Volume 40, No. 17, March 21, 2012
Governing Board and Mesa Education Association teams have begun the Meet and Confer process. Their talks will lead to the development of a 2012-13 Working Conditions and Benefits document for certificated employees.
Special Issue: Meet and Confer Update
The Governing Board Team (GBT) and the Mesa Education Association Team (MEA) have begun the Meet and Confer process. This annual discussion will result in a Working Conditions and Benefits document, for the 2012-13 school year, and will apply to all certificated staff members.
- Pete Lesar (team spokesperson), assistant superintendent, Human Resources
- Jim Souder, principal, Mesa High
- Patty Christie, principal, Fremont Junior High
- Andrea Erickson, principal, Whitman Elementary
- Jill Bonewell, executive director, Human Resources
- Jan Cawthorne, executive director, Special Education
MEA team members
- Kirk Hinsey (MEA past president and team spokesperson), English and reading teacher, Taylor Junior High
- Val Angus, specialist, Professional Development; district coordinator, Advancement Via Individual Determination
- Eric Stuebner, first-grade teacher, Pomeroy Elementary
- Alex Reyes, teacher, AVID Spanish
- Jennifer Tellez-Carson, kindergarten teacher, Entz Elementary
- Mike Weaver, organizational consultant, Arizona Education Association
Feb. 13 meeting
At the kickoff meeting Feb. 13, team members reviewed the purpose of the Meet and Confer process, which is to discuss interests and concerns related to certificated staff and to provide recommendations to the Governing Board. The process will use interest-based decision making, focusing on:
- understanding issues
- working toward solutions
- honoring everyone’s experience and perspective
- deciding by consensus
- taking ownership of results
All team members agreed that to best meet the challenges of these changing times, sharing the process and the decisions will allow them to share the outcomes. To facilitate the process, team members will follow agreed-upon ground rules.
Articles open for discussion
An important first step in the process is to open articles, from the Working Conditions and Benefits document, that will be discussed during the process. Both teams agreed to discuss the following articles:
|ARTICLE NUMBER||ARTICLE NAME||OPENED BY|
|7||Class size||GBT and MEA|
|16||Health and welfare program||GBT|
|20||Part-time teacher rights||MEA|
|27||Professional travel funds||GBT|
|29||Reductions in personnel||GBT and MEA|
|34||Salary schedule for department specialists||GBT and MEA|
|35||Salary schedule for extended contracts||GBT and MEA|
|36||Salary schedule for extra factor||GBT and MEA|
|37||Salary schedule for psychologists,
|GBT and MEA|
|38||Salary schedule for substitutes||GBT and MEA|
|39||Salary schedule for teachers, counselors, nurses,
audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists
|GBT and MEA|
|46||Teacher preparation days||MEA|
|47||Transfer procedure||GBT and MEA|
|49||Tuition reimbursement||GBT and MEA|
Feb. 27 meeting
At the Feb. 27 meeting, the teams got down to work, discussing three of the opened articles.
Article 7: Class size
The discussion centered on the variability in class size that can occur within a school, grade level or department, while still meeting the district's average class-size target. The concept of caseload (number of students served by a teacher on a given day) was presented as an alternative method of establishing consistency in teacher workloads. Additional factors considered were instructional time, facility/equipment restrictions and course content.
Next steps: Gather data/information that will inform the discussion, including a better understanding of the range of class sizes, class sizes for secondary specialty programs and special circumstances that limit class size.
Article 23: Planning time
This article was opened by MEA to initiate conversation on the relationship between Professional Learning Communities and teacher planning time. Concerns exist that teacher participation in PLCs may encroach excessively on individual planning time which, in turn, may potentially affect the quality of instruction. The discussion included questions on the variability of PLC implementation at the individual sites and the impact as PLCs transition from a prescribed activity to an institutional culture.
Next step: Survey site administrators to better understand the range of PLC implementation practices and requirements.
Article 14: Flex days
The GBT requested minor language changes to clarify that a Personnel Action Request Form (PARF) must be submitted two weeks before earning a flex day.
Action taken: New language was approved and signed off that did not affect the intent of the article.
March 5 meeting
During the March 5 meeting, the teams continued discussing Articles 7 and 23, and they began discussing Article 44.
Article 7: Class size
The GBT provided data on student-teacher ratios and caseloads at a sample junior high school, and the team explained that additional data are being compiled for other junior highs and high schools. A discussion followed on the degree of variability based on subject, perceived trends, impact of inclusion students, and facility constraints.
The GBT also shared longitudinal data on elementary mean class size from the 2002-03 school year through the 2011-12 school year. Mean class size was surprisingly consistent and never reached the negotiated maximum. Participants were interested in understanding the range as well.
MEA referenced past language (that may have been in an addendum memo and not in the article), which reflected an agreement that class size would not be greater than specialized facilities could accommodate. For example, the number of computers in a classroom would limit the number of students in a computer class. The team discussed ideal vs. maximum capacity. For example, a computer lab may accommodate more students for group-based research than for individual instruction.
Next steps: The GBT will continue to collect data for future review; the GBT will research any existing documents on facility constraints.
Article 23: Planning time
The GBT distributed a draft questionnaire that would survey principals on PLC implementation. It was decided to include a free text question to capture short narratives on best practices.
Next steps: The GBT and MEA team members will provide recommended survey revisions to Pete Lesar.
Article 44: Student teachers
The GBT requested that the article reflect the language in Policy GEC, which states that principals are involved in student teacher placement. This is needed to track placement and performance of student teachers to ensure the experience is positive for all, and to best evaluate future employment potential. Additionally, the need exists to distinguish student teachers from other college or university interns, such as psychologists and nurses.
The GBT and MEA teams will continue their talks at 4 p.m. Mondays in the Governing Board Room at the Curriculum Services Center, 549 N. Stapley Drive, Mesa. Watch for additional Meet and Confer Updates as the process continues. Future meetings are currently set for March 26, and April 2 and 9.