, there were a number of improvements and protections we were not able to get. These include increased social workers, and inclusion class protection, but the district has agreed to begin a district-level student behavior committee next year, and we were able to make gains in a number of areas. I have summarized these below:
Normally we vote by paper ballot, but this year the tentative plan is to vote next week using district email. If the TA is approved by more than 50% of FMEA membership then the FMSD School Board will approve it at their April 14th meeting. I would hope that our retro check would arrive at the end of May, but things may move slower during the closure.
If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to email or call me. Thank you to Bargaining Chair, Alie Victorine, and the rest of the team, Veronica Andrade, Julia Walle, Catherine Baskerville and Kris Clarke!
March 13, 2020
As we now know, all County schools will be closed to students for three weeks beginning Monday. We will continue to be paid, and are not using sick leave, but be aware that we are not technically on any type of leave. That means the district has the right to call us in to work as long as we are not gathering in groups larger than the County permitted number of 35.
Other than district office staff, FMEA members do not need to report to work Monday. It is likely we will be called in Tuesday to prepare work packets for students. At this time I have no guess about the rest of next week or the weeks after.
A lot of us have concerns about the safety of coming to work after schools have been closed to students, and you can use sick leave if you do not feel comfortable returning to school grounds. There will be a lot of disinfecting going on between now and Tuesday, but completely cleaning all schools is a big job.
Some of you have brought up concerns about child care for staff when we are called in, as well as meals for our students while schools are closed. I shared these concerns with our superintendent and I think solutions are being considered. I'm sure there will also be unforeseen issues and concerns as this situation develops. For now we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the County did the right thing for the health of everyone in this region and shut down schools temporarily.
I will follow up when I have more information.
March 12, 2020
Things have been changing very quickly. There are still no confirmed Covid-19 cases among FMSD students, but I think it is just a matter of time before our district and all others in the county close down temporarily. The decision to close will come from the County Office Of Education, based on discussions with County Health. The closure could come at any time, but I'd be surprised if we stayed open through next week.
For now the district is taking some extra steps to keep our sites clean, but I know it's a losing battle. Many cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are not available. Some sites have them, but disinfecting wipes can only be accessed after watching the legally-mandated Keenan video (and at the time of sending this I have not received the link for this). The district is increasing sanitizing and disinfecting, including bringing custodians in to work on weekends to clean ipads and other devices. The district is focusing on the cleaning schedule outlined in the email earlier today, but obviously most of us are doing a lot extra cleaning. At this time the district has not agreed to pay for products you buy, but you can work with your principal to see if they will reimburse you.
The district office is working on putting together work packets by grade level. Hopefully these will be available by Monday, since some families are already pulling their kids out of school. If/when we do close, these packets would be distributed to students to work on during the closure.
I want to once again mention there is no reason to worry that there will be any loss of pay during the time the district closes. But it is quite likely that we will have to come in to schools at times to do some sort of work, since we are being paid during this time. There have been discussions on moving spring break earlier, but the downside is that some who have already made plans during the current spring break would have to cancel them if that became a work week.
Many of us and our colleagues are in the groups considered most at risk. I absolutely understand your concerns and frustrations. The district is not allowing you to stay home without it coming out of sick leave, but no doctors notes will be required, and if you run out of sick leave you will still receive differential pay (your full pay minus $160 for a sub). I know this is less than ideal, but if we do end up closing in a matter of days, it will not be a serious hit to your sick leave.
In addition to the extra disinfecting, cancelling all field trips, assemblies and open houses, all parent conferences are being cancelled, and IEPs will not be held in person. I think it's also clear that we will be postponing our FMEA April 4th basketball tournament.
I will get back in touch when I have any substantial news to share. I know it's a challenging time and I appreciate all you are doing to keep your students, colleagues and yourself healthy. Thank you!
March 11, 2020
Covid 19 is the topic that has dominated most conversations lately. I don't have much new to say that wasn't included in my email on Friday. The situation is changing very quickly, and our district will follow any new guidelines issued from the various County departments. But as I said in Friday's email, there is no reason to think that we will lose any salary or sick leave. If you are among those at risk for a more severe response to the virus you can use your sick days to stay home as a precautionary measure, and no doctor's note will be required.
Monday's Rep Council was cancelled since it could be handled by email, but today's FMEA SPED meeting will not be cancelled because I think it's crucial we hold this meeting at this time and it cannot be handled by email.
Here are the topics we would have discussed at Rep Council on Monday:
1. Bargaining: We met last week and are bargaining again today. We are making progress towards a raise but are having more challenges on Hours and Class Size. I'm hopeful we can settle in the next month.
2. Total CTA/NEA/FMEA dues for 2019 tax purposes were $1299
3. SPED Meeting: This open meeting is today, March 11th, in the Shirakawa library, 3:30-5pm.
4. The FMEA basketball tournament was scheduled for April 4th, but it will probably have to be postponed due to the virus. We are looking at a new date later this school year and will decide ASAP.
1. Measure R: FMSD's school bond passed last week. The bond is to raise $80,000,000 for updating school properties and technology needs. Bonds generally can't be used to pay teacher salaries.
2. Spelling Bee: The winners of the FMEA spelling bee were:
1st place: Alex Nguyen- Santee
2nd place: Christin Duong- Ramblewood
3rd place: Vincent Nguyen- Ramblewood
Also, as a reminder for those wanting to transfer to a different school: April 1st is the deadline to request to be put on the transfer list. Those on this list are supposed to be called for an interview for any openings they have stated interest in. However anyone can interview for any open position, whether or not they are on the transfer list.
March 6, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
Obviously many of us are concerned about the outbreak of Covid 19, with the recent sharp increase in cases in Santa Clara county. In terms of the impact to us and our district, there are still a many unanswered questions. A lot will depend on how rapidly it spreads. School districts are generally not forming their own plans but are following guidance from the County Office Of Eduction and County Office Of Public Health.
There is currently no plan to close down any FMSD schools but it does remain a possibility in the future. If that happens there is absolutely no reason this would influence the pay or sick leave of teachers. Our contract is binding and this crisis does not void anything we have agreed to. Furthermore, because California has declared this a state of emergency, districts can close school for a short period of time without needing to make up the school days.
The district is taking small steps like increasing cleaning of communal spaces and cancelling some events. The vast majority of people with this virus do not experience life-threatening illness; nonetheless, if you feel your health could be seriously impacted by this virus because of a pre-existing condition you can use sick leave and stay home, and no doctor's note will be required.
Obviously this situation is changing quickly so who knows what next week will bring. I think generally, those calling the shots at a county and local level are trying to avoid creating panic, while still taking steps to keep people informed and safe. Hopefully they succeed.
Enjoy your weekend,
February 14, 2020
Hi FMEA members and welcome to our first February vacation!
Below are highlights from Monday's Rep Council. Also FMEA has a brand new general survey. Please click on this link and make your voice heard on this brief survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/X5R3W6T
Rep Council Highlights
Bargaining: We are starting to make some progress. We bargained today and inched closer to a deal. Our next bargaining date is March 5th, and I'm hoping we will have another productive day. HR now has new versions of the contract that was bargained last year, so stop by and grab one.
Schools And Communities: Thousands more signatures are still needed to get this on the November ballot. If the Schools And Communities initiative passes it will bring millions in increased funding to FMSD. Site Reps have blank petitions if you want to bring them home for your friends and family to sign. All registered voters in the state can sign.
FMEA Student Events: The FMEA spelling bee has been postponed until Wednesday, March 4th, to make sure sites have enough time to determine who will represent your school. It will be held at Bridges from 6-8pm. The FMEA basketball tournament is April 4th at Yerba Buena High School.
FMEA Happy Hour: Our next FMEA social event is Friday, February 28th, at Stanley's Sports Bar, 3:30-6pm. Flyers are coming soon.
FMEA SPED Meeting: This drop in FMEA meeting will be Wednesday, March 11th, at the Shirakawa library from 3:30-5pm.
Dues Total: For tax purposes, total union dues for 2019 were $1299.
Lastly, it is with great sadness that we received the news that our long-time district nurse, Gwendolyn Kyle passed away this week. Gwendolyn was a nurse here the last twelve years, and her care and smiles will be missed.
February 5, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
Bargaining: Bargaining began last week and we will continue next week. Our district's declining enrollment may make it harder to get a raise this year, but I am confident that we ultimately will reach a deal that includes a raise, retroactive to the beginning of this school year.
Student Events: The FMEA spelling bee has been moved to Wednesday, February 26th to give more time to schools to prepare. Please let me know if you will be the coordinator for your site. The FMEA basketball tournament will be April 4th. We still need coordinators for this event as well.
SERP: The district retirement incentive has ended with a total of ten teachers signing up for it. My understanding is that the board is likely to approve the incentive for these ten teachers.
Scholarships: If you are a new teacher interested in a scholarship to attend either the CTA Good Teaching Conference or New Educator Weekend let me know ASAP. Here are links to both: https://ctago.org/events/2020-new-educator-weekend-north/ https://ctago.org/events/2020-good-teaching-conference-north/
FMEA Social: The next FMEA happy hour will be Friday, February 28th, at Stanley's Sports Bar from 3:30-6pm. Look for invites coming soon. These are always a blast so don't miss it!
SPED Meeting: FMEA will be hosting a special ed drop in meeting on Wednesday, March 11th, from 3:30-5pm in the Shirakawa Library. This is open to all SPED teachers who want to voice their concerns and opinions.
Schools And Communities First: This CTA-sponsored ballot initiative still needs many more signatures to qualify for the November ballot. It will bring billions of dollars to school districts around the state by closing property tax loopholes for big business. If you are willing to have a few friends and family members sign the petition let me know and I will get some petitions out to you. We need to get this done in the next four weeks.
NEA RA: If you are interested in running to be a Local Delegate to the NEA RA let me know by February 28th.
If you have any questions, ideas or concerns don't hesitate to get in touch.
January 15, 2020
Hi FMEA members,
Happy 2020! Winter break already feels like a distant memory, but I hope it was a good one. Below are highlights from Monday's Rep Council.
Also, tonight the County Board will vote on the Alpha-Cornerstone appeal. If they uphold our local School Board vote then Cornerstone (charter school located on Kennedy's campus) will shut down in June. Please consider attending and speaking. The County Board will likely be in closed session until 6pm. Anyone showing up by 7pm should be able to speak, and it's anyone's guess what time they will vote. The County Board meets at 1290 Ridder Park Dr.
January Rep Council Highlights:
Bargaining begins January 28th. FMEA will be seeking another retroactive raise as well as improvements in the Hours article. If you are interested in joining the FMEA Bargaining Team let me know.
The FMEA spelling bee will be February 12th. We need to know who each site's coordinating teachers will be ASAP. This is a simple job that involves offering interested students a chance to take a short written test.
The FMEA basketball tournament will be April 4th. Once again we need to know who will be coordinating this at your site.
Staffing: Unlike previous years, the district is considering all first-year teachers as probationary, not temporary. This means first year teachers will not have to reapply for their job, assuming evaluations are good and the principal chooses to rehire. This also means there is a small chance the district could run a layoff in March, but if there is a layoff it would be very small.
SERP: The deadline to participate in the current retirement incentive is January 24th. The more people who sign up for the SERP, the greater chance a layoff can be avoided this year.
The NEA Representative Assembly (RA) will be in Atlanta from July 2nd-6th. State Delegate declarations (attached) are due January 31st.
8th Grade Promotions will likely be similar to last year, and there will be an appeals committee. Juan Cruz and our Board will be gathering input and will craft new Board Policy, but that won't go into effect until next year. Attached are the current 8th grade requirements and the template for IPPs (Individual Performance Plans).
CTA Scholarships: There are a number of CTA scholarships being offered, including the scholarship for dependent children of CTA members. Here's the link with all needed info: https://www.cta.org/scholarships
CTA Events: Lastly, here are several great upcoming CTA events:
CTA Special Ed Training: February 7th in San Jose. See first attached flyer.
CTA Good Teaching Conference: February 7th-9th https://ctago.org/events/2020-good-teaching-conference-north/
CTA New Educator Weekend https://ctago.org/events/2020-new-educator-weekend-north/
Congratulations on making it to the bottom of this long email!
December 13, 2019
We made it! It's hard not to feel good about starting a three week vacation. Sometime before we come back please take a look at the Rep Council highlights below, and if you didn't get a chance to read the hardcopy of the latest edition of our newsletter, it is attached.
Also attached are two new MOUs (Memorandum Of Understanding). The first of these makes it official that SPED folks doing extra assessments get per diem pay (instead of the hourly pay). The second MOU is an attempt to attract and retain SPED teachers, and changes the SPED signing bonus from three years to five years.
December Rep Council Highlights
1. Bargaining will begin in January. Resources are getting tighter in the district due to declining enrollment, but hopefully FMEA can still win another retroactive raise this year. If you haven't taken the FMEA bargaining survey here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VD3RDJH
2. It's time for participating schools to determine who will coordinate the FMEA spelling bee (February 12th) and basketball tournament (April 4th ).
3. There will likely not be revised Board Policy this year regarding participation in 8th grade promotion activities. The district will be following the same 8th grade expectations as last year. See attached. I'm advocating that there should be no appeals committee, but that if there is one, it needs to hear from someone from the site. Here is a link to current Board Policy on the matter: http://www.gamutonline.net/district/franklinmckinley/DisplayPolicy/142673
4. FMEA will soon be conducting a survey to assess perspectives on district leadership, student behavior and more.
5. The appeal for Cornerstone charter school will be January 15th at the County Board. More details to come in early January.
6. There is an LGBTQ food drive underway. Sites just need someone to coordinate the food collection, and I will be happy to pick up and deliver.
7. The Schools And Communities First November 2020 ballot initiative is a BIG ISSUE. If it passes it will bring much needed resources to districts across the state by closing property tax loopholes on commercial properties. Big business is ready to spend up to $100M on deceptive advertising, so we need to be educated and prepared.
8. Lastly, for those considering taking the district's retirement incentive, don't forget the deadline is January 24th.
Have a great vacation and thanks for all you do!
November 26, 2019
Hi FMEA members,
On December 6th CTA will offer a "Know Your Rights" training at the Mt Hamilton office at 1333 Piedmont Rd. A flyer with all details is attached.
On January 15th the County Board will be voting on Cornerstone's appeal to stay open. Cornerstone (independent charter school located on the Kennedy campus) was denied their charter renewal by our FMSD School Board last month. The County Board is likely to overturn this vote. I will provide more details about the meeting as the date gets closer.
Below is a new link for an all-expense-paid trip for teachers to the Museum Of Tolerance in L.A. for a "Tools For Tolerance" diversity training. This is a different link than what was included last email and should work. https://forms.gle/r91QxJNDQC3H5ZyH6.
There is still time to take the FMEA bargaining survey. The link is below, for those who haven't already taken it. FMEA and the district will release initial "Sunshine" proposals at the December board meeting and proceed with bargaining in January. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VD3RDJH
CTA's New Educator Weekend will be February 21-23 in Santa Clara. Below is a link with all details and registration info. 2020 New Educator Weekend NORTH - CTA Go!
Lastly, CTA is holding a food drive for LGBTQ youth in the county. A flyer is attached, and I'll be happy to help coordinate donation drop offs.
Thanks for all you do and have a great Thanksgiving holiday!!!
November 8, 2019
Hi FMEA members,
The latest edition of our FMEA newsletter is attached. Also attached is a flyer with details for an all-expense-paid trip for teachers to the Museum Of Tolerance in L.A. for a "Tools For Tolerance" diversity training. Here's the link to register: https://forms.gle/r91QxJNDQC3H5ZyH6.
Our FMEA Bargaining Survey will be open for a little while longer, so take this quick survey if you haven't yet. We will begin bargaining for this year's raise and more in the coming months. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VD3RDJH
The recent district training on suspension created a lot of confusion and frustration. I do want to make sure you are clear that teachers still have the right to suspend. Principals won't be able to send students home for "willful defiance" but there are still plenty of other suspendible offenses that do allow principals to suspend home. These include "Caused...or threatened to cause physical injury...", "Caused...damage to school property or private property" and " Committed an obscene act or engaged in habitual profanity or vulgarity." Suspensions should only be a last resort, but it's important we know our rights. The full list of suspendible offenses can be found here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=48900.&lawCode=EDC
The district held interviews today for a new Director of I.T. to replace Hung, who resigned last month. Also, interviews were held this week for a new Assistant Superintendent of H.R. The Board is expected to announce their selections at the board meeting on Tuesday.
Lastly, there is a very important ballot initiative coming up in November 2020. The Schools And Communities First initiative will raise over $11.5B by making large commercial companies pay their fair share in property taxes. This will bring in an additional $4M for FMSD every year! We will be talking a lot more about this crucial initiative as we get closer to next year's election day.
Have a great long weekend!
October 25, 2019
Hi FMEA members,
Tuesday's FMSD School Board meeting had two big surprises. First, on a close vote, board members turned down the five-year renewal for Alpha Cornerstone charter school. Our board has never turned down a charter renewal before. This denial was based on the fact that Alpha Cornerstone has not had a single moderate-to-severe SDC student in its 10 year history! The charter school will definitely be appealing this decision to the County Board. I will let you know when that appeal is scheduled because we will want the County Board to here from district teachers.
The board also voted to offer a retirement incentive for the second year in a row! Just like last year, this incentive (known as a SERP) is open to all FMEA folks who are at least 55, with 5 years in the district. Participants in the SERP would receive the equivalent of 65% of your salary if you resign June 30th (deadline to notify HR is January 24th). The SERP will go through if at least 15 certificated folks sign up. All eligible employees should receive notification from the district with all details, but feel free to let me know if you have any questions.
Today is the FMSD open enrollment deadline. Anthem/Blue Cross will no longer be an option, Anthem folks will have to choose between Health Care United (HCU) and Kaiser. The list the district sent out this morning seems to be out of date by a day or two. Let me know if you are having any challenges getting your benefits resolved.
Here is a link to our 2019 FMEA Bargaining Survey. Please complete it by the end of the month if possible. We will begin bargaining in December or January.
FMEA 2019 Bargaining Survey
FMEA 2019 Bargaining SurveyWeb survey powered by SurveyMonkey.com. Create your own online survey now with SurveyMonkey's expert certified F...
There is a teacher student loan forgiveness workshop on November 4th. The attached flyer has all details. RSVP at: https://tinyurl.com/Nov4StudentDebt.
October 17, 2019
Tomorrow is our annual FMEA Oktoberfest happy hour. We will be at Stanley's Sports Bar, located above Sharks Ice, from 3:30-6pm, with free food and drinks for the first hour (and free stuff for new teachers the whole time!). It looks like they will have some other events going on so if you don't see us in the front area then walk around to the back. I hope to see you tomorrow because these are always fun!
October Rep Council highlights:
1. The FMEA student track meet is a week from Saturday at Sylvandale, from 9:30am-noon. Come by and support our students. We have at least eight schools participating. Big thanks to the those helping coordinate this at sites.
2. FMEA needs a new editor for our newsletter. There is a $500 stipend for this position and the only requirement is that you are familiar with Publisher. Let me know if you are interested.
3. Most CTA cards have been distributed, except for folks who are at multiple sites or are brand new. If you still don't have your CTA card let me know.
4. Our school board is looking into creating clearer policies regarding 8th grade participation in promotion activities. The district will be scheduling meetings soon for the board to listen to teachers, as well as parents and students, about what needs to be included in this policy. I'm hopeful they will be responsive to our requests.
5. Below is a list of upcoming CTA conferences.
Issues Conference (Urban And Rural)
Location: Tropicana, Las Vegas, NV
Conference Date: January 17-19, 2020
Good Teaching Conference - North
Location: Fairmont Hotel, San Jose
Conference Date: February 7-9, 2020
Equity & Human Rights Conference
Location: Marriott, Irvine
Conference Date: February 28 - March 1, 2020LGBTQ+ Issues Conference
Location Hilton Financial District, San Francisco
Conference Date: December 13-15, 2019
New Educator Weekend
Location: Marriot, Santa Clara
Conference Date: February 21-23, 2020
To apply for an incentive grant visit www.CTAGo.org/grants.
To learn more about these conferences visit www.CTAGo.org
October 4, 2019
I hope your first two months of school are off to a good start. I'm sure we are all ready for this early October break!
Yesterday there was great news in Sacramento, as Governor Newsom signed into law two charter school bills, 1505 and 1507, that offer strong new restrictions on charter schools. These bills will not change the fact that FMSD already has numerous charter schools, but it makes it far less likely that we will get new charter schools in the future.
Our FMEA Oktoberfest is Friday, October 18th at 3:30pm at Stanley's Sports Bar. It's always fun, with free food and drinks for the first hour. New FMEA members are especially encouraged to attend, and will receive free food and drinks the whole event!
The FMEA student track meet is Saturday, October 26th at Sylvandale. We have half of our schools participating and look forward to adding more. Let me know if you want to get involved.
Health Benefits: Open enrollment is coming soon. Luckily those with Kaiser will see monthly premiums go down for a second year in a row. Those with Anthem/Blue Cross will actually be shifted to a different HMO, United HealthCare (UHC), but almost everyone should be able to keep their old doctors, and premiums will rise just slightly for a small group of employees.
The School Board will be putting together new Board Policy regarding who can participate in 8th grade promotion activities. After break there should be some meetings offered so that staff can give our input on what the new Board Policy should include.
As usual, CTA is offering a number of great conferences and events this year. Click the "more info" links for all details, including how to apply for scholarships.
LGBTQ+ Issues Conference (more info)
Application Deadline: October 7, 2019
Location: Hilton Financial District, San Francisco
Conference Date: December 13-15, 2019
Issues Conference (more info)
Application Deadline: November 4, 2019
Location: Tropicana, Las Vegas, NV
Conference Date: January 17-19, 2020
Good Teaching Conference - North (more info)
Application Deadline: November 4, 2019
Location: Fairmont Hotel, San Jose
Conference Date: February 7-9, 2020
Equity & Human Rights Conference (more info)
Application Deadline: January 6, 2020
Location: Marriott, Irvine
Conference Date: February 28 - March 1, 2020
Have a great October break!
September 13, 2019
Hi FMEA members,
Below are the highlights from Monday's FMEA Rep Council meeting. Thank you to all the Site Reps who attended, making this the first time in over a year that every site was represented!
FMEA Track Meet
The annual FMEA student track meet for grades 4th-8th will take place Saturday October 26th. Each participating site needs a Coordinating Teacher (CT). Please consider helping coordinate this for your site. Let me know if you have any questions or if you want to volunteer.
There will be an FMEA bargaining survey in the near future, and bargaining will begin in the coming months. We will once again be seeking a retroactive raise for the current school year. The district ending reserve increased by $1M last school year, but due to declining enrollment, many cuts are still slated for this year, including eliminating the HR Director position that was formerly held by Marcela Miranda.
Our first FMEA gathering of the year will be Friday, October 18th at Stanley's Sports Bar. A flyer is coming soon.
Join FMEA's text blast list: Text “@fmeamember” to 81010
Join the FMEA Group on Facebook. Just send a request to join.
Find all important FMEA documents on our website: www.fmea.mobi
Two Upcoming Events
Teacher Housing Town Hall: September 17th. See attached flyer.
Student Loan Forgiveness Workshop: November 4th. See attached flyer.
Charter School News
Hot off the press: Our state legislature just approved two bills that would give local school boards much more authority when faced with new charter schools attempting to enter a district. If Governor Newsom signs these bills it will be a huge improvement in state law regulating charter schools.
Have a great weekend!
September 3, 2019
Hi FMEA members,
I hope your school year is off to a great start! There are a few important topics I want to bring to your attention:
1. For all who are being evaluated this year, don't forget that last year's bargaining agreement reduced the number of written objectives you must provide, from six down to three. Two are chosen by the teacher and one by the principal.
2. CalSTRS recently audited our district and found that the way our off-schedule salary bonuses were written into the contract ran the risk of lowering what retirees receive. For that reason FMEA and the district are working to re-word the language in these past agreements. There is absolutely no change to the amount of compensation we receive, but this change will ensure that CalSTRS pays FMEA retirees as much as possible. I've attached the new language, which is in MOU form (Memorandum Of Understanding), as well as a separate page which goes into detail on why this was necessary. The School Board approved the MOU on Tuesday, and FMEA will be working with the district to fix the problem for other previous years that had off-schedule bonuses.
3. There is a new Personal Necessity (PN) form, and with it has come some confusion. Please note that you do not need to provide or circle a reason for any of your seven annual PN days.
4. Lastly, for any teachers who left a picture up in June of how your classroom should look, all furniture should have been put back in place. If this did not happen in your room let me know.
Have a great week!
August 16, 2019
Hi FMEA members,
Welcome to our new teachers! Returning teachers, I hope you had a rewarding and rejuvenating summer. It sounds like there are going to be some very full classes on Monday, but the district has until Labor Day to balance all classes and get under the contractual class sizes. After Labor Day you start collecting floating cap pay if your class is still over-enrolled. Don't forget, floating cap pay increased to $13 a day and is based on enrollment, not attendance.
Paula Boling retired over the summer, and Human Resources Director, Marcela Miranda, will be leaving to take a job at the County Office at the end of the month. The district is still looking for a permanent Assistant Superintendent of H.R. but in the meantime it looks likely that an interim will be brought in to head the department. This will be important because we are starting the year with a lot of openings, especially in SPED, and H.R. is in charge of recruitment and hiring.
The beginning of a new school year is always crucial, not just from an educational standpoint but from a union one as well. If something doesn't seem right, please let me know. There are always hiccups as the school year starts, and some problems become a lot harder to fix if they aren't caught right away.
I'm excited for another positive and productive year for FMEA. We will once again have a number of student events and other great ways to support the students and staff of Franklin-McKinley. Have a great first day of school and an awesome year!