SDEA Board Finally Adds Diverse Views to Committee Appointments

By Shane Parmely, Twain CR and CTA Delegate-elect

At the May 1 SDEA Board meeting, SDEA President Bill Freeman started off the Business section by putting forth his recommended appointments for the Board’s approval, and it was pleasantly surprising to see that for the first time, his appointments included members who have been outspoken in their questions and concerns about our union over the past year. Given the recent overwhelming election victories of Breakfast Club candidates, it is more than fair for the current SDEA leadership to begin to include more diverse perspectives on our union’s various workgroups and committees.

Bargaining Commission Appointments:

Freeman suggested 12 people for the Bargaining Commission, with space for 8 more.  Board member Erin Kole was upset when she saw the list of recommended members and asked Freeman, “Are you recommending these people?!”  She had objections, perhaps because the list included union members who have been vocal critics of previous SDEA Board actions, such as Board member-elect Peter Burrell.   Freeman and SDEA Vice President Lindsay Burningham responded that people would be trained to stay on message while out at school sites and that they would not be out promoting their own personal agendas.  Board members Dennis Schamp and Scott Mullin also objected, and the three of them voted against approving the list.

While discussing the need to recruit more members, it was noted that we need more representation from elementary schools and south of 8 schools.  Board member Ramon Espinal expressed concern that there aren’t any Latinos or teachers from schools with biliteracy programs on the Bargaining Commission.  And as the parent of two students in the Boone Elementary Spanish Immersion Program, I completely agree.  So if you are working with bilingual elementary students at a school South of 8, the Bargaining Commission needs your voice!

Election Committee Appointment:

Freeman also recommended a new appointment for the Election Committee: Roosevelt AR Bobbe Abts. In making his recommendation, Freeman told the Board that Abts had expressed interest in being on the Election Committee.  In fact, it was Freeman who recruited Abts to be on the Elections Committee. It’s good news that the Board finally wants to add new voices and viewpoints to our union’s committees, so why hide it? Kole and Schamp objected to Abts’ appointment as well, with Freeman and Burningham responding that it is time for the union to “move forward.” Abts’ appointment passed.

I think Abts will make a great addition to the Election Committee. Since immediately after the TA’s ratification in June, she has been advocating for a change to our Standing Rules that makes a lot of sense: requiring a signature envelope for ratification votes, just like we do for SDEA Board elections, so that members can all have confidence in our voting process. I look forward to the work that Abts will do on the Election Committee.

SDEA Budget:

The SDEA budget will have its first reading at the May 15 Rep. Council, and will be voted on at the June 5 Rep. Council. Burningham emphasized that at the first reading of the budget at Rep. Council, Reps need to have time to read and ask questions and talk about the budget so that they can understand it.  That should mean that we ARs/CRs get walked through the budget just like the SDEA Board so that we can understand what we are looking at, right?  Wrong.  Apparently it means that Reps will have to take it home and do that on their own because “we can’t go through the whole thing at Rep Council.”  The Board was horrified by the thought of how long that would take.

While going through the budget, Freeman took a moment to reiterate that he is an educator and that he takes furlough days like all educators.  The difference between him and other educators, he stated, is that he chooses to work on his furlough days. (I’m guessing a lot of us actually do…) Dramatically, Schamp chimed in, “So contrary to published rumors, you do take 5 furlough days?”  Freeman said yes and talked a little but he mostly avoided the bait.  Then Kole asked in an equally dramatic voice, “So did you *just* start taking the furlough days *this* year or have you been taking them since they started?”  Freeman went on to tell everyone that he’s an educator paid by the District and that he’s subject to all the same rules and agreements as all the other educators are.  Except that he’s not.  No matter how many times he says it.  The work year for the SDEA President is not set by the SDEA-SDUSD contract. It is set by the SDEA governance documents at 248 days. What Freeman has not answered is how many work days he has been paid for during his three years as SDEA President — the past three furlough years. If he’s been taking furlough days, that means he should have been getting paid for 243, not 248 days. Either way, it’s easy enough to settle.  We just need to know what step and column Bill is on and we can do the math ourselves.

When the subject of Executive Director Tim Hill’s salary came up, I was really shocked to see how much more he is making than our previous ED.  And I almost don’t believe what I heard because Hill repeatedly said that SDEA pays 1/3 of his salary and that CTA covers the rest.  But we are budgeting to pay him $119,079 next year, so how much does he make?!  That math can’t be right. And let me remind you that CTA money is OUR money.  Those are the dues they collect from us each month.

The teachers who attended the budget hearings and I have several other concerns and questions about this budget, and I’m guessing you might too. Since the SDEA Board indicated that there won’t be time for Reps to ask their questions about the budget at Rep. Council, the Breakfast Club is emailing out the draft of the budget that was passed out at the SDEA Board meeting below to our email list (if you’re an SDEA member who isn’t on the list, sign up HERE!). This is not secret information. It’s the same info that ARs will be given at Rep. Council. But I think members should have a chance to have their questions raised at the first reading, or else how are we supposed to tell our ARs how we want them to vote on behalf of our site? And if the ARs won’t be given time to read the budget and ask questions tomorrow, how can they explain it to us? So please take a few minutes to read the budget and pass your questions along to your AR for tomorrow’s Rep. Council to make sure we can all help our ARs make an informed vote.

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