Arizona Education Association

Fall 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 39

A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE Fall.13advo.indd 26 Scottsdale EA Takes a Stand and Demands Respect After years of massive statewide cuts to education funding, a slowly recovering economy, and the loss of the penny sales tax funding, school district budget cuts in Arizona seem like the norm. After losing their override election last year, it wasn't surprising when Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) said it would be issuing budget cuts. However, the proposed $9 million cuts and 150 layoffs caught some off guard. "The initial reactions were appalling from members and teachers," says Scottsdale EA President Rony Assali. "It appeared the first round of cuts would, essentially, mostly come from the classrooms and teachers in the forms of pay reductions, insurance increases, and loss of programs." SUSD's original budget proposal included a one percent pay cut, increased insurance costs, and elimination of some positions, including nurses, librarians, counselors, district administration positions, classified staff, assistant principals, and half of specials (art, music, PE, etc.). SEA's Meet-and-Confer team sat down with the District's bargaining team to work on a budget solution. SEA's strategy during negotiations with the District at the bargaining table was to keep budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. SEA members got involved in budget and insurance committees to support negotiations. During budget negotiations, SEA organized the Respect Campaign. "It seemed that the classroom and the teachers who are doing the work at the ground level were not being respected based on the initial proposed cuts," says Assali. SEA ordered red shirts with the words "RESPECT" on them and asked SUSD employees to wear them every Friday. "We had several events to rally people, including our social – Red Out Bowling – and our attendance at governing board meetings," says Assali. "The goal was to pack the boardroom and show that these proposed cuts seemed to go after those on the ground level." They also involved parents and community members in the campaign to demonstrate community support. Parents sent out PTO-PTA communications asking parents to stand with teachers and dress students in red on Fridays. At one point the District proposed using teachers' 301 money to save teaching positions, a salary cut of about $1,900, and put the solution out to a vote to teachers against SEA's recommendation. SEA asked all teachers to abstain from voting and to stay united and strong. SUSD teachers put their trust in SEA's leaders and bargaining team and declined to take part in the vote. SEA's efforts paid off. The pay cut was eliminated and teachers kept all of their 301 money. All special, counselor, and nurse and most librarian positions were saved. The district cut half of the insurance costs and district administration took furlough days, pay cuts, and some positions were cut. Class sizes will still be higher this year, but it will still be under the class size maximum per the negotiated agreement. Of the proposed 150 teacher cuts, only 8 were sent Reduction-in-Force notices. It isn't a perfect outcome and it's hard to imagine what the alternative reality may have been. "Staying where you are is not that exciting," says Assali. "However, both members and nonmembers were able to see that we have organizing power, and that we do have a voice that reaches SUSD admin and our community." Looking forward SEA's next goal is to work to pass the override election in the fall. 2 26 Fall 2013 x AEA Advocate 8/7/13 2:35 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Arizona Education Association - Fall 2013