Thursday, June 7, 2007

THIS IS NOT A SOLUTION!

I was preparing a response to the proposed changes of Board Meetings when this comment got posted. Thank you "anonymous".

I think this change is one of those mean-spirited CandyLand "gotcha"s, if you know what I mean.
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I realize this doesn't really belong on this comment chain, but I am wondering if anyone else is concerned about the change of School Board meeting times to THREE pm starting in September. (April Griffin has the link to yesterday's Trib article on her blog.) I see several reasons why this might be a problem, and I have pasted in my letter to the Board expressing these concerns.


I'm interested in what you think.



Dear Board Members,
I am writing in response to your recent decision to change your meeting times from 5 pm to 3 pm. While I sincerely appreciate your efforts to be more accommodating to teachers and members of the general public who might wish to make comments at Board meetings, I nonetheless feel that your present plan contains many problems.

*As you know, many private citizens work until 5 pm. Shifting the time of the meeting to 3 pm would require many of these citizens desiring to address the Board to take several hours off work, as opposed to possibly just leaving a little early as they presently do.

*Middle and high school students and staff being recognized at a Board meeting will now need to miss time at school, which will additionally require said students to fill out School Business forms and miss classes. Thus, the new meeting time ends up requiring more paperwork and potentially inconveniencing schools whose administrators now have to miss possibly the entire afternoon of school in order to arrive at ROSSAC by 3 pm (depending of course on their respective travel times, etc).

*I know you are also aware that secondary schools release at 2:45 or later, and middle schools typically release later still. Many teachers--at all grade levels--work at locations far from ROSSAC and thus will need travel time to get there if they desire to attend a meeting. Thus many teachers would not possibly be able to arrive at a meeting before 4 pm, depending on how far they have to travel.

* While an online speaker's list will certainly facilitate the process, any principal who wants to discourage his/her teachers from attending or even speaking at a Board meeting need only hold a faculty meeting on that day. Indeed, TUESDAY is the typical faculty meeting day for high schools. The current contract says meetings may hold teachers as much as 50 minutes after their workday ends. With the 20 minutes of additional paid time in our work day thus potentially delaying even the beginning of such a meeting, a principal could easily prevent teachers from even leaving their schools until as late as 4 pm. A teacher at a school distant from ROSSAC who then needs an hour of travel time would thus effectively be stopped from speaking at Board meetings. I can tell you that many of my colleagues have already faced harassment and retribution for their work against the 300 min policy. Therefore, moving your meeting time 2 hours earlier makes it EASIER for principals to prevent teachers from attending these meetings.

*Any teacher who earns extra money by working in the Extended Learning Program or teaching night school classes (as I do) will have to miss the entire afternoon's work in order to attend the meeting at all. Thus even attending the meeting at all will cost hardworking teachers extra money. I myself have given up night school time (having made sure in advance that there was a teacher to cover me) in order to attend meetings. Since our night school classes met on Tuesday and Thursday from 3-6 pm, I lost easily $75.00 simply to attend these meetings. I did this on two separate occasions for meetings I felt it was important to attend from the beginning, but on subsequent occasions I simply came to the meeting after night school ended. Under the new schedule, I will not have this option. Under the new schedule, I will literally have to lose income in order to attend a meeting at all, as meetings will now likely be OVER by the time I could get there after my class was over.

For all these reasons and possibly even more that I haven't considered yet, I believe that the new meeting time of 3 pm will actually HINDER the participation and attendance of community members and teachers at School Board meetings. I appreciate your desire to make these meetings more accessible to more people, but the change in schedule does not, for the reasons I have cited, do that at all. In fact, the new time only makes it HARDER for teachers even to attend, never mind speak at, Board meetings. For all these reasons, I seems practical to me to keep the 5 pm meeting time but change the position of speakers within the meeting. If you were to place speakers after recognitions, say, ahead of the discussion of agenda items, you would still be giving ANY speaker wishing to address the Board attention early in the meeting and showing them respect by not making them wait until the very end of a possible long meeting. You would also be maintaining the current opportunity for teachers and private citizens to ATTEND meetings within our very busy schedules, allowing for travel time and the school bell schedules. Maintaining the current meeting time of 5 pm will also make it harder for principals or anyone else to interfere with teachers who might wish to at least attend if not address School Board meetings.

For all these reasons, I ask you to reconsider this decisions and maintain the current meeting start time, increasing community opportunities to address the Board simply by changing the point at which audience participation occurs.

Sincerely,

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Isn't it ironic that the board can change their times to "stay fresh" but will approve the 6/7 schedule which does the polar opposite to employees?
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Bargaining Dates (Thanks Sys!)

"There are 3 bargaining sessions in the last of of June. We need teachers to attend these.

Monday - 6/25, 1-4:45

Thursday - 6/28, 1:30-5

Friday - 6/29, 2-5

All at CTA Headquarters. They expect to be done that week."

8 comments:

Goader said...

I assume that workshops and other public meetings of the school board take place during the day. It is only the twice per month public meetings that are in question concerning changing the starting time. Apparently, everyone agrees that these meetings need to be held late in the day to allow citizens who work to attend without disrupting their workday.

I can understand people do not want to have to be there sometimes late in the evening. However, beginning the meeting too early will exclude many people attending the first hour or two. In my case, it takes me 45 minutes to drive downtown; therefore, the first hour is definitely shot if the meeting begins a three. Since high school teachers are contracted until 3ish and it takes 15 minutes to get out of the parking lot, realistically teachers might begin the trip downtown by 3:20 at the earliest. The best case scenario puts this teacher's arrival at just after 4pm. Needing 10 or 15 to tie up some lose ends puts the arrival at between 4:15 and 4:20, which I think is reasonably late but still timely.

The obvious suggestion to me then is to compromise and change the start time to 4 o'clock. If the board uses the online speaker scheduling system (great idea), I believe most people can be accommodated.

(It wouldn't hurt to have some snacks for people with low blood sugar. Have a couple of local restaurants alternate each week supplying finger sandwiches—free advertising and promotions. Okay, forget the food, or, maybe an aspiring restaurateur will approach the board with an alternative promotional idea.)

[Duplicate on "Sound Off"]

Suzie Creamcheese said...

How about RE-FORMATING the meetings?

Item Number(s) (100's)
Board Comments and Questions 15-30 minutes
Staff or Committee Answers Comments

Public Input
******************
Item Number(s) (200's)
Board Comments and Questions 15-30 minutes
Staff or Committee Answers Comments

Public Input
******************

You get the point.

The Agenda Items do NOT have to be in numerical order. Recognitions can be early. The Board and Superintendent's Report can be later. Employee Issues can be set to a specific time depending on the nature of the topic.

The Agenda and order can be set the Thursday before the Tuesday meetings to allow for flexibility and communications.

I suspect that after a couple of months an efficient template would evolve that would satisfy the district and public needs.

My point is to provide flexibilty for ALL matters and people without the anger that is generated by waiting through PR accolades and self-serving comments that can be better publicized by Mr. Hagerty's office. (Not to be snide but really, who cares what the National Association of School Board Members thinks of our district?)

It would also set a more friendly management style at the local level.

Goader said...

This is eery.

Suzie Creamcheese said...

Yeah, right.

I say what will be eerie will be the hallways due to a lack of teachers who show up.

Will they be trained and paid "combat pay" to staff the shelters?

First teacher that gets injured will own the district.

Let's see how many Pasco teachers actually show up for hurricane duty instead of attending to their family.

Lets see how many UNION officials show up.

Label this:

Florida
Catastrophic
Alternative
Travesty

Really, no superintendent can put a teacher in harms way unless the teacher allows it.

Anonymous said...

Like Lee has proposed many times and like Suzie Creamcheese says, the meetings could be rearranged. County Commission meetings allow public input both at the beginning and the end of the meetings. Why can't the school board do that?

virgin cynic said...

Simple: The majority don't care to hear from the public. They do not recognize our value or contributions.

They "instruct" our teachers on how to do things in the classroom yet refuse to model the same behaviors they expect from their employees.

The majority has no authentic interest in what the public has to say.

If they did it would show.

possum said...

If you watched this Tuesday's Board meeting, you know that they are going to discuss the issue of Board Meeting times/formats at the Workshop on June 19th. According to the schedule I have, that's a 10 am meeting. Ironic, since most working stiffs can't make it then? I personally can't make it, as I am one of the aforementioned working stiffs this summer, but maybe some of you can, and would. I think someone needs to point out to them that they are running a very serious risk of telling teachers that they are trying to block us from participating--April Griffin says on her blog that such is not the intent, and I have had similar response to my own letter to the Board on this subject. I am guessing that there may actually be no malicious intent here--just another case of people who don't get it. Call me naive, but we might actually be able to make some headway on this one.

Like I said, I am working, but I heartily encourage those of you who can to write letters to the Board (which I've already done) and/or attend the 10 am workshop on June 19. It is, of course, at the usual place.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who have not figured this out yet. The Public meetings are merely a formality!
They make their decisions at the work shops. By the time anything is presented at the public meetings, it's already a done deal!