Quolke's Corner 4/13/12

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On Thursday, the Cleveland Teachers Union came to agreement with Mayor Frank Jackson on proposed legislation to reform Cleveland Schools.
Let me be clear—this agreement is far from perfect. Like any compromise, there is give and take, but because it holds the promise of helping students in Cleveland succeed and it protects the voice teachers have in building a quality education system, it is an agreement we support and hopefully will be able to build off of.
The original legislation that was proposed would have eliminated collective bargaining, allowed the CEO to dismiss teachers at low performing schools, allowed teachers to be laid off based on where they are assigned – not based on what they do, eliminated continuing contracts, etc.
If that legislation passed in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate it would have been signed into law by Governor Kasich. This legislation would have had a devastating impact on educators in Cleveland and would have been detrimental to the quality of education in the district. By working with the mayor we believe that we have made bad legislation better for the benefit of educators and most importantly to move forward with our most important priority of providing a quality education and safe environment for the children that we see each day.
While this agreement may seem like the end of the process, it is only the beginning. A place holder bill was introduced in the House and Senate last week. A substitute bill reflecting this agreement will be introduced the week of April 30. There will be hearings held and we hope that the legislature will not amend or attempt to change portions of this legislation (like amending to put “fresh start” back in). So, while the CTU and the Mayor have an agreement, we will all have to vigilantly watch as this legislation makes its way through the halls of Columbus.
This bill is several hundred pages and there are many changes to the way that things are currently done in CMSD. Most of the bill will not be able to be implemented until our contract expires on June 30, 2013. We will begin to discuss the changes that were agreed to at the All Member Meeting on Wednesday, April 18. In the time frame that is available and with all that needs to be shared, we will not be able to cover all of the legislative changes, but we will cover all of the key portions. We will send information to all of our members via email and hard copy to help everyone understand all that is in this new legislation. 
Here is a synopsis of the agreement that is being submitted to the legislature:
Fresh Start – The provision that would have would allowed the district one-time only to bargain a new collective bargaining agreement from scratch and allowed the Board to unilaterally implement a temporary agreement has been removed from the legislation.
Low Performing Schools – The agreement allows the district to intervene in low performing schools after consulting and collaborating with the unions. The CEO will have the final authority to identify low performing schools and the intervention that is necessary in the school. Teachers and employees cannot and will not be fired just because they work in low performing schools.
Differentiated Salary Schedule – The agreement requires that the development of the new, differentiated salary schedule will be negotiated and not unilaterally developed by the Board. It also ensures that teachers will not receive substantial pay cuts simply because a new pay schedule is created.
Reduction in Force – When a RIF is necessary; teachers will be laid off in order of performance and contract status (limited 1, continuing 1, limited 2, continuing 2, etc.). When evaluations are equal, seniority will be used as a tiebreaker. Additional reasons for RIF like school building closing, loss of enrollment at a particular school, changing academic program have been removedfrom the legislation.
Teacher Evaluation – The agreement protects the district and CTU’s hard work on the modernized Teacher Development and Evaluation System, while expanding timelines and focusing on quality.
Teacher Assignments – Open positions in the district will be filled in all schools using personnel selection committee giving schools more autonomy (this is the current voluntary transfer process) and eliminating necessary transfers. The current process of identifying teachers for transfer remains intact.
School Year Calendar – The district will set the school year and the school day calendar for all district schools. Longer school year and school day must be compensated.
Sharing Levy Funds – We did not reach agreement on the provision that would allow the district to share levy money with high performing charter schools. We have agreed to disagree. 
Today, I am being brief so that everyone understands the basic tenants of the agreement. We will dive specifically into each area and share a more in depth analysis with all of our members. You will start to see information arriving in your building at the end of next week. The final wording of the legislation will be sent to the Legislative Service Commission and drafted as early as next week. When that becomes available we will share the entire document with everyone. 
While I do not believe that any of these issues need to be legislated and should instead be collectively bargained, this is the ball that we were thrown. When the Mayor’s Plan was unveiled, we were facing a much different bill then the one that will be presented in the coming weeks. 
In Union,