In January 2018 the Battle Ground Education Association (BGEA), the union for the Battle Ground Teachers Association. signed a new one (1) year contract with the Battle Ground School Board/District. We wanted to know what (if any) changes between the new and old might be. This article is an explanation of the “saga” we went through to get an answer. At the bottom is a link to the summary of the changes. You judge whether the changes are significant or not. What’s more important is understanding what it took to get the summary.
- We contacted the BG admin office and asked for a copy of the new contract when it was released. We were told to file a Public Information Request (PiR) which we did. We were told to expect the released version on/about Feb 5th. We did receive it on Feb 5th.
- Subsequently we followed up and asked if the Board/District could provide a summary of changes (or redline) of/between the new and old contracts. On Feb 8th Trudy Storey (at the BG admin office) responded that ” Per RCW 42.56.280, preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intraagency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended are exempt from public disclosure and will not be released.” We responded and said we just wanted a summary. We didn’t want their notes. They refused to provide a summary.
- We then filed a PiR for the old contract which we received on February 13th.
- On Feb 26th we emailed the School Board President (Ken Root) again asking for a summary of changes in the contracts. On February 27th here’s what Mr. Root said in an email: “If you want to compare the two contracts, we will send you the older contract and you can compare the two. We do not have anything prepared that does this for you.” Sincerely, Ken
- On February 27th we emailed Linda Peterson (President of the BGEA) asking if she/they could/would supply a summary of the changes. We have not received a response as we post this article.
- On February 27th we emailed the Washington State House and Senate representatives for District 17 (Wilson. Kraft and Harris) & District 18 (Rivers, Pike and Vick) explaining what we had taken in the way of actions and steps to try to get a summary of the changes and asking them for guidance and suggestions on how to get a summary. Several of them responded during the course of the day. Here’s what we said in the email to them: “As I send this message I’m working on finding a way to do a merge/comparison of the pdf documents in an attempt to identify changes. If the financial differences aren’t evident the only way to get numbers would be from the district but they are refusing to supply any data. Is it reasonable that the public should be able to ask for a summary of the changes and financial impact? Should the public be told to figure it out for themselves? Are they trying to hide something? What of transparency and openness? Is the use of the RCW appropriate in this situation?”
If you have any suggestions or guidance I would very much appreciate hearing back.
The old and new contracts are on file. We are not providing them here because they are HUGE. One is 34mb in size. If you do want to see them let us know and we can make arrangements to place them in a folder online for download or you can contact the BGSD directly and get a copy.
Are there any changes? Yes. Here are those with a financial impact:
- Part lV – Section I Workday – Preparation Time: K-8 media technicians increased to 6.5 hours per day to assure libraries remain open. This is an increase of .5 hours at most primary schools and 2.5 hours at middle schools. ($69,000 annual increase). Increased time will begin 2nd semester of 2017-18.
- Part IV Section 2 Employee-student ratio: Minor changes to clarify practices in overload payments. Moving health room assistants from 5.25 hours per day to 6 hours to match student
day ($64,000 annual increase). Increased time will begin 2nd semester of 2017-18.
- Part lV Section 5 Extended Work Year: Curriculum Rate (Previously the curriculum rate was $27.69, the new rate will be retroactive back to beginning of the 2017-18 school year.) Certificated employees who work on special assignments will be paid an hourly rate of thirty-two dollars ($32.00). This salary will be paid for curriculum development. Short term teaching assignments, staff workshops, home instruction, and other similar activities.
- Part IV – Section 6 TRI Compensation: (Approx. $2.9 million increase for the 2017-18 school year.) For the 2017-2018 school year annual TRI will be equal to 16.7 Percent
(16.7%) of each general education and CTE employee’s placement on the SAM (state salary schedule) in the 2017-18 school year. For all other employees (counselors, psychologists and teacher/librarians, school nurses and special education staff) annual TRI pay will be an amount equal to 13.9 percent (13.9%) of the employee’s placement on the SAM (state salary schedule) for the 2017-18 school year.
- From a cost standpoint, for the 2017/2018 BGSD budget expenses increased by ~$3,033,000 for the listed changes
- Judge for yourself whether the changes in the new contract and associated costs are ok or not
- Judge for yourself the “process” required to get answers. From our standpoint it was not transparent and gave the impression of trying to hide the information. If we had not persisted and gone back multiple times and not accepted “NO” as an answer the public may never have known what the changes were.
- With the State funding changes occurring starting in 2018/2019 there may be less money for the “extra” personnel (~30% of the total staff) now paid through the levy. Will that require staff to be released? We’ve asked that question multiple times but haven’t gotten an answer yet.
- Where will funding for Maintenance and Asset Preservation come from? Under the new rules “Levy Money” can only be used for “Enrichment”. Here is a link to a possible explanation of what the term means: http://billsblog-wasa.weebly.com/blog-entries/enrichment-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder Will enough money to take care of facilities be available and how will the public be assured that the School Board Directors will make sure the funding is enough?
- There is an area that won’t come to the fore for ~1 year. Take a look a the following excerpt. Depending on how this goes there could be a decrease or increase in extra personnel. The Union and the District will form a team to do the evaluation. Note: This has been in place at Pleasant Valley for ~6 years. The first 2 years there appeared to be some benefit but after that no continued improvements were definable…but the program has continued.