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Recent News

April 06, 2017

TAAAC Update

On April 5, 2017, TAAAC’s Association Representative Council ratified a tentative agreement on changes to the prescription drug co-payment tiers. The agreement was reached through negotiations that began over a year ago on March 20, 2016. It is anticipated that the Board of Education will hold its ratification vote on April 19, 2017. A summary of the tentative agreement follows, and list of current Specialty drugs.

April 4, 2017
Settlement Summary

Prescription Copayments

Note that the changes in the prescription copayment tiers negotiated to take effect on July 1, 2017, will not take effect until January 1, 2018. As a result, the current copayment amounts will continue for an additional six months.

TAAAC/Board Tentative Agreement on FY2017 Prescription Copays

Current F/T Active Prescription Tiers:

  • Generic: $5
  • Preferred brand name: $15
  • Non-preferred brand name: $25
  • Copayments for specialty drugs are charged at the non-preferred brand name rate.

Tentative F/T Active Prescription Tiers
  1/1/18 1/1/19 1/1/20
Generic $5 $5 $5
Preferred Brand $20 $20 $20
Non-Preferred Brand $35 $35 $35
Specialty* $50** $65** $75**

Once ratified, the proposed tier structure remains in place and may not be altered until 1/1/21. (*) For the purposes of this provision, specialty drugs are defined as only those specialty drugs that are injectable until 1/1/2019, at which time the definition specialty drug may expand. Insulin may not be considered a specialty drug under either pre- or post-2019 definitions.

(**) The dollar amounts listed as copays for specialty drugs are subject to maximums allowable. The actual amount due from the employee shall be either the dollar amount listed or 50% of the actual cost at the counter, whichever is less.

February 14, 2017

Annapolis High Staff Advocates to Retain Incentives.

READ PDF

October 07, 2016

Updates and ARC Follow up

Department Chairs in Observations

One of the member concerns brought to us recently was the issue of whether a department chair from one department is allowed to conduct observations in another. For example, consider a social studies department chair conducting an observation in an art or physics class. Members in schools where that such cross-department observations are being conducted need to know that the collective bargaining agreement does not allow it. The pertinent provisions are excerpted below from Article 16.B.4:

All non-teaching department chairpersons shall conduct observations of teachers and participate in the evaluation process within the department. Other department chairpersons may conduct observations of teachers and participate in the evaluation process within the department in accordance with the following guidelines…

Members in buildings where this is occurring should contact TAAAC and speak with their UniServ Director. This concern can be handled through the appropriate grievance.

Planning Time Misinterpretation

The following language from Article 11C in the collective bargaining agreement is being widely misinterpreted to the detriment of teachers in our elementary schools:

For all teachers, if individual planning time is used for required group planning, an equal amount of time during the teacher workday will be set aside for individual planning time.

The sentence was added near the end of the provision for individual planning more than 15 years ago, and was intended to be provide some flexibility to administrators that may on occasion have a need to encroach into scheduled individual planning time. It was not intended to be, nor should it be, a pass for administrators to regularly schedule collaborative or group planning during what should be individual planning for the delivery of instruction. This issue, like the one above, may be subjected to the grievance process.

October 21st / MSEA Convention Day / Professional development Day

October 21st is a duty-day. On the AACPS calendar, it’s a professional development day for educators who report to their worksite. Those who choose to attend the MSEA convention may do so at no cost of leave and no requirement to submit evidence of workshops attended. The text from a memo distributed by Deputy Superintendent Monique Jackson is pasted below:

Teachers who attend the MSEA Convention on Friday, October 21, 2016, do not have to provide written evidence of their attendance. Principals certainly should encourage those teachers to bring back useful information and share that information with their faculty and staff.

As a reminder, the sub system is the official reporting system for leave for Unit I teachers. Employees who do not report to work are required to call their absence into the sub system. For those attending the MSEA Convention, they should indicate the reason as “Meeting No Sub.” No budget code is required; however, they are to indicate NO to the question:“Is a Substitute required?” If you have any questions, please call the Substitute Office on 410-222-5068.

October 12th Salary Distribution / Retroactive Pay

It was just confirmed that the impact of FY17 step increases will be reflected in the next week’s pay distribution.

Also on October 12th, members on salary step 25 will receive their lump sum payment by separate check. Early statements to the contrary notwithstanding, the correct amount of the one-time lump payment is $926.31 (before withholding).

While not yet guaranteed, it looks like all retroactive money due will be paid on October 26th, well ahead of the agreed deadline of December 31st.

october 03, 2016

Negotiations Begin / Survey Coming

Negotiations between TAAAC and the Board for fiscal year 2018 kicked off on September 29th. The session was intended to cover some preliminary issues, and accomplished what was intended. The teams got re-acquainted, a negotiating calendar was prepared through March 22th, 2017, and the joint committee on extra-curricular classification created in the previous Agreement was more clearly defined and its first meeting scheduled. The next negotiations session is scheduled for November 3, 2016, at which proposals will be exchanged. Unless an extension is mutually agreed upon, the window to offer new proposals will close at the end of that session.

A bargaining survey will be distributed over the next few business days to all TAAAC members for whom we have personal email addresses. Please encourage colleagues who may have not provided us with a private email to do so. Those who are uncertain whether their addresses are on our list should look at their inboxes and spam folders and check for this message.

Memorial Service

This distribution list is typically reserved for bargaining and bargaining-related topics. Please permit this rare diversion:

A memorial service has been scheduled for Charles R. LoCascio, who passed away on July 29th while retired and residing Virginia. Charles began as a teacher-activist in TAAAC in the late 1960’s, took a position as an MSTA UniServ Director, and later became TAAAC’s Executive Director. He retired in the summer of 2003 after serving in the roll of Executive Director for nearly two decades. Charles did a lot of good work for a lot of good people, many of whom are still employed and on this distribution list. They would not want to be left uninformed.

There is a local memorial service scheduled for the benefit of Charles’ many Maryland friends. It will be held on Saturday, November 12, at 1:00pm at Saint Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Pleasant Plains Road, Annapolis, Maryland. There will be a reception afterwards.



September 09, 2016

TAAAC Representatives Ratify Contract at September Association Representative Council TAAAC Reps gathered at Severna Park Middle School on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 for the first Association Representative Council. 122 Reps were in attendance during the meeting for a 73% representation. 84 units (school buildings) were present for an 62% representation.

The straw ballot put out to all Unit 1 employees with the help of AACPS email system brought in 730 YES votes and 191 NO votes.

TAAAC Executive Director presented the proposed agreement and fielded questions from Reps. The vote was conducted by secret ballot. The final vote count was 110 YES and 11 NO. The contract was declared ratified with 90% of Reps present in favor.

The next step involves the Board of Education casting their vote on the contract. In all likelihood it will take place at their September 21, 2016 meeting at 7:00PM at the BOE on Riva Rd. All indications are that the Board of Education will ratify. Keep looking for updates when the Board’s vote occurs.

September 06, 2016

Tentative Agreement Item Adjusted

In the Q&A document distributed on August 30, 2016, there was a question as to whether the one-time payment to employees on Step 25 would be included in the average final salary for the purposes of retirement benefit calculation. On August 30th we did not have a definitive answer. We have since confirmed that the one-time payment cannot be considered part of average final salary, and it provoked the Board and TAAAC to modify the amount of the payment.

The $883.80 amount originally calculated during mediation was a matter of taking available funding and dividing it among the Unit I employees on Step 25. Within that amount however was a $42.51 charge to cover the employer’s contribution to the employee’s retirement. That charge reduced the payment to cover an expense that we now know will not be incurred. So, the parties agreed to keep money in the employee’s pocket. The one-time payment will be increased to a pre-tax amount of $926.31. The projected cost of the package did not change. The only modification was that $42.51 that would otherwise have gone to the state pension system for each employee impacted will now stay with the employee.

On Confidentiality in Negotiations

Confidentiality in negotiations has been getting some attention over the past year. It is hardly unique to Anne Arundel County. Some level of confidentiality is nearly universal in collective bargaining. There are a few reasons, and in mediation the participating parties have little choice in the matter.

The Negotiated Agreement shared by TAAAC and the Board provides the following in Article 22E:

The content of negotiations discussions shall be regarded as confidential. There shall be no public announcement or press releases on the content of negotiations discussions prior to the (1) successful conclusion of negotiations or (2) impasse being declared by the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board, unless by mutual agreement.

The above provision shall not prevent the Board team from seeking guidance from the Board and staff or the TAAAC team from seeking guidance from its members.

The above language has existed in the Negotiated Agreement in the same substantive form since 1970, and it is not unusual to find such provisions in other collective bargaining agreements. By its nature, negotiations often involve difficult conversations and some honest no-holds-barred discussion. Those types of conversations are unlikely to occur when there is risk that the content might appear on a blog, website, tweet, or barroom conversation. In practice, there is really no solid agreement on any individual items until the entire package is settled, and prospective settlement can easily be disrupted if either party begins sharing it in pieces for a public debate on each piece.

Maintaining confidentiality is sufficiently commonplace that professional impartials typically insist on it during mediation. We have been in mediation four times over the past six years before three mediators. Each required at least a verbal commitment to confidentiality that was recorded in the notes. One required that every team member for both parties in the room sign a written agreement.

August 11, 2016

Mediation Begins on Monday, August 15, Some Input Needed

Mandatory mediation is scheduled to begin in four more days. TAAAC is preparing some exhibits that will contrast Anne Arundel County’s treatment of salaries and wages of certificated public school educators with those of most other Anne Arundel County government employee bargaining units. For those who may not already be aware, teachers have not been treated at the same standard; and it’s not just TAAAC’s bargaining unit that has received disparate treatment. There are two other bargaining agents on the school system side of the ledger that have reached impasse as well.

But off the topic of salary, one of the Board’s best and final offers involves another expansion in the use of selected Unit 1 personnel in the observation and rating of Unit 1 colleagues. The following is proposed by the Board:

All department chairpersons and select Student Services Teacher Specialists assigned to central office shall conduct observations of Unit 1 employees and participate in the evaluation process within the department in accordance with the following guidelines (note the absence of department-wide voting):

  • The chairperson and select system-based Teacher Specialists must be trained in classroom observation.
  • The involvement of the chairperson in the observation process must be by mutual agreement of the department chairperson and the principal.
  • This program will be reviewed in the summer of 2017by a jointly appointed committee. Recommendations from the committee will be reviewed by the negotiation teams during a special session. Program expansions and revisions will be made upon mutual agreement.

It might be helpful for TAAAC to show the mediator comments made by non-department chair (and non-specialist) Unit 1 employees regarding their being observed and rated by Unit 1 colleagues. It might also be helpful to hear from impacted Unit 1 department chairs and student services teacher specialists. Issues for all concerned would include the impact on the collegial relationships and workload.

Input on this matter was requested about a year ago and much of the response was critical. Over the course of this year, however, involvement of department chairs in observations has increased. The question is being asked again so we can ascertain to what extent objections have been overcome or yet remain. Please provide what direct input you have by close of business tomorrow, August 12, by email to BJones@mseanea.org.

July 08, 2016

Mediation Scheduled

The schedule has been confirmed for negotiating teams of TAAAC and the Board to participate in mediation sessions on August 15, 24, and 26. If mediation is successful, there may be time to have an agreement presented to Unit I employees by electronic ballot; then to hold a ratification election at the Association Representative Council September 7, 2016. If a mediated agreement does not result, there will be some additional delay and I have no way to estimate how long that delay may be nor what the result would be.

The parties will be entering into a non-disclosure agreement as they did last year, and as required by the mediator. Updates cannot occur between sessions or immediately after sessions.

Late Proposal

Readers may recall that the members of TAAAC’s negotiating team initiated grievance after the Board’s team presented a proposal in tended to away the negotiated process for reviewing or challenging disciplinary actions such as warnings and reprimands. That grievance was scheduled for binding arbitration on July 28th. Yesterday (7/7/16), the Board agreed to withdraw that late proposal. There will be no need for the July 28th hearing, and proposal will not be considered during mediation. It is with near certainty that the proposal will re-surface in negotiations for FY2019.

June 30, 2016

Contract Mediation Progress

Progress toward contract mediation was made this morning via conference call between negotiators for the Board and TAAAC with the mutually selected impartial mediator. The mediators requested some further information from each party and offered dates ranging from the middle of July through late August. Each party is in the process of surveying its respective team members for availability.

If the mediation is successful, TAAAC may be in position to have an agreement to present for ratification at the September Association Representative Council.

TAAAC Sick Leave Bank, Good News for Current Enrollees

In the spring of 2011, TAAAC and the Board went into negotiations specifically to make necessary changes in the operation of the Sick Leave Bank (SLB). Among the items to be addressed was a $525,000 limit to days a that the Sick Leave Bank Approval Committee (SLBAC) was allowed to grant. Each day was valuated at a per diem rate computed from the average annual AACPS salary of the previous year. Over time, increases in both the number of enrollees and the value of each day granted far outran the dollar amount limit. It had to be raised or eliminated at the risk of becoming a much diminished benefit. Among other changes to the operation of the SLB, the eventual outcome included an elimination of the dollar amount limit, thereby allowing the SLBAC to grant any amount of days up to the total amount of days contributed by enrollees.

From that year through to the present, the SLB collected a sick leave day from every enrollee. That was not the practice when it labored under the dollar amount limit. There was no purpose in collecting more days that could be granted. For various reasons, one being the conscientious and judicious approach to grant requests by the SLBAC, there is a surplus of days rolling over into the coming year.

So, at its end-of-year meeting the SLBAC unanimously resolved the following for FY2017:

  • SLB enrollees on record as of today, June 30, 2016, will remain in the SLB through the June 30, 2017, and will not need to contribute a day. They will need to take no action to remain in the bank. AACPS Payroll staff will be advised not to deduct the day from the individual accounts.
  • New hires and other new enrollees coming into the SLB will need to contribute, and that contribution will be one (1) day.
  • The SLBAC will reserve the right to collect an additional half-day in the unlikely event that it becomes necessary during the year.
  • The SLBAC action effectively provides over 4,400 enrollees a short term disability income protection product free of charge.

Conflicts of Interest

TAAAC, like all unions in the US, is a corporation. It is chartered under Section 501(c)5 of the Internal Revenue Code and operates under the pertinent laws and regulations. Like all corporations, it has a governing body. TAAAC’s elected governance consists of its Board of Directors, consisting of three officers (President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer) and nine Directors. Those officers and directors share the same fiduciary responsibilities to TAAAC that is required of any governance of any corporation. Among those responsibilities are the duties of care and loyalty. These obligations exist whether the discussion involves governance of TAAAC, the United Way, or ExxonMobile.

An inherent conflict of interest exists in any situation where a corporation’s Director administers, contributes to, or otherwise participates in, an outside organization that proclaims its purpose to be the "watch dog" of the corporation. The conflict is readily apparent when postings to the outside organization’s social media page are often untrue, inaccurate, to the detriment of the corporation; and cannot be fact-checked or policed by those who possess complete information. Unfortunately, the situation described above is one that TAAAC will soon face unless the conflict is resolved.

The Bruised Apples Facebook page has been quite active over a controversy involving an allegation that TAAAC’s President and Executive Director directed the two Directors-elect to shut down the Bruised Apples Facebook page that they founded. I am obliged to provide information that has not been part of the discussion (to my knowledge) but cannot be overlooked. If it has been part of the discussion, I am unaware due to the closed nature of the page.

It is true that the Directors-elect were advised that a conflict of interest would exist if they took seats on the Board and continued their participation on the Bruised Apples’ closed page. It is also true that they were told a shutdown of the page would resolve that conflict and allow them to their respective seats conflict-free. However, the two Directors-elect were given another option as well. Both were told in the very same conversation that opening the site and lifting veil of secrecy would also eliminate any conflict of interest.

TAAAC and the founders of the Bruised Apples share at least one common interest. That is to improve the professional and economic lives of local public educators. As the lawfully selected exclusive negotiating agent for those educators, TAAAC has both legal standing and fiduciary obligation. Logic dictates the two should be collaborating. Sadly, they are not. As undesirable as internal conflict can be, TAAAC cannot ignore a conflict of interest in its own governance.

Necessity requires that this matter is resolved, and unity is in the best interest of every educator in the school system. The page should be opened. Information would flow more freely; and conflicts of interest would not exist, or at least would not be secret.

June 24, 2016

Response to Statement on TAAAC/Board Impasse

In the Capital/Gazette yesterday, June 23, 2016, the following statement appeared:

Stacy Korbelak, school board president, said the union's requests for more compensations came too late in the budget schedule. The school system would have to pull money from other parts of the budget to pay for additional compensation, she said.

"Do you not hire teachers, not fund the next year of STEM, not pay for pre-K?" she said. "There's a finite pot of money."

She said the teachers union should have communicated these issues last summer or fall, before the superintendent presented his budget.

Ms. Korbelak, who has proven to be a thoughtful, conscientious and fair Board member in the eyes of most of us who do business with her, may not have been aware of what was happening at the bargaining table.

TAAAC leadership has been very clear on and off the bargaining table since finishing the troublesome FY2016 settlement that a step increase was the first priority. But when made, the statement was consistently followed by the caveat, “but TAAAC can’t settle for only a step increase.” It’s been a constant in any over our conversations about salaries.

More importantly, readers need to know that TAAAC did exactly what Ms. Korbelak said should be done. That is, to bring the proposal timely.

Procedures for bargaining have been in place for many years. The current version is memorialized in Article 22 of the Negotiated Agreement Between the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County. Negotiations are to be begin by the second Friday in October and no new proposals are allowed after the second session. Partially due to the FY16 Agreement not being settled until the end of September and not ratified by October 21st, the initial FY17 session did not occur until October 23rd.

In accordance with the Article 22, TAAAC made a compensation proposal on November 16th, the second session of bargaining, and one month before Dr. Arlotto’s budget presentation, and three months before the Board adopted its budget request. The November compensation proposal included one full step at the beginning of the year, a second step at mid-year, and a 3% cost of living increase.

Below, readers will find an excerpt from an update distributed by TAAAC on November 16, 2015. Members of the administration and I spoke shortly after its distribution.

Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County
11/16/15
Negotiations Update

Negotiating teams for TAAAC and the Board exchanged the first round of proposals today. Today’s proposals included:


Board
  • Modify the required notice for resignations during the school year
  • Clarify the procedure for weather related early closings to accommodate unusual circumstances
  • Eliminate the last of the three-year experience reduction for new hires
  • Eliminate automatic step increases in current contract language
  • Modify current administration of Family and Medical Leave
  • Expand the practice of department chairs conducting observations
  • Re-visit Annapolis High School Memorandum of Understanding
  • Review prescription drug co-pays
  • Examine impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

TAAAC
  • Create SLO review committees to facilitate development of fair SLO’s
  • Increase tuition payments amounts and provide same as an advance rather than a reimbursement
  • One full step increase at the beginning of fiscal year 2017 and a second step at mid-year
  • An increase across-the-board of 3%
  • Treat all Unit I employees in a consistent manner during weather related early closings
  • Waive out-of-district tuition for Unit 1 employees who reside out-of-county but register their children in the AACPS.
  • Create stipend for school social workers who earn national school social worker certification
  • Limit amount of teaching time (back-to-back classes or otherwise) without a break
  • Increase extra-instructional pay
  • Restrict teachers from teaching or supervising students more than 180 days per school year
  • Increase elementary planning time
  • Provide an opportunity for Unit I employees in challenged schools to “opt out” by volunteering to be excessed list

The proposals were made beyond that of a simple step increase should not have been a surprise to anyone, and should not be treated as such.

June 23, 2016

board adopts fy17 operating budget / terms and conditions of employment

DOWNLOAD BUDGET ADOPTION

Yesterday, in a unanimous vote of 8-0-0 the Board of Education adopted an operating budget of $1,121,630,500, a total of $36,132,800 (or 3.33%) over fiscal year 2016. The major funding category of Instructional Salaries and Wages, however, increased by only 1.94%.  Board members, or most of them, took the opportunity to compliment the “generous” budget and gave words of appreciation and gratitude to the County Executive, County Council, Superintendent, Chief Operating Officer and his team, and to the parents, teachers and other members of the public who came out to testify at the budget hearings.

If was as if every Board member forgot for a moment the nature of the agenda items to immediately follow. As “generous” as the comments indicated the budget to be, it was insufficient to settle collective bargaining agreements for three of the four represented bargaining units. Following nearly a full school year of bargaining, neither TAAAC, AEL, or SAAAAC has managed to reach an acceptable settlement with the Board. TAAAC has already requested and received a Determination of Impasse from the Public School Labor Relations Board, submitted last and best offers (see June 9 update on www.taaac.org), and agreed upon a mediator.

So, immediately following the happy vote, the next several action items consisted of votes on terms and conditions of employment for employees in Unit 1 (TAAAC), Unit 2 (AEL), Unit 4 (SAAAAC), and Units 5 and 6 (unrepresented). All passed on 8-0-0 vote counts.

Terms of conditions employment adopted for Unit 1 follow:
FY16 Agreement will be extended until a settlement occurs with these exceptions that:
 
  • No step or any other increase until a settlement is reached.
  • The Annapolis HS MOU is extended to June 30, 2017.
  •  

An inconsistency in the presentation and discussion left the Board’s intention on the matter of retroactivity ambiguous. It is an issue we have clarify and provide an appropriate update.

As far as Unit 1 employees are concerned, the budget was not particularly generous. Salary wise, it provides sufficient funds for a step-only settlement. The only other salary-related enhancement was an increase in the hourly wage for home, hospital, summer school, and evening teachers to finally move them beyond the long-standing rate of $25 per hour. Those teachers certainly deserve the increase; but so do our permanent fulltime educators that take on other extra- instructional activities. TAAAC is taking a last and best offer to mediation that similarly raises the contractual extra-instructional wage from $25 to $30 per hour. The Board rejected that proposal and is carrying their position into mediation even after granting the same raise to another group of local educators.

Above criticism notwithstanding, we should note the positive components of the budget. It includes a restoration of $20M into our healthcare fund (half of the $20M is one-time-only) and 100 new positions. Of the 100 new positions, 88.5 are classroom teachers or school-based staff members who have direct daily contact with students, including:

  • $3.2 million for 33 new teaching positions to break even with ongoing enrollment increases and 10 additional teaching positions to begin to assist in the goal to reduce growing class sizes.
  • $1.5 million to add seventh grade at the Monarch Global contract school and support AACPS’ charter schools.
  • $449,000 for six special education teachers.
  • $358,000 to add four English Language Acquisition classroom teachers and an interpreter for the International Student Services Office
  • $169,000 for three additional bilingual facilitators to provide critical assistance and support to non-English speaking families.
  • $1.2 million for 11.5 teaching positions to expand the Enhancing Elementary Excellence (Triple-E) program to the nine elementary schools in the Chesapeake and Northeast clusters.
  • $654,000 for four positions to enhance the STEM programs at Lindale and Central middle schools.

June 06, 2016

PSLRB Determines Bargaining Impasse

TAAAC received written notice on June 8, 2016, that the Public School Labor Relations Board has determined an impasse exists on thirteen of the fourteen items for which impasse was requested in the negotiations between TAAAC and the local board of Education.

In accordance with Article 22E of the Negotiated Agreement between the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County*, it is appropriate at this point to share descriptions of those items. They are provided below as last and best offers exchanged by each party. Please be reminded, these are proposals, none of which have been agreed to by both parties.

The thirteen items on which impasse has been determined include:
From TAAAC
  • Article 9C5: Increase reimbursement from $250 to $350 per semester hour.
  • Article 3F: Move employees upward by one salary step in the start of the year, and a second at midyear.
  • Article 3: Provide additional stipend of $1,000 to social workers and related service providers who attain National Certification to reflect what is provided to School Counselors for NCSC. (new provision)
  • Article 11: Require no teacher in a secondary school to teach or otherwise supervise students for more than three (3) consecutive class periods. Require no teacher in an elementary school to teach or otherwise supervise students for more than three (3) consecutive hours without a comfort break. (new provision)
  • Article 3J: Increase extra-instructional pay from $25 to $30 per hour.
  • Article 3: Increase salary by 1% across-the-board (COLA).
  • Article 11: Provide substitutes on the four early student release days for professional development to elementary classroom teachers who would otherwise lose their individual planning time.
  • Article 9: Reimburse related service providers for the cost of CEU's up to $1,500 per year to provide a similar benefit as that provided to other Unit I educators for semester hours.

From the Board:
  • Article 17: Eliminate language allowing resignations during the year with 30-day notice, and enforce the May 1st and July 15th deadlines prescribed by the Regular Teacher Contract for non-tenured and tenured teachers, respectively.
  • Article 3F: Eliminate the experience credit reduction for new hires and…at the beginning of the 20118-19 school year each newly hired Unit I member shall be placed on the salary scale at the next step above the number of years of teaching experience for which credit has been given.
  • Article 3F: Eliminate the language from the negotiated agreement that provides for an annual step increase.
  • Article 1E: Eliminate selected language regarding the process for the Board to modify the composition of the bargaining unit (Unit I).
  • Article 16B: With specified guidelines, all department chairpersons and select Student Services Teacher Specialists assigned to central office shall conduct observations of Unit 1 employees and participate in the evaluation process within the department.

Regarding the thirteen items at impasse, negotiators from TAAAC and the Board will participate in mandatory meditations, and have five days from the determination date (June 6th) to begin the process of selecting a mediator.

The fourteenth item, on which no determination of impasse was made by the PSLRB, involved a proposal presented by the Board months after the window for new proposals had closed. The Board presented the proposal in reaction to a recent Circuit Court affirmation that the topic is within the mandatory scope of negotiations. The proposal would strip Unit I employees of the right to challenge whether “cause” existed for lower level disciplinary actions (such as reprimands and written warnings) by grievance. It is a topic that has already been negotiated between TAAAC and the Board and has been in the Negotiated Agreement since 1984. TAAAC refused to re-open negotiations on the topic.

TAAAC’s negotiating team initiated a grievance on the late proposal, pursuant to Article 22C of the current Negotiated Agreement. Said grievance is scheduled for arbitration on July 28th before a mutually selected arbitrator who will render a binding decision, unless the dispute is settled beforehand.

Terms and Conditions of Employment

At its meeting on June 22nd, the Board must take two related actions each of which will require affirmative votes from at least five members. It must adopt its fiscal year 2017 budget; and it must adopt terms and conditions of employment for all six employee groups (or “units’). In that none of the four represented units have reached a settlement with the Board, those terms and conditions of employment adopted are typically no more than a temporary continuation of those current, unless and until settlements are reached.

Updates will continue as the impasse process continues.

(Note)
*Article 22E. Confidentiality of Discussions

The content of negotiations discussions shall be regarded as confidential. There shall be no public announcement or press releases on the content of negotiations discussions prior to the (1) successful conclusion of negotiations or (2) impasse being declared by the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board, unless by mutual agreement.

The above provision shall not prevent the Board team from seeking guidance from the Board and staff or the TAAAC team from seeking guidance from its members.

May 20, 2016

Negotiations Update

Some questions have been coming in to the office asking about the status of our collective bargaining efforts. For lack of a better word, it would have to be characterized as “stalled.” TAAAC submitted all documents necessary for the Public School Labor Relations Board’s determination of an impasse on May 4. The Board unavoidably required extended time to make its submission and its request for an extension was granted by the PSLRB’s Executive Director. That extension is about to expire and the PSLRB will soon have what it needs to determine the existence of an impasse.

The next meeting of the PSLRB is on June 6. It is a fair presumption that the Board’s documents will have been received and the determination will likely be made at that meeting if not before. Once the determination has been made, both parties will be under strict time limits prescribed by regulation to select a mediator and commence mandatory mediation.  

New Board Policy and Regulation

There are proposed modifications to the Board Policy and Administrative Regulations posted at the below link for public comment. If these changes are adopted, there may be some impact on classroom control and discipline in some situations.     

http://aacpsschools.org/boardpolicies/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/JK-and-JK-RA-Student-Behavior-Interventions.pdf

Please take few minutes to look over the proposed changes and comment if appropriate.

May 03, 2016

Negotiations Impasse

The negotiating teams for both parties met on April 28, 2016, and exchanged last and best offers. The requisite documents are being prepared for submission to the Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB). Barring any unforeseen delay, the documents will be hand-delivered before the close of business today.

Language pertinent to negotiations in the Article 22E of the collective bargaining agreement TAAAC shares with the Board states:

The content of negotiations discussions shall be regarded as confidential. There shall be no public announcement or press releases on the content of negotiations discussions prior to the (1) successful conclusion of negotiations or (2) impasse being declared by the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board, unless by mutual agreement.

Accordingly, the last and best offers cannot be shared in their entirety until the PSLRB determines the existence of an impasse. In outline format the issues include but are not limited to:
  • second step at mid-year
  • across the board increase (COLA)
  • planning time
  • work year
  • department heads in the rating/observation process
  • bargaining unit composition
  • experience credit

The Schuh Budget

On the morning of May 2, County Executive Schuh presented his fiscal year 2017 budget recommendation. On its face, it appeared to have some positive elements. BOE highlights include; Funding to support a step increase, an enhancement of the EEE program, and a one-time insertion of $10 million into our health care fund, enabled by a maintenance of effort waiver that will keep the one-time expenditure out of the MOE calculation for fiscal year 2018.

While the funding of a step is good news, it must be noted that it fell well short of full funding, and does not provide sufficient resources to settle our contract dispute. Attendance to the Budget Hearings on May 9 at North County High School, and May 12 at Annapolis High School is still needed. Please arrive at 6:00, wear blue, and support those TAAAC officers that will be testifying on behalf of all of us.

Some Town Hall Debunking

Mr. Schuh made an overall pretty positive presentation last Wednesday evening at Severna Park Middle School. His answers to some of the questions, however, were rife with political spin. Please look over the below outline and see where some points were spun for effect or simply wrong:

• Mr. Schuh boasted that he funded a 2% increase for school employees for FY2016. He did not. The Board requested $14.6M that would cover either a 2% COLA or a Step Increase, to be determined in individual bargaining unit negotiations. Mr. Schuh cut the request by 60%, leaving a 1% placeholder. He characterized it as 2% because it could be made effective at mid-year, thereby putting only half of it in employee pockets. Further, he cut 64 positions to do that, then washed his hands of class size problems later in the Town Hall.

• Mr. Schuh is still hanging onto the claim that teachers’ average salary in the AACPS is $65,000. Not true. We have calculated that average using real salaries paid to real AACPS teachers this fiscal year as of this past December. The average is$62,690. More telling is that the mode is a mere $50,113.

• Mr. Schuh routinely characterizes Anne Arundel county as being among the highest taxed jurisdictions in Maryland. Anne Arundel’s local 2.50% income tax is the third lowest in Maryland. It’s property tax rate is the seventh lowest in the State and below the state average. He acknowledges that the ranking is based on total tax burden, but does not share Anne Arundel’s real position when contrasted with other Maryland counties and Baltimore City. Our tax burdens are primarily generated by household income and property value. Anne Arundel has among the highest household incomes and property values in the state. Yet even according to Schuh’s total tax burden approach, Anne Arundel ranks only ninth, seven places behind Howard and Montgomery who share high household incomes and property values. Making a fair judgement, based upon taxes computed as percentages of income and property values tell a different story.

• Finally, Mr. Schuh harshly criticized the General Assembly for replacing some of the political appointees’ seats on the School Board Nominating Commission with, in his words, “special interest groups like the NAACP and Casa de Maryland, an illegal immigration advocacy group.” He further asked rhetorically; “Whose public interest do they serve?” The criticism was unfounded and the actual justification was left unsaid following the racial reference.

First, the two referenced organizations do serve the interest of a diverse public citizenry, which Anne Arundel County has. Second, Schuh left the other added seats out of is remarks. They include; a second seat for the County Council of PTA’s, a seat for the Special Education Citizen Advisory Committee, and a rotating seat for the local Chambers of Commerce. A simple contrast of the political appointees who have been selected to date will show clear reason why a change is the structure was necessary and appropriate. The political appointees so far include: Amalie Brandenburg, a Steve Schuh employee; Kemp Hammond, another Steve Schuh employee; and son of County Budget Officer John Hammond; Susannah Kipke, wife of Nic Kipke, Minority Leader of Maryland’s House and close friend of Governor Hogan; and Kam Gast, a home-schooler and wife of former vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, Chuck Gast. It will be left to the reader to judge which group should be nominating candidates to sit on a public school Board.

April 11, 2016

TAAAC is undertaking a new campaign we call RAISE ANNE ARUNDEL!

raise

RAISE ANNE ARUNDEL! Goals
  • · A county budget that addresses teacher—and student—needs
  • · County leadership that takes teachers and education seriously
  • · Strong ties with the community that supports our schools

How are we going to do this?
  • · We’re going to flood County Executive Schuh with our message.
  • · We’re going to fill two auditoriums for May County Council Budget Hearings.
  • · That success will build a solid foundation to keep fighting to fully fund our schools.

What you can do right now:

Send County Executive Schuh a message.

Go to http://bitly.com/writetoschuh

Help fill those Auditoriums on Monday, May 9 and Thursday, May 12.

Go to http://bitly.com/budgethearingrsvp

March 08, 2016
Negotiations Update

The negotiating teams for both parties met yesterday (3/7/16) for the first time since February 11, 2016. Both parties have tentatively agreed on a step increase, but TAAAC’s team has not yet secured agreement from the Board on other economic issues including the second mid-year step and a cost-of-living increase. There is much concern over what resources might remain after Mr. Schuh finishes his work on the Board’s budget request.

There are some issues related to benefits that the Board is bringing forward. They involve the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Prescription drugs, and Administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Since 2012 we have been jointly negotiating these types of benefit shared commonly by all four bargaining units with two representatives from each TAAAC, AEL, SAAAAC, and AFSCME Local 1693 in the same sessions. Those negotiations will begin next month.

Challenged School Reminder!

As most are aware by now, Unit 1 employees currently working in the schools identified below have an opportunity to leave by voluntarily “excessing.”

Brooklyn Park MS • Lindale MS • Marley MS  • Belle Grove ES
Freetown ES • Hilltop ES • Park ES • Woodside ES
North County HS • MacArthur MS • Meade Heights ES • Van Bokkelen ES
Waugh Chapel ES • Meade HS • Old Mill HS • Meade MS
Annapolis HS • Annapolis MS • Bates MS • Eastport ES
Georgetown East ES • Germantown ES • Mills-Parole ES • Tyler Heights ES

Unit 1 employees in these schools should be reminded that the close of business (5:30PM) tomorrow (3/9/16) is the deadline to get the requisite declarations (DOI’s) to the TAAAC office. They may be mailed, hand-delivered, faxed to 410-841-5117, or emailed to BJones@mseanea.org.

DOI’s may be printed from: http://www.taaaconline.org/pdf/Challenged%20School%20Declaration%20of%20Intent%20(DOI).pdf. If copying and pasting the direct link does not work, the DOI can be found at www.taaaconline.org under the “CONTRACT” tab behind the red text.

February 10, 2016

TAAAC Takes Position on School Board Nominating Bills | DOWNLOAD PDF

TAAAC Prevails in Circuit Court Decision | DOWNLOAD PDF


January 22, 2016
Retroactive Pay Update
Earlier this week, the Executive Director of Human Resources responded to a written request by TAAAC for a detailed explanation for the delay in the distribution of the retro-active salary that was part of the mediated FY2016 settlement. In nearly verbatim terms, the explanation follows:

The retro salary pay is a complicated process which involves not only retro pay adjustments, but also retro deductions, as we must submit the appropriate amount for the increase to the state retirement agency. There are numerous challenges in making this work correctly, particularly with any employee who has had any pay-related changes to their record this year. This includes many new hires who had adjustments based upon the receipt of verifications of prior employment that were sent in after the first pay date. It is also a significant challenge for any employee who has had any time in their record coded as FMLA. In the cases where the employee record has had any adjustment, it is a manual process to review.

Unfortunately, this is also the time when the same people (payroll staff and those who support the HR system) are working to ensure that the first W2’s coming out of the new payroll system are accurate. We must have accurate W-2’s out to all employees in accordance with the legal mandate. Closely trailing this mandate are those associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the required forms we have to provide employees.

Everyone realizes the desire employees have to secure these monies. We cannot, however, at this time determine when we will complete all of the processes needed to accurately provide all employees with the retro pay. Staff reviewed that adjustment may be, before taxes and before retirement system contributions. For employees in Unit I, the range is from $146.81 to $1265.80. The amount of money for many may not be as great as envisioned.

Staff will communicate the anticipated retro pay date once it has been identified.

TAAAC forwarded the response to legal counsel for guidance. More will follow as appropriate.

School Closure Scenarios

The school closure scenarios are posted HERE.

January 08, 2016
A New Proposal Concerning Observations


In contract negotiations, the Board has proposed an expansion of the use of Unit 1 employees in the observations of other Unit 1 employees. Specifically, the proposal would allow/require teacher specialists in their various subject areas to observe classroom teachers within their respective subject area for the purpose of informing the classroom teachers’ ratings.

This is a new approach that our negotiators have not seen in prior years. Training for the teacher specialists will be provided and the concern over disruption of the collegial relationships between department chairs and department members is not a factor here. Historically, TAAAC’s negotiators have been reluctant to agree to the observations of unit employees by other unit employees, and they are reluctant to agree to this as well. More input is needed.

TAAAC’s negotiators would like to hear opinions from both teacher specialists and from classroom teachers on this proposal. We negotiate again on Tuesday, January 12th.

Please send any opinions or suggestions that you have on this topic directly to BJones@mseanea.org.

January 05, 2016

Legislative Breakfast

Register for our Legislative Breakfast 1/9/16 - CLICK HERE

Budget Hearings

Please be reminded that there are two public hearings on the Superintendent’s proposed fiscal year 2017 budget this week. Both hearings begin at 6:00PM with the sign-up book being set out at 5:00PM for those who wish to give testimony. Dates and locations are indicated below.

1. Tuesday, January 5, 2016, in the Old Mill High School Auditorium. TAAAC President, Richard Benfer, will be giving testimony on behalf of the Association.

2. Thursday, January 7, 2016, in the Boardroom of the Parham Building.TAAAC Secretary Treasurer, Russell Leone, will be testifying on behalf of the Association.

The proposed budget holds quite a bit for which we can be appreciative; including funding for step increases, and funding for positions sufficient not just to stem the increase in student/teacher ratio, but to take the first step in a long time to begin to reduce it. The Budget in Brief can be reviewed (and referenced for preparing testimony) at: http://www.aacps.org/html/press/budget/17budget/2017bib.pdf

Positive budget components notwithstanding, those of you who are considering providing testimony should not shy away from mentioning some items not contained. We have had steps frozen for five-and-a-half years of the past seven, but there is no “catch-up” money requested. There is no request for any across-the-board increase nor anything for our most experienced educators at the top of the pay columns.

Please plan on attending one or both of the hearings, either to give personal testimony or to support those testifying on your behalf.

December 03, 2015

Challenged School Stipends

First Some Related History

The challenged school stipends have been in place in one form or another since FY2005, and have lasted through FY2015. From FY2005 through FY2009 funding for them was quite available. The AACPS was getting funding allocations at levels that are nearly unrecognizable in recent years. Council approved increases in the operating budget during those years ranged from a low of $32.5 million to a high of $63.9 million; sufficient to provide step increases, COLA’s, stipends for challenged schools, and compaction of the salary scale to move educators from entry level to top salary faster. Our funding levels have been much lower in recent years. “New money” from all revenue sources including county, state, and federal government was $22.44M in FY2015 and $23.66M in FY2016. Those increases are spread across fourteen major funding categories. Only one of those categories is for instructional salaries and wages.

As a result of the scarcity of fiscal resources, compensation increases have become more difficult to negotiate and much more difficult to get funded. Unit 1 employees have received merely a few nominal COLA’s (recent 2.0% being the highest) and one-and-one-half step increases in the past seven years. It is not surprising that members have spoken loudly that the first two priorities were step increase and cost of living adjustments. Using FY2016 numbers, pertinent cost factors are:

  • One salary step = $10.10 million
  • 1% across the board (COLA) = $4.25 million
  • One year of challenged school stipends = $3.36 million

Motion to Re-open Current Agreement in order to Restore Stipends

TAAAC’s governing body, the Association Representative Council, took action on a motion related to the restoration of Challenged School stipends at its regularly scheduled December meeting. If passed, a letter would have been sent by TAAAC to the Board of Education requesting to re-open the FY16 Agreement for stated purpose of restoring the Challenged School stipends. The debate was robust and the testimony emotional from both supporters and opponents.

In addition to the debate, some information regarding the cost of maintaining those stipends was shared. Notes from FY16 negotiations contain a list of 28 schools recognized as “challenged.” That is just under 23% of our 123 schools and worksites. Based upon the cost factors identified above, one year of the stipends paid to 28 schools could cover four fifths of a 1% COLA for all Unit 1 employees. Maintaining the stipends for another 3 years would cost slightly more than a step increase for every Unit 1 employee. Maintaining them for another nine years would cost significantly more than three step increases over the elapse of those years.

The motion failed by a 32/48 vote.

It was not a result that pleased anyone very much, but for obvious reasons some less than others. Resolving issues that have disparate impact on populations within the membership is difficult and unpleasant. But when disparity is already embedded in the controversy it cannot be avoided. This resolution is not satisfactory to a portion of Unit 1 employees, but it was reached in a manner as democratic and fair as possible by a vote on the floor of the ARC, TAAAC’s highest authority, a council of representatives selected by colleagues in their schools and worksites.

Grade-in Tomorrow

Please be reminded that there will be a grade-in hosted by the Annapolis schools tomorrow from 3:00 to 5:00 in the food court of Westfield Mall in Annapolis. Please feel free to join Annapolis High School and its feeders.

TAR Errata

The December TAAAC Action Report noted the date of the next Association Representative Council to be January 5. The correct date is Wednesday, January 6, at Severna Park Middle School.

November 10, 2015
Work to Rule/Important Reminder

Please accept this reminder that teachers and other educators should not be discussing the Work to Rule with students, parents, or anyone else during paid work hours. Further, any conversation with students at school or during a school-rated activity should be avoided whether on paid status or otherwise.

In situations where it is unclear whether such a conversation might be inappropriate, please err on the side of caution and do not engage.

Another Opportunity to Get Involved, from Pres. Benfer

It is time to make sure your voice is heard. Please take some time to review the various activities taking place throughout the year where you can make an impact. No contribution of time is too small. You can make a difference. With over 6,000 other member voices, the message will speak volumes to the intended audiences.

In the comment section of the sign-up, please share what actions you are willing to participate. The suggested list is as follows and is provided (below the link to sign up) for your reference after you do your sign-ups and submit. Select the letter or letters that correspond with what you are willing to do and put the letter or letters in the comment section.

Thank you for your activism, and I look forward to your very valuable input and involvement to take back our county and make educators whole again. It cannot be done without YOU! Sign-up today!

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0e4aa9ac28a6fe3-make

a. Come to a board/county council/town hall meeting.
b. Speak at a board/county council/meeting.
c. Write a letter to the superintendent/board members/county executive/county council members.
d. Write an email to the superintendent/board members/county executive/county council members.
e. Make phone calls to the superintendent/board members/county executive/county council members.
f. Participate in an organized grade-in.
g. Help TAAAC identify and provide data on why teachers are leaving.
h. Take pictures of waste and send them to us.
i. Picket job fairs that recruit educators
j. Work a polling place on Election Day.
k. Other - Please specify in comments section

Working to Rule Kit

November 09, 2015
Working to Rule

We are trying to get a clearer picture as to how many schools were working to rule or taking some organized action to express educators’ frustration and displeasure. Please send me a note back indicating the following:

  • Is your school or worksite working to rule?
  • If “yes” about what portion of staff is participating?
  • If “no” is the staff participating in some type of organized action short of a work to rule?
  • If “yes” what activities are involved and what portion of staff is participating?

Teachers as Election Judges

The Board of Elections is trying to make use of a pool of labor that is out of work on Election Day, and is making a direct request for teachers to work election sites. According to the flyer a teacher can make from $175 to $225. More information and an application can be found on the below link.

http://www.aacounty.org/Elections/ElectionJudges.cfm

November 05, 2015
Another Agreement Ratified

Yesterday, November 4th, the Board of Education ratified its second collective bargaining agreement for fiscal year 2016. This one was with the Local 1693American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the exclusive negotiating agent for Unit 3 employees. Unit 3 consists of classified employees in Operations, Maintenance, Transportation and Food Service. The agreement modified fifteen provisions of its predecessor.

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • Hourly Rates, will be modified to reflect that Unit III employees will be granted a two percent (2%) cost of living adjustment (COLA) effective July 1, 2015.
  • New Section: Fair Share/Agency Fee, will be modified for eligible employees upon receipt of evidence substantiating AFSCME’s attainment of a membership share of no less than seventy percent (70%) of Unit III employees.
  • Vacation/Annual Leave; Rate of Earning, will be modified to provide the equivalent of one (1) annual leave day to all AFSCME employees for FY16.
  • The entire settlement summary can be viewed HERE.

AACPS End of Year Fund Balance

The Board of Education closed out its fiscal year 2015 budget on October 23rd showing a $3.6M unassigned fund balance. There is a movement afloat to get some of that allocated in the current year. TAAAC President Richard Benfer is involved in those meetings support the request for its allocation and to ensure that if such money is allocated in FY2016, where it is allocated is subject to negotiations. If it is not allocated it will roll into the FY2017 operating budget as local revenue.

TAAAC’s November 4th New Business Items

#1) TAAAC’s Association Representative Council (ARC) considered a motion to join a boycott of restaurants owned partially by County Executive Steve Schuh and Councilman Derek Fink already underway. After significant debate, the motion passed. The restaurants include, Black Wall Hitch, J. King’s, and the Green Turtles in Annapolis, Crofton, and Pasadena.

#2) TAAAC’s ARC also considered a motion requesting all TAAAC representatives to return to their schools and worksites and encourage the faculties to consider working to rule or taking some other lawful job action to express our collective frustration with the persistent underfunding of local education.

It is time to make sure YOUR VOICE IS HEARD NOW and often.

Please take some time to review the various activities taking place throughout the year where you can make an impact. No contribution of time is too small. You can make a difference. With over 6,000 other member voices, the message will speak volumes to the intended audiences.

In the comment section of the sign-up, please share what actions you are willing to participate. The suggested list is as follows and is provided (below the link to sign up) for your reference after you do your sign-ups and submit. Select the letter or letters that correspond with what you are willing to do and put the letter or letters in the comment section.

Thank you for your activism, and I look forward to your very valuable input and involvement to take back our county and make educators whole again. It cannot be done without YOU! Sign-up today!

https://listserv.nea.org/t/279784/2471624/8199/0/

a. Come to a board/county council/town hall meeting.
b. Speak at a board/county council/meeting.
c. Write a letter to the superintendent/board members/county executive/county council members.
d. Write an email to the superintendent/board members/county executive/county council members.
e. Make phone calls to the superintendent/board members/county executive/county council members.
f. Participate in an organized grade-in.
g. Help TAAAC identify and provide data on why teachers are leaving.
h. Take pictures of waste and send them to us.
i. Picket job fairs that recruit educators
j. Work a polling station on election day.
k. Other - Please specify in comments section

November 02, 2015
Change in ARC Venue for November

Association Representatives, please be reminded that the venue for this Wednesday’s Association Rep Council is back to Severn River Middle School as announced in the Inside Scoop. Non-AR’s please don’t hesitate to remind your AR’s of the change, in the event Scoop was overlooked.

Dust not Settled on Fiscal Year 2016

Starting with the ratification efforts on the FY2016 TAAAC/Board Agreement, TAAAC leaders made and will continue to make the simple and factual statement about the funding for the negotiated agreement when asked. While the negotiations were underway a tentative agreement was reached between the two teams for step increase. That tentative agreement on the step was effectively quashed before negotiations were completed. This happened when the Board’s budget request for new compensation funding was cut by 60%, and there went the money to pay for the step. TAAAC leadership has been the target of some ire from the Arundel Center since those public statements were made. The statement, however, is absolutely true. Any remaining doubters can look at the budget exhibit, and confirm directly at the source. The top two expense lines show a reduction in new compensation money from 14.5M to $5.9.

The exhibit can be found HERE.

Since the October 23rd ratification Mr. Schuh’s administration, mostly through Ms. Brandenburg, his Education Director, has been espousing terms and conditions of employment teachers enjoy that employees do not have. Some assertions have been more or less accurate, some exaggerated or even fabricated. Here are some of the latter.

Not even Close to True

Speaking on the Teachers’ Pension System, Ms. Brandenburg asserts:

The tax payer contributes 93% to the TAAAC member's defined benefit plan, the TAAAC employee 7%. This upcoming year, teacher pension costs with have to be "righted". It is estimated to be between $7-8 million dollars. Again, a real cost that needs to be remedied!

Fact

Ms. Brandenburg is correct that the number of workers in defined benefit pension plans is dwindling. Although, the County does provide one and she and Mr. Schuh are participants. But for being correct on that one point, her assertion reveals that she understands nearly nothing else about her topic. Yet, she presented it as fact to her former colleagues on the Board of Education and an audience of students, parents, educators, interested, and citizens, along with televisions viewers at homes. In the words of our County Auditor (emphasis added):

  • “In her testimony on TAAAC benefits, Ms. Brandenburg said "the public taxpayers in Anne Arundel County" contribute 93% to TAAAC members' defined benefit plan, with TAAAC member employees contributing just 7%." She then says the "national defined contribution plan norm is that the company contributes 6% . . . and the employee the remaining 94%." Neither statement is remotely accurate.
  • With respect to the defined benefit plan in which TAAAC members participate, AACPS's audited financial statements show total pension contributions were 23.06% of covered payroll in FY2015. TAAAC members made 30% of the total contributions, not 7%; the taxpayers in Anne Arundel County contributed 16% of the total contributions, not 93%; and the public taxpayers of the State contributed the remaining 54%. Specifically:
  • The "taxpayers in Anne Arundel County" contributed $18,637,716, or 3.71% of payroll.
  • The taxpayers of the State (which includes, but is larger than, the population that comprises the "taxpayers in Anne Arundel County") contributed $62,085,589, or 12.35% of payroll
  • TAAAC members contributed 7% of their pay ($35,202,876), which is 88% more the amount contributed by the "taxpayers in Anne Arundel County."

For comparison purposes, the defined benefit plan in which you and I and Ms. Brandenburg and County Executive Schuh participate has more generous benefits that the plan in which TAAAC members participate. However, in our pension plan, the employee contributes only 4% of pay (17% of the total), and the public taxpayers in Anne Arundel County contribute 19.44% of payroll (83% of the total).

I don't know the source Ms. Brandenburg's data on defined contribution plans, but it cannot be accurate. While it sounds reasonable to me that the employer would contribute 6%, it cannot be accurate that the employee contributes 94%. I can only think that she doesn't understand how defined contribution plans work. Under her assertion, an employee who makes $50,000 would contribute $47,000 to their defined contribution plan, and the employer would contribute $3,000. A more likely scenario would be the employer contributes an amount equal to 6% of the employee's pay, and the employee may or may not make contributions as well.”

Ms. Brandenburg spent a few years on the Board of Education. She’s voted on budgets and collective bargaining agreements with four unions that negotiate with the BOE. Sadly, many listeners would have assumed her to be a credible speaker on the topic.

This from both County Executive and his Education Director

TAAAC has higher than the average norm for paid holidays, paid sick leave days, paid annual leave days, paid bereavement days, paid personal days etc....

Fact

Of the approximate 6,500 local educators in Unit represented only a few hundred are year ‘round 12-month employees. Those few hundred do receive paid holidays and annual leave. More than 6,000 others are 10-month employees who have salaries calculated by number of days in their duty year. Except for the FY16 calendar which has been temporarily shortened by one day, the work years generally run in length from 191, 193, 195, 200, and 210 days. Those employees do receive sick leave and bereavement leave (for which they would need to be sick or bereaved to use), along with personal business leave of two (2) days per year, three (3) for 210-day educators. Contrary to popular belief, these “10-month” employees receive no annual and no paid holidays. They work their negotiated number of days, less those for which relatively scant paid leave is approved. When holidays, election days, or even snow days close schools they just work deeper into June to complete their work obligation.

How Many Months does a 10-month teacher teach?

The following is excerpted from Mr. Schuh’s letter to an interested student. “Finally, teachers enjoy tremendous pension, health care and vacation benefits as well as a nine-month work year.

Fact

Teachers on a 191-day work year generally begin that year in mid-August and finish in mid-June. That is a 10-month year, and those who work it are identified as “10-month employees.” Educators with 193 to 210-day work years begin their work year earlier and or finish later.

October 29, 2015
Grade In - Arundel Mills Mall

Our Meade High faculty is hosting a “GRADE-IN” at the Arundel Mills Food Court tomorrow, Friday October 30, after work hours to continue grading. This will be a way to show our community how much we do #beyondthebell. Please join the group and help publicly dispel the myth of the 7-1/2 hour workday. Spread the word to colleagues who may not be on my distribution list. All may RSVP on the below link.

https://listserv.nea.org/t/278681/2471624/8158/0/

The plan is for high school teachers to be there from about 2:30-4:30 (and later if they would like). Since the middle & elementary schools get out later, they will be joining us around 4 pm to continue the grade-in.

Though the faculty is working to rule, many are being required to grade beyond paid work hours to meet the county's grade reporting deadlines. Our teachers will be tracking these extra essentially mandatory hours beyond the work week and will be positioned to initiate the appropriate grievances if necessary. I am encouraging others to do likewise.

The Capital's education reporter has been notified, so a respectable showing would be help.

October 22, 2015

New Salary Status / Bargaining Begins Again / WTR Guidance

New Salary Status

Now that both parties have ratified the Agreement for fiscal year 2015-16, it is time to implement its provisions; the first being the salary increase. The 2% increase should be apparent on the November 11 pay distribution. At the time of this correspondence we do not have a projected date for the retroactive money. In order to determine the amount of salary already earned, payroll staff needs to comb through blue sheets to distinguish salary earned from extra wages paid by blue sheets. That will take a little longer to accomplish than making the same 2% adjustment to all employees’ prospective FY16 salaries.

Bargaining Begins Again

Last night’s ratification occurred just in time to begin bargaining for fiscal year 2016-17. TAAAC’s team will have a caucus at 8:30 tomorrow morning and will be joined by the Board’s team at 9:30. As the team prepares its initial package, input from members will be very helpful. Please take a few minutes to complete our bargaining priorities survey by clicking onto the below lick, or copying and pasting same into the URL box: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Bargaining_Priorities_FY17

One of the tasks the team will accomplish tomorrow is setting a negotiating schedule. The parties will close the door on new proposals after its second or third meeting – also to be determined tomorrow. Members wanting to complete the survey should do so by the end of October.

Work to Rule Guidance

Following the discuss last night’s meeting concerning student knowledge of working to rule, or more specifically, how students knew about working to rule. We’ve requested guidance from MSEA’s Chief Legal Counsel. The text of her response is excerpted below. The entire document is POSTED HERE.

October 22, 2015
To: Bill Jones
From: Kristy K. Anderson
RE: Work to Rule

You have expressed concerns about possible disciplinary action for a teacher’s role or participation in a work to rule.

TAAAC/MSEA/NEA were created to mobilize workplace employees—to increase individual power by many acting as one. Collective actions like working to rule, appearing at board of education budget meetings, contacting county and state lawmakers, and networking with community organizations are proven to make a difference. Change, however, requires collective action through a recognized body, such as TAAAC.

Successful work to rule campaigns require commitment, communication, and courage. While TAAAC can provide specific information, here’s a basic guide on dos and don’ts:

• Adhere to the contract. Attend all required meetings, but nothing more.
• If you have not already committed to a voluntary activity, decline requests to do so by administration.
• If you have already committed to an activity verbally or by signing a contract, ask to be released from the duty. If you are not released, report to the activity.
• If you perform a certain voluntary activity year after year, without a specific agreement, immediately inform the administration before the activity begins that you will not perform the activity for that year.
• If an administrator directs you to perform an otherwise voluntary activity, perform the activity and immediately contact your union.
• Finally, and most importantly, do not engage or involve students in a work to rule action. To involve students through a simple conversation whether in the hall or during class time may be deemed disruptive to the work place and subject to disciplinary action.

As educators, time is valuable. If done correctly, collective action, like working to rule, can be a powerful tool for TAAAC’s negotiations team at the bargaining table.

Contract is Ratified

Last night, following 2 ½ to 3 hours of testimony on the topic, the members of the Board of Education unanimously ratified the FY16 Negotiated Agreement. To all educators who came out to testify whether for or against, “Thank you.” The members of the Board needed to hear the stories told.

October 21, 2015
Board to Ratify Tentative Agreement Tonight

TAAAC’s Tentative Agreement is on the agenda for Tonight’s meeting of the Board of Education. TAAAC members are asked to come to the meeting and join colleagues not to speak against the Agreement but to tell the Board and its audience individual stories of how the annual underfunding of education has impacted them, their families, and their students. The meeting begins at 7:00PM. Sign-up cards are placed outside of the boardroom at 6:00PM. Those who do not want to speak are encouraged to come and support those who do.

Please wear “TAAAC blue” or school colors.

Speakers Please Note
  1. 1. We were informed this morning that the Chair will be accepting all testimony related to the Tentative Agreement whether directly or indirectly when the agenda item is reached. So, anyone anyone speaking about their terms and conditions of employment should mark the sign-in card, Item 4.02 Ratification of Agreement.
  2. 2. Apples will not be allowed in the Boardroom. Signs explicitly prohibit food and beverages.

TAAAC Table

TAAAC will have a table just outside of the building entrance by 6:00PM with informational handouts and sign-in sheets for use in collecting members’ email addresses.

AACPS Negotiation Status

A settlement was reached between the Board and Unit 4 yesterday. Details of the settlements with Unit 3 (AFSCME, Local 1693) and Unit 4 (SAAAAC) are not yet available.

October 20, 2015
One Day to Ratification

Board to Ratify Tentative Agreement with TAAAC on October 21st

TAAAC’s Tentative Agreement is on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Education. TAAAC members are asked to come to the meeting and join colleagues not to speak against the Agreement but to tell the Board and its audience individual stories of how the annual underfunding of education has impacted them, their families, and their students. The meeting begins at 7:00PM. Sign-up cards are placed outside of the boardroom at 6:00PM. Those who do not want to speak are encouraged to come in support of those who do.

Please wear “TAAAC blue” or school colors.

Why the Impasse Process Was Required

In short, impasse occurred because the parties were unable to reach an agreement voluntarily. They were apart on: step increases, salary increases, extra- instructional pay, extra-curricular stipends, challenged school stipends, heavier involvement of department chairs in the observation process, salary continuation while awaiting disposition of disciplinary matters, resignations during the year, planning time, and number of duty days. All of these topics were remaining even after 10 months of negotiations. Neither had any flexibility left in its respective positions. A bona fide impasse existed. The parties only needed the Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB) to recognize it, and a joint submission was made to the PSLRB and the parties’ “best and last” offers were docketed. Mediation is mandatory, and the parties squeezed 24 hours of mediation into two days and the Tentative Agreement (TA) resulted. It was ratified by TAAAC’s governing body on October 7th.

The ratification was successful not because every Association Representative thought the TA provided everything local educators wanted and needed, but because the AR’s understood that it was the best deal available in light of the cuts made to the Board’s budget request by County Executive Schuh. TAAAC’s first priority was a step increase, and other items with price tags were secondary. Sadly, even using money that had been intended to fund other items, the closest settlement to a step increase was a 2% across-the-board raise. There just was not enough available after the County Executive cut the Board’s request for compensation increases by 60%.

If the Board Does not Ratify

If the motion to ratify the TA receives less than five votes from those Board members present Wednesday night we will no longer have a TA. The matter would find its way back to the PSLRB and the mediator. It is likely the Board will continue the terms and conditions of employment from FY2015 as it done so far, but there is some concern that the Board could and might impose something else.

Status of AACPS Negotiations

There are four represented bargaining units in the AACPS. They are listed below by organization name and community of interest represented:

  • Unit 1, virtually all certificated educators who are not administrators, represented by TAAAC
  • Unit 2, administrators from assistant principals up through coordinators, represented by the Association of Educational Leaders (AEL)
  • Unit 3, classified staff in food service, transportation, maintenance and operations, represented by American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFCSME), Local 1693.
  • Unit 4, secretaries, teaching assistants, permanent substitutes and other education paraprofessionals, represented by Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County (SAAAAC).

I was informed this morning that Unit 3 has reached a settlement. Details are not yet available.

October 20, 2015
Two Days to Ratification

Board to Ratify Tentative Agreement with TAAAC on October 21st

TAAAC’s Tentative Agreement is on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Education. TAAAC members are asked to come to the meeting and join colleagues not to speak against the Agreement but to tell the Board and its audience individual stories of how the annual underfunding of education has impacted you, your families, and your students. The meeting begins at 7:00PM. Sign-up cards are placed outside of the boardroom at 6:00PM. Those who do not want to speak are encouraged to come in support of those who do.

Please wear “TAAAC blue” or school colors.

Why the Impasse Process Was Required

In short, impasse occurred because the parties were unable to reach an agreement voluntarily. They were apart on: step increases, salary increases, extra- instructional pay, extra-curricular stipends, challenged school stipends, heavier involvement of department chairs in the observation process, salary continuation while awaiting disposition of disciplinary matters, resignations during the year, planning time, and number of duty days. All of these topics were remaining even after 10 months of negotiations. Neither had any flexibility left in its respective positions. A bona fide impasse existed. The parties only needed the Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB) to recognize it, and a joint submission was made to the PSLRB and the parties’ “best and last” offers were docketed. Mediation has been mandatory since 2011, and the parties squeezed 24 hours of mediation into two days and the Tentative Agreement (TA) resulted. It was ratified by TAAAC’s governing body on October 7th.

The ratification was successful not because every voting Association Representative thought the TA provided everything local educators wanted and needed, but because the AR’s understood that it was the best deal available in view of the cuts made to the Board’s budget request by County Executive Schuh. TAAAC’s first priority was a step increase, and other items with price tags became secondary. Sadly, even using money that had been intended to fund other items, the closest settlement to a step increase was the 2% across-the-board raise. There just was not enough available after the County Executive cut the Board’s request for compensation increases by 60%.

If the Board Does not Ratify

If the motion to ratify the TA receives less than five votes from those Board members present on Wednesday night we will no longer have a TA. The matter would find its way back to the PSLRB and the mediator. It is likely the Board will continue the terms and conditions of employment from FY2015 as it done so far, but there is some concern that the Board could and might impose something else.

Status of AACPS Negotiations

There are four represented bargaining units in the AACPS. They are listed below by organization name and community of interest represented:

  • Unit 1, virtually all certificated educators who are not administrators, represented by TAAAC
  • Unit 2, administrators from assistant principals up through coordinators, represented by the Association of Educational Leaders (AEL)
  • Unit 3, classified staff in food service, transportation, maintenance and operations, represented by American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFCSME), Local 1693.
  • Unit 4, secretaries, teaching assistants, permanent substitutes and other education paraprofessionals, represented by Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County (SAAAAC).

As of the close of last week, only TAAAC’s has announced a Tentative Agreement.

October 13, 2015
Volunteers Sought

TAAAC is seeking volunteers to participate in an Action Task Force. The intent of the Action Task Force is to create and develop means and activities for member participation aimed to stem the persistently inadequate annual funding for public education and public educators. To build the Task Force we need a pool of interested members from which we can select participants that reflect the various segments of the bargaining unit.

The Task Force will be provided with staff and governance assistance, a meeting venue, and a budget. It will determine its own meeting schedule once its first meeting occurs.

Members interested in entering the pool should email BJones@mseanea.org with the following information:
  • Name
  • School or Worksite
  • Work phone
  • Grade level, Subject area, or Special area
  • Personal email
  • Mobile phone (or Home phone if no mobile)
  • Brief description of past activism (optional)

Please act promptly if interested. TAAAC’s Board of Directors will meet on October 28th. The Superintendent will be making his budget proposal to the Board on December 16th. The Task Force will need to start its work very soon.

October 12, 2015

The FY2016 Tentative Agreement between the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County was ratified by TAAAC's Association Representative Council last Wednesday evening. Among the provisions of the Agreement was a reduction of one duty day from the FY2016 Unit 1 work year. Following the ratification vote, the Board announced that the day to be reduced from the workyear calendar is this coming Friday, October 16th. The announcement was delivered by memorandum to AACPS Senior Staff and Principals from Florence Bozzella, Executive Director of Human Resources on October 9th. The text of the memorandum is excerpted below:

As a result of FYl6 negotiations, all Unit I employees and 191-day Unit IV employees will enjoy a one-day reduction in the number of duty days for SY20l5-2016. Please be advised that Friday, October 16, 2015, has been selected as the non-work day for designated staff (all Unit I and 191-day Unit IV employees only).

Those employees should not report for duty. All professional development trainings scheduled for this day are cancelled.

Employees must indicate 'NR" (Negotiated Reduction) on the time sheet to indicate the reason for their absence.

Please share this information with the appropriate employees as soon as possible. Any further reduction to the work year for other AACPS employees is subject to negotiations.

Other negotiated terms and conditions of employment to take effect in FY2016 will be dependent upon successful ratification by the Board at it October 21st meeting.

Negotiators for TAAAC and the Board are scheduled to meet on October 23rd to begin talks for FY2017. Please take the time to respond to the bargaining survey arriving in members' email inboxes soon.

October 06, 2015
E-Balloting

The electronic balloting on the tentative agreement has been re-opened and will remain open until 8:00 pm tonight. The school by school results will be available to Association Representatives (AR's) for the voting tomorrow evening. CLICK HERE.

In the meantime, we need school-based AR’s to get a sense of member sentiment for accepting/rejecting the tentative agreement. To do so, AR’s may hold their own school-based ballot, a 5 or 10-minute meeting, or simply speak with colleagues. The intent is for AR's to be familiar enough with members to assess whether the results of the county wide survey are consistent with members' sentiment. Be reminded once again that results of both the countywide survey and any balloting/surveying that occurs in the schools are advisory only. Decision-making authority lies with the Association Representative Council tomorrow evening.

october 05, 2015
Close of Balloting

The straw balloting intended to inform the Association Representative Council's in its vote to accept or reject the tentative agreement will close tonight at 7:00PM. To those who have not voted yet, CLICK HERE.

Please be reminded that the binding vote must be cast in person by credentialed Association Representatives from AACPS schools and worksites at the October 7th Association Representative Council.

September 28, 2015
TAAAC/Board FY16 Tentative Settlement / FAQ’s

Please find enclosed the FAQ’s as promised. Some questions have been grouped together for reasons that will be obvious upon reading. With rare exception, questions were copied and pasted in the form received.

Will TAAAC release a statement of their position on the tentative settlement?

Answer #1)
The Tentative Agreement (TA) currently before Unit I employees needs to be put in perspective before any position can be articulated. Up until County Executive Steve Schuh presented his budget, TAAAC and the Board had a TA on a step increase. TAAAC was holding out for a modest COLA applied only to the top steps on each column. The County Executive’s operating budget chopped the COLA and funded on a 1% across the board increase for all school system employees. The County Council moved some funding from the major funding category of “fixed charges” to appropriate categories from which the equivalent of a half-step for all school employees could be allocated. Since we do not have half-steps in our salary matrices, the Board used the funding to provide a 1.25% increase, reconciled its budget accordingly, and offered the 1.25% to all four represented bargaining units.

TAAAC rejected the 1.25% and continued to argue in favor of a much needed step increase until it became clear that an impasse existed on salary and a few other items. It is likely that the single most important item had nothing to do with FY15. (Among the Board’s last and best offers was a proposal to eliminate from the Agreement standing language that provides an annual step. If that proposal survived the impasse process, the Board would no longer have any obligation to even request funding for a step, much less to provide one.) The requisite forms were jointly prepared and submitted to the Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB) and the impasse was declared. Mediation, mandatory by law, was the next step.

After the equivalent of three days of mediation with a professional mediator, the parties continued to get closer in their positions. As the process moved along it became clear to the TAAAC team that a step increase was not likely, even if we chose to roll the dice with the PSLRB. However, the team did manage to retain the language requiring an annual step, improve to salary offer by 60% (from 1.25 % to 2.00%), and keep the money lost from the challenge school stipends in the pockets of Unit I educators.

The TAAAC team is confident that it made the most out of what was available. Our position (that is, the position of the TAAAC Negotiating Team) is that educators should vote “yes.” For reasons you will see below, rejecting this TA is likely to be more detriment than benefit.

If we vote to ratify, we are agreeing to a 2 percent increase in lieu of an actual step for the following fiscal year (so, a couple hundred bucks vs. a couple thousand)? Instead of the 72k I would be making if we kept negotiating for steps, I will be agreeing to 64k?

Thanks for all your work on our behalf. I was wondering if we're getting a "step" or just an increase in salary for either this year or next. I am a bit confused about that.

Answer #2)
We reached a mutual agreement of a 2% increase because based on the budget figures presented by both parties (TAAAC paid for analysis of its own) we could not prevail in the argument of affordability. We did manage to increase the Board’s expenditure on the salary scales by approximately $4 million, still not sufficient to pay for a step. In that 19 of the 25 steps on our teachers’ scales are 2% apart, most of our members will receive the dollar-amount equivalent of a step.

The online ballot is a straw ballot correct?

Answer #3)
That is correct. The Association Representative Council is TAAAC’s governing body and its ratifying authority.

I have 12 years of teaching experience and I am nowhere near that in steps. It is disheartening that even as the economy begins to get better, teacher pay continues to be at an all-time low.

Answer #4
We no longer have an economic problem in Anne Arundel County. We have a political problem. Mr. Schuh has run a campaign based on cost cutting. He’s chosen to cut the tax rate and pledged to cut a tax or a fee in each year of his first term. Personnel costs are well over 80% of the AACPS operating budget. Costing cutting at this level of priority has impacted and will continue to impact our terms and conditions of employment.

In regard to the new agreement, does this mean we are only get a 2% COLA and not a step increase? Everyone is wondering this as it does not clearly state it.

Thanks for all your work on our behalf. I was wondering, are we getting a "step" or just an increase in salary for either this year or next? I am a bit confused about that.

Answer #5)
That is correct. There is a 2% COLA but no step. It is explicitly stated halfway down the front page of the settlement summary. I should make it a point to acknowledge the frustration with less than satisfactory settlements. The members of the negotiating team struggle with it as well.

I think our teachers deserve a step increase! Anything less is an insult to the dedication hard work we put in. This should have never been sent out to vote. Should be step or nothing!

Answer #6)
When it comes to teachers deserving a step increase, we are in complete agreement. There is no single person on TAAAC’s team that would dispute the fairness or the need. It is unlikely that anyone on the team would agree that the TA should not have been put out to a vote. When negotiating teams reach what they believe to be the best available settlement, they are obliged to ensure members get opportunity review it, then accept or reject it. This TA does not have everything in it that we wanted, but it is an improvement over FY15 and an even more significant improvement over the Board’s best and last offer for FY16. Yes, educators deserve much more than they’ve been getting, but TAAAC is not one that withholds from them. If TAAAC behaved as you suggest, it would be doing exactly that.

Is it true that if we don't ratify the contract then the BOE sets the terms of the contract? If it is there's no wonder the BOE fights us every step of the way. It's a win-win for them and lose-lose for teachers. Please let me know.

Could you be sure to include the consequences of a NO vote? I spoke with many teachers over the weekend and there seems to be a lot of confusion on that topic. My understanding was that if teachers did not ratify the tentative agreement, then the matter would be sent to the State Labor Relations Board. They would then choose one of three options: the BOE's best-and-final offer, TAAAC's best-and-final offer, or the agreement created by the mediator. If that is correct, is there any reason TAAAC members should not be allowed to see both the BOE and TAAAC's BAFOs?

What happens if teachers don't "accept" the negotiated agreement? How many -- or what percent of -- teacher votes causes it not to "be accepted". Who is the "other side", and when will we know if they accept it.

In the event of a "No" vote, what are the next steps in the process?

Answer #7)
We will know it TAAAC accepts or rejects to the TA by the close of its October 7 Association Representative Council. If TAAAC’s ARC rejects this TA, the Board (other party to the TA) will have no reason to act on it, provided it has not done so before October 7th. If TAAAC rejects the TA, one of two outcomes is likely:

The Board could continue the FY15 terms and conditions of employment as modified on this past June 17. Or, the Board could impose its last and best offer that was submitted to the PSLRB. The latter would reduce the COLA to 1.25%. There would still be no step, and the language providing the automatic annual step would be stripped from the contract.

There might be some recourse with the PSLRB but it is not explicit in the statute that created it. The three choices referenced in the question above were apparently developed with an assumption that the PSLRB would make one of those choices when mediation failed and the mediator had to write a report, but without anticipation that a mediated agreement might be rejected by constituencies. The statute does not speak to our situation; where when a mediated agreement results, therefore there is no mediator’s report, and a Tentative Agreement might face rejection.

Guidance from our attorney indicates that there may be able to get the PSLRB in the absence of explicit language in statute, but it is doubtful that recourse would come quickly, and more doubtful that the economic package would be improved since determination would be based it on the same budget figures used in mediation. The PSLRB is still bound to Section 6-408(14) which would require any decision of the PSLRB to conform to other portions of the Education Article that concern the fiscal relationship between the Board and the Council.

Does the settlement mean that those of us working in Title I schools will receive no extra compensation for working in these very difficult situations?

The settlement summary explains that challenge schools will no longer receive a stipend. A 2% increase in my salary does not equal the amount of the stipend so I will be making less money this year. I expected better negotiating from TAAC and I'm extremely disappointed in my union!

Answer #8)
Yes, the stipends are gone at least until/unless some other incentive is negotiated. The stipends took much discussion time from both parties. It appeared clear that they were going to be terminated or at least modified. The Board wanted the available funds for other priorities. TAAAC’s effort was to keep the money in the area of compensation and would agree only if recovered funds were put on the salary scales. There, it would benefit everyone in the unit and be captured in the calculation of retirement benefits.

We already received 1%. This is a slap on the face. My school will reject it!

Answer #9)
Unit I employees haven’t actually received anything yet. We had a tentative agreement on a step increase early in negotiations. The Board added enough to the Superintendent’s proposed budget to fund it. When the budget got to County Executive Schuh, he cut it in its entirety. With help from the County Council, enough funding was added to the appropriate categories (primarily Instructional Salaries and Wages) to fund the equivalent of a half-step. That half-step became a 1.25% increase that the Board put in its final budget in June, and offered it to all four unions. TAAAC rejected the offer and eventually went to impasse. The 1.25% has not yet been applied to paychecks, and this TA increases it to 2.0% - a 60% improvement. The Board has been continuing FY15 terms and conditions of employment. Dependent upon ratification a 2% will be applied retroactively to the beginning of the fiscal year.

I am very sure you would make more with a step increase than the 2%.

Answer #10)
Of the 25 steps on our salary scale, 19 of them are 2% apart. In dollar amounts, most of our members are receiving the equivalent of a step.

Would it be possible to edit the Survey Monkey for people to mention what, specifically, they disagree with in the tentative agreement? This would help direct negotiators' actions more appropriately for the people they represent and hopefully create a more content workforce in the long run.

Answer #11)
I believe I am hearing from people now. Rather than modify the Survey Monkey, let me use this FAQ to invite every TAAAC member reading to send me recommendations, suggestions, etc., for use in the FY17 negotiations directly to me.

No steps again? None scheduled to make up from past years? Have steps been eliminated from AACPS budgets? If I'm reading it correctly, there is no step increase, correct? Is the rumor that steps are going to be going away true?

Answer #12)
You are correct in that there is no step increase with the TA. However, there is no provision in this TA that takes away steps permanently. The proposal that might have led to that was in the Board’s last and best offer to the PSLRB. It would have eliminated the language that provides an automatic step. That proposal did not survive the mediation.

Good afternoon, the tentative agreement mentioned that new hires will have 2 years of out of county experience taken away from them instead of three. Will this be retroactive for current employees who had 3 years of out of county experience taken away from them (meaning they would be eligible for a step increase)?

Answer #13)
Sadly, it is not retroactive for the relatively new employees hired within the past five years. Nor is it retroactive for the educators who have been in the AACPS for any number of years and who lost steps in FY10, FY11, FY12, and FY13.

Do they realize what they're communicating to us when they deny us a step increase? It feels very disrespectful when they seem not to value the good work we have done. Finally, is there anything else that we can do as teachers? Can we still "work to rule" if we accept this agreement?

Answer #14)
What teachers and the other educators can do more is to take part in your unionism . TAAAC leadership regularly asks members to come out for hearings on the budget, to give some testimony as to their own challenges in the classroom or office, to participate in post card drives, make a telephone contact to a councilman, and other similar activities. These are relatively easy things that members can do that will serve to remind in public office that it’s more than just Bill Jones, Richard Benfer, and a few volunteers that they do business with. It is 5,800 well educated and conscientious professionals. The word "collective" is conspicuous in the term "collective bargaining." When you select a lawful exclusive bargaining organization and join that bargaining organization, you're not simply contracting for a couple of spokespersons. The influence of the organization does not lie with those spokespersons. It lies in the size of its membership and the willingness of that membership to act when asked.

And yes, we can work to rule with or without a TA. Working to rule simply means that we’ll be working in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment that both parties have agreed upon. TAAAC leadership has not requested a work to rule. The anticipation was that mediation would be successful.

Why is it that the 2016 number and the first number on the subsequent step match at some levels but not at others?


Answer #15)
The steps are 2% apart on 19 of the 25 steps. So, a 2% across the Board increase will generate the same salary increase as a step. The pattern is not exactly consistent because it is skewed on the steps that that are farther than 2% apart.

Per the email I received this afternoon for the vote for tentative agreement, it states that it is FY16; does this mean that the salary increase will not go into effect until next school year or in January of 2016?

Answer #16)
Fiscal year 2016 began on July 1, 2015. The TA including its salary increase will be retroactive back to July 1. Twelve month educators will begin the new salary from their first payday in July. Ten-month educators will begin their new salary rate from their first pay day in September.

Could you please provide explanation of the Joint Subcommittee for Salary Inequities? If the language is changing for reducing the reduction of years from new hires, could it be deduced that our salaries will return to being based on experience incrementally over the next few years?

Answer #17)
Both parties to the Agreement knew that when the scales were restructured and initial placements were made by salary there would be some inequity in the results. In some instances there are educators with five, six, or more years of experience than colleagues on the same salary step. Both parties also knew that is was unavoidable if we were to restructure the scale. Both parties also knew that the restructuring was necessary, because a step increase on the old scale had become unaffordable. TAAAC’s interest then and now is to locate and address the most serious inequities. The Joint Committee was formed to accomplish that objective. We have found that there is not much agreement between the parties as to what constitutes a serious inequity. We are going to make another attempt in FY17.

What's the difference between the steps and a 2%?

Answer #16)
In total cost, an approximate one-and-a-half million.

I have 18 years of teaching, but I know that I am not at that step. How are we supposed to know exactly what step/scale to look at?

Answer #17)
If you are full time and working a full year, look at your biweekly gross pay and multiply it by 26. The result should be a salary amount that you will be able to locate on the salary exhibits in one of the appropriate FY15 columns.

Just to clarify, we are to ratify this contract if we are in favor of the increase in salary. Is this correct?

Answer #18)
If you vote “yes”, you are voting to keep a number of improvements that appear the settlement summary including the 2% COLA. If you vote “yes” would also be voting against a lesser increase and against the prospect of having the long-standing provision requiring an annual step increase eliminated from the Negotiated Agreement.

September 26, 2015
Tentative Agreement / FAQ's

There have been many questions coming into the TAAAC regarding the tentative settlement. They can be most efficiently answered in group fashion, so there will be an FAQ document forwarded via this distribution list on Monday. The same document will be posted on the TAAAC website shortly thereafter.

Questions that are not answered in the FAQ document will be answered either individually or edited into a revised FAQ as appropriate.

It would be appropriate for those who have questions or concerns to withhold their voting until explanations are available.

September 24, 2015

By now most of you are aware that the fiscal year 2106 Negotiated Agreement was tentatively settled late Monday (September 21) evening, following 11 months and one day of effort, a declaration of impasse, and two long days of assistance by a professional mediator. Part of Monday's settlement was a confidentiality provision requiring that neither party put out a release until both parties agreed on the content of a joint release. That joint release was publicly distributed yesterday.

Details of the settlement will be coming out electronically to all Unit 1 employees within the next couple days in the form of a comprehensive settlement summary. In the email there will be a link to allow Unit 1 employees an opportunity to cast a ballot as whether to accept or reject the settlement. The results of that balloting will inform the Association Representative Council when they consider the accept/reject question on the evening of October 7.

It would not be appropriate to dole out the details in small pieces. So, I am asking that you hold your questions until the summary is distributed. It is our intent to have the summary in your email boxes by close of business on Friday - sooner if possible.

August 25, 2015
Negotiations Update

Finally, some progress…

TAAAC and the Board are now scheduled for mediation sessions to be held on September 21st and September 22nd, with a portion of September 24th on hold in the event that more time is needed. The scheduled sessions signal the beginning of the end of the impasse. In the meantime, be reminded of what our employer’s proposals at impasse mean to local public school educators. Among others, these proposals stand out:

  • Another year with no step increases.
  • Elimination of long standing language that for decades has required the Board to at least request funding for employee step increases. If they prevail the Board would have unilateral discretion whether to even ask for money for employee steps.
  • Rejection of TAAAC proposals intended to provide more teacher directed work to meet growing work load demands.


There have been good reasons for TAAAC negotiators’ reluctance to settle. A voluntary settlement under these circumstances would be in the disinterest of local educators. With the impasse resolution process about to be underway, it is a fair assumption that terms and conditions of employment for fiscal year 2016 will soon be determined. Whether that determination results from a mediated agreement or an imposed disposition is yet to be determined.

Considering what the employer proposes to take away, local educators may want to make thoughtful decisions about volunteering away personal and family time above what’s required.

August 19, 2015
Impasse

There has been little progress to report. Nevertheless, an update is appropriate if for no other reason than to clearly explain the current situation. An outline follows. Some of the news will not be new.

1) Impasse was declared near the close of July.

2) The parties had 5 days to select a mediator (as defined in regulation*), 10 days to submit last and best offer to the PSLRB, and 14 days to commence mediation (as defined in regulation**).

3) The parties have met all the time lines even though there has not yet been a mediation session.

4) Negotiators for both parties have a conference call scheduled with the mediator at 11:00am on the morning of August 21st. Opportunities for mediation sessions include eight dates in September and two in October. The TAAAC team is willing to meet on any of those dates.

5) As a final note, there is no guarantee that mediation will result in a mutual agreement. If it is unsuccessful, the PSLRB will impose one of three choices: TAAAC’s last and best offer, Board’s last and best offer, or an award drafted by the mediator.

(*) select a mediator is defined as beginning the selection process. (**) commence mediation is defined as having selected a mediator and the mediator having agreed to serve.

Celebrate Educators

Be reminded to join the Celebrate Educators event coming this Friday (August 21) from 11:00 AM to 3:00 at Sandy Point State Park. Food, beverages, games, and prizes are provided. Members are welcome even not preregistered. While there's no cost for the event, the park does charge a per car fee. Plan on car pooling, and make certain to mention you're a TAAAC member going the TAAAC event. Our fee is reduced to $3.00 per car which will be charged directly to TAAAC. There is no cost to members or guests.

Welcome back,

Bill

July 15, 2015
Impasse Declared in Anne Arundel County Teacher Negotiations

Pursuant to the request filed by theTeachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County, the Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB) has determined from the facts that an impasse has been reached in negotiations between the two parties.

This determination was made by the PSLRB on July 14, 2015, and been reached as to the following matters in dispute:

  • Cost of living adjustment
  • Experience step increase
  • Stipend for assignment to “challenged” schools
  • Increase in hourly pay (workshop and extra-instructional)
  • Longevity lanes on extra-curricular salary scale
  • Recognition of experience credit for newly hired teachers
  • Experience recognized by step increase at the beginning of each year
  • Resignation during the school year with 30-day’s notice
  • Number of duty days in the work year
  • Maintaining salary status during due process appeals


In accordance with Maryland statute, the parties must begin to select a mediator in five calendar days, commence mediation in fourteen calendar days, and submit ”last and best” offers to the PSLRB in ten calendar days.

This impasse occurred following sixteen sessions of negotiations held between October and July failed to produce a tentative agreement.

July 13, 2015
Impasse Documents Filed

At the close of last week, a joint request for a declaration of impasse was finalized by negotiaitors for TAAAC and the Board of Education and submitted to the Public School Labor Relations Board. In that it is a joint request, there should be little doubt that the PSLRB will acknowledge the existence of a legitimate impasse.

Once the declaration is made, TAAAC and the BOE will have five calendar days to select a mediator and ten calendar days to submit “last and best” offers as prescribed in the regulations.

The impasse items include the following:
Salary

TAAAC proposes one full step increase and a one-time 1% increase on the top step of each column. The BOE proposes no step increases and a 1.25% COLA.

Extra-Curricular Contracts

TAAAC proposes the addition of another seniority column for contract holders with 15 or more years in the activity. The BOE rejects the proposal.

Experience Credit

The BOE proposes the elimination of the current three-year reduction in experience credit for new hires and the deletion of the contract language that provides an annual step increase for eligible current employees. TAAAC’s position is that new hires can make up lost experience as current employees recover lost steps of their own, and rejects the elimination of the three year reduction. TAAAC also rejects the elimination of the contract provision that provides an annual step.

Extra-Instructional Pay

Although a tentative agreement had been reached that would have increased increase extra-instructional pay to, …no less than $30/hour, TAAAC withdrew its agreement following the County Executive’s budget reductions. TAAAC proposes to utilize the funding intended for extra-instructional pay to restore the reduced funding for salaries. The BOE proposes to go through with the extra-instructional increase rather than restoring cuts to salaries.

Challenged School Assignment Stipend

The BOE seeks to eliminate the $2,000 stipend for Unit 1 personnel assigned to “challenged” schools, but is not putting the savings into salaries. TAAAC rejects the elimination of the stipend unless the savings are used for Unit 1 salaries.

Resignation and Contract Renewal

The BOE seeks to replace the language that allows Unit personnel to resign during the year with 30-day’s notice with language that would require notice of 45 days prior to the end of the first semester. TAAAC rejects the change.

Length of Work Year

TAAAC proposes to reduce the work year by two duty days with no commensurate reduction in salary. The BOE rejects the reduction.

Unit 1 Member Rights, Privileges, and Responsibilities

Currently, Unit 1 personnel who appeal recommendations of suspension or dismissal remain on full salary status for 120 days*. The BOE proposes to reduce the paid time to 90 days. TAAAC rejects the proposal.

More will follow as the impasse process continues.

Note: (*) Duration of salaried status can last even longer than 120 days as long as delays in the process are not the fault of the appellant.

June 18, 2015

Yesterday, June 17, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education adopted terms and conditions of employment for the bargaining units that have not yet reached a satisfactory settlement. Translated, that means that the Board adopted terms and conditions of employment for all of its bargaining units. None have been able to reach an agreement.

With few exceptions, the Board continued the current terms and conditions of employment as prescribed in the current FY15 Negotiated Agreement into the coming fiscal year. In summary form, the modifications to current terms and conditions of employment are outlined below. Please be reminded that the parties are still in the process of negotiations and should soon be provided with the assistance of a mediator, the first step in the codified impasse process. Only the modifications are listed. All other negotiated terms and conditions of employment from FY15 continue into FY16 until negotiations are concluded.

Article 3 – Salary and Other Compensation

No step or longevity salary increases were adopted. (To emphasize by repetition, this topic is still under discussion.)

Article 11 Work Time and Work Load

All non-teaching department chairpersons and department chairpersons who conduct observations shall work a 195-day work year with their annual salary adjusted commensurately and shall be provided the option of working one (1) additional workday before or after the 195-day work year. The use of the day beyond the 195-day work year shall be based on school need as determined and approved by the principal. Pay for the additional day shall be at the per diem rate. All other department chairpersons unless otherwise noted and media specialists shall work a 193-day work year with their annual salary adjusted commensurately and shall be provided the option of working up to three (3) working days before or after the 193-day work year. The use of these days beyond the 193-day work year shall be based on school need as determined and approved by the principal. Pay for the three (3) days shall be at the per diem rate.

All pupil personnel workers and professional school psychologists will work a 12-month schedule.

All high school counselors will work a 12-month schedule.

Article 16 Evaluation and Rating of Professional Staff

All non-teaching department chairpersons shall conduct observations of teachers and participate in the evaluation process within the department.

Other department chairpersons may continue to conduct observations of teachers and participate in the evaluation process within the department in accordance with current guidelines requiring an affirmative vote of 2/3rds of the department. The process of conducting the balloting was clarified. Voting shall occur by a secret ballot to be conducted by the principal and the chair of the Faculty Advisory Council, and the department chair may cast a ballot as a member of the department.

The Annapolis High School Memorandum of Understanding

The Annapolis High School Memorandum of Understanding was extended for 2015-2016 school year with the following modifications:

  • Current 12-month positions will remain 12-month positions.
  • The 200-day work year for 10-month employees will be reduced to 195 days.
  • The per diem rate for extra-instructional pay will continue, but other incentives do not. (Note: The $2,000 assignment component of the challenged school stipend is one of the topics going to impasse.)

The School Test Coordinator Memorandum of Understanding

The School Test Coordinator Memorandum of Understanding of 2010, which provided STC’s with 9 additional work days and flexibility in the scheduling of those days was extended for the 2015-2016 school year.

TAAAC and the Board continue to negotiate the terms of the FY16 Negotiated Agreement that will include compensation enhancement as well as other provisions.

The exhibit utilized in the Board’s discussion may be viewed at http://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/aacps/Board.nsf/Public.

June 09, 2015
Impasse

Negotiations between TAAAC and the Board did not produce a tentative agreement on Friday, June 5th. There is one proposal pending for which TAAAC is awaiting a Board response. If the response is satisfactory to the team, there will be one or two less items in the impasse packet. A declaration of impasse will still be sought and almost certainly granted. As of Friday’s session, impasse is no longer a probability. It is a certainty. We expect a response on the pending issue shortly after the June 17th BOE meeting, when it will have its first opportunity to consider it. It regards the restoration of 12-month schedules for 210-day employees and department chairpersons conducting observations.

The items destined for impasse regard the following:
  • Granting additional experience credit to new hires
  • Annual nature of step increases
  • Salary
  • Procedures for resignation
  • Elementary planning time
  • Number of days in the work year
  • Procedures for suspending or dismissing a certificated educator
  • Department chairs conducting observation
  • Restoration of pupil services persons to their former 12-month status
  • Extra-curricular stipends



The County Council will strike its budget on June 12th and the BOE will have to reconcile its budget on June 17th. In that same meeting, the BOE will adopt terms and conditions of employment for bargaining units, including ours, that have failed to reach a tentative agreement. If the BOE unilaterally imposes new and different terms and conditions of employment before there is a declaration of impasse, TAAAC will file the appropriate unfair labor practice complaint to the Public School Labor Relations Board.

TAAAC's Board of Directors meets tomorrow evening, and may be asking members for some organized action during the impasse. The BOE has apparently decided to simply TAKE whatever it could not buy or fairly negotiate. We should not sit by silently.

To Tienet Users: The following email was forwarded to the TAAAC regarding duties for special educators without mention of compensation:

As we begin our closeout of the 2013-14 school year, you are urged to review your annual and triennial due dates for compliance. Please make necessary arrangements to wrap up all remaining IEP meetings during these final weeks while 10-month staff is still available. Make sure that all students have current IEP’s to begin the next school year.

AACPS has a responsibility to provide FAPE for all students. Therefore, timelines do not stop at the end of the contracted school year. Remember that the special education process, for any student, must be completed within timeline. If a parent requests testing during these final weeks of school, the team may not postpone the process until the following school year; an IEP A must be scheduled as soon as possible. The timeline for the IEP A process begins with that parent request.

Due to current budgetary restrictions, the option of central office support or the hiring of school-based staff during the summer months may not be supported. In the event meetings must be held beyond the contracted school year, arrangements must be made at the building level for staff to attend. Meetings cannot be postponed or delayed due to summer staffing issues. All federal timeline requirements must be met.

While there is no dispute that federal guidelines must be met, the obligation belongs to your employer, the AACPS, not to any individual employee. It certainly does not relieve the employer from paying the employee for the work done. Further, any 10-month employee who is required to come into work on a non-duty day should expect to be paid at an hourly rate appropriate to annual salary. Here is how our collective bargaining agreement approaches the topic.

Article 3T. Compensation for Summer Hearings/Court Cases

10-month Unit I members who are required at the request of the school system to serve as witnesses at school related Special Education hearings or school related court cases between the end of one ten (10) month work year and the beginning of another will be paid an hourly rate computed from the Unit I member’s actual per diem rate in effect at the time of the hearing or court case with a minimum of three (3) hours applied. Unit I Members shall be reimbursed at the rate included in this negotiated agreement for authorized travel relating to their attendance at such hearing(s) or court case(s).

Even though an IEP may not constitute a “hearing” the same approach should be demanded by 10-month employees who are required to come in and provide services to the employer on non-duty days. There is even some question as to whether you can be required to come in on non-duty days. If/When that happens and there are questions, please contact the TAAAC office for guidance.

May 12, 2015
Emails

Thank you” to all who took a few minutes to email the County Executive and Council Members. To date, you generated 3,912 messages. The content in those messages was directed to the County Executive, who had the budget in his hands until May 1st. It is now in the hands of the members of the County Council, and it is time to reach out with messages directed to their attention. You can do just as easily as before.

Click Here. Fill out the contact information on the first page and hit Submit. There is a new default message waiting. You can replace it with your own message (preferred) or use the default and hit Submit again.

Hearing Reminder!

Not everyone is comfortable giving testimony. Almost everyone is okay with holding a sign. Join us and be seen supporting Anne Arundel County’s public school system.

Anne Arundel County Public Hearing on the Budget

Monday, May 11, 7:00PM
Annapolis High School
Annapolis High School
Annapolis High School
(location emphasized)

Please arrive by 6:30 and carry a sign (we’ll have plenty) for 30 minutes in support of our profession.

Negotiations

Negotiations are scheduled for a full day tomorrow, May 12. An update will follow within a business day. Whatever happens tomorrow, none of it will be finished until after the Council adopts its FY2016 Budget and it is reconciled by the Board. A good showing tonight will have an impact.

May 7, 2015
Update/ Errata

Schuh Budget vs Board Request

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education was provided with a review of the impact the County’s operating budget proposed by County Executive Steve Schuh would have on our school system by its Chief Operating Officer. Very briefly, the Board requested $39,130,436 in “new” county money. Mr. Schuh proposed an allocation of only $11,989,700, underfunding the request by $27,140,736.

Many badly needed improvements, including educator compensation and more staff, were cut away. To view the exhibit presented to the Board in yesterday’s meeting and get a clear idea of how many critical needs were cut by Mr. Schuh, please click here.

The exhibit will also show you how important it is for all available members to join us at 6:30PM at Annapolis High School on Monday evening for thirty minutes. Councilmen need to be reminded that when Richard speaks there are many more voices behind him. Such a reminder wouldn’t harm the Board members either.

Budget Hearing/Errata

An error appeared in this month’s TAAAC Action Report. The front page article misstated the location of Monday’s budget hearing. The hearing is not at the Parham Building. Correct details are below:

Anne Arundel County Public Hearing on the Budget

Monday, May 11, pickets at 6:30PM
Annapolis High School

Please arrive by 6:30 prepared to hold carry a sign (we’ll have plenty) for 30 minutes in support of our profession.

Enter the school at 7:00 if you’d like to support TAAAC President Richard Benfer and others who will be testifying in support of public school educators.

May 04, 2015
TAAAC Members Needed…

Public Budget Hearing
Monday, May 11, 7:00PM
Annapolis High School

County Executive Steve Schuh allocated only the minimum lawful level of funding. This will be the seventh consecutive year in a row. Every year deepens the wound.

It does not include:

  • Step increases
  • Positions for expansion of the EEE program to three more feeder systems. That is a program great for young people with a side benefit that it provides elementary teachers with additional planning time.
  • Additional instructional positions to address 1,100 new students. Class sizes will continue to rise.
  • New positions to meet the needs of non-English speakers

Please arrive by 6:30 prepared to hold carry a sign (we’ll have plenty) for 30 minutes in support of our profession.

Enter the building at 7:00 if you’d like to support TAAAC President Richard Benfer and others who will be testifying in support of public school educators.

May 01, 2015
Update: County Executive’s Budget – MOE Only Again

TAAAC President, Richard Benfer, and I sat through Mr. Schuh’s budget delivery this morning. While there might be some things to compliment about it, none involved public education. His treatment of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools was disconcerting. Yes, another budget doing no more than the state’s minimum lawful contribution…the seventh time in row. There was a placeholder for a 1% place holder for school system employees, but that small piece of news is trumped by lots of bad news.

It does not include:

1. Step increases

2. Positions for expansion of the EEE program to three more feeder systems. That is a program great for young people with a side benefit that it provides elementary teachers with additional time.

3. Additional instructional positions to address 1,100 new students. Class sizes will continue to rise.

4. New positions to meet the needs of non-English speakers ....and much more

Negotiations

In a sentence, what scant slow progress we have made might have just hit a roadblock.

What the County Council is willing and able to do with the Schuh Budget will decide much about the lives of our educators and their students in the coming years. Is it all that more important to attend the……

Anne Arundel County Public Hearing on the Budget

Budget Hearing
Monday, May 11, 7:00PM
Annapolis High School

Please arrive by 6:30 prepared to hold carry a sign (we’ll have plenty) for 30 minutes in support of our profession.

Enter at 7:00 if you’d like to support TAAAC President Richard Benfer and others who will be testifying in support of public school educators.

April 10, 2015
Negotiations Updates

Despite the slow but steady progress we've experienced since October, yesterday’s session took a troublesome turn. The parties spent nearly eight hours working together and in team caucuses trying to get back on a path that might lead to a tentative agreement. Obviously, there was no tentative agreement reached and the path to one has been obstructed.

From the start, TAAAC's priorties have been compensation and workload, and they have become virtually equal in significance. Yesterday, progress on both slowed to a virtual standstill.

Compensation: Even in the face of another allocation of maintenance of effort only from the County Executive, some progress was being made toward a settlement that would provide step increases plus some additional enhancement of a modest amount. Responsibility for the sudden change in direction yesterday fell to neither of the parties at the bargaining table. It was Governor Hogan’s recent actions at the state level, leaving local education agencies –including the Anne Arundel Public Schools - to worry whether they will have sufficient state funding even to continue business as usual. The following was excerpted from a MSEA legislative update issued today:

Late Thursday, Governor Hogan introduced another supplemental budget— that again fails to fund the priorities supported 176-10 by Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly. Those priorities include full funding of the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI), a critical part of the state’s commitment to education funding. In this budget proposal, the governor takes $75 million from the GCEI funding and other priorities (state employee salaries and Medicaid funding) and uses it to add money to the state’s supplemental pension payment.

This latest move from the governor further disrupts tenuous budget negotiations and is nothing more than political grandstanding in the 11th hour of the legislative session...

The budget dispute between the Governor and the General Assembly should be settled by April 23, a date which precedes our next scheduled negotiating session. Hopefully, the teams will be able to get back to making some progress – at least on compensation.

Workload

For yet another session, the Board has not moved on TAAAC’s workload issues other than to reject them. No counter offers, no flexibility. Governor Hogan doesn’t shoulder the blame on this one. Negotiators on both sides of the table recognize how critical the need is to find some relief. Regardless, Board’s negotiators do not appear authorized by the Board - at least not yet - to address it in meaningful contract language. This lack of progress on an issue that’s become so critical to every single employee in the bargaining unit could be significant enough on its own to obstruct a voluntary settlement.

The TAAAC President and staff are reaching out to AR’s for assistance in scheduling 5-10 minute meetings in as many schools as we are able during the months of April and May. When such meetings are scheduled at your schools, please take the time to attend.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for April 28.
Emails

Local educators have generated 2,215 emails to the County Executive and Council to date. To those of you who made the contacts, “Thank you.”

There is still time to act. Mr. Schuh will have the budget in his hands for another twenty days. To make a quick contact, go to:

http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1791&ea.campaign.id=36338

There is a default message for your convenient use, but it is often more effective for members to replace it with their own personal messages.

Budget Hearing

The Anne Arundel County Council will be holding two public hearings on the FY16 budget. TAAAC will be presenting testimony at the hearing scheduled for Monday, May 11th, 7:00PM, at Annapolis High School. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.

March 27, 2015
Update

Picketing

Thank you, to all who took the time to join the picketing. The demonstrators made the WBAL 11:00 news. The news spot is on the WBAL website and can be viewed at the following link.

http://www.wbaltv.com/education/teachers-demonstrate-over-funding-cuts/32043520

As most are aware, the picketing preceded a Town Hall meeting held by County Executive Steve Schuh. On the news spot, Mr. Schuh proudly declares that Anne Arundel County salaries are very competitive around the state and that the average “teacher” earns about $65,000. Well, we might be a bit more competitive IF our local educators were on their appropriate step, but even then Anne Arundel could not compete with Montgomery, Howard, Calvert, or even Baltimore City. Most of us are not on the appropriate step, but rather four years behind. When the four and a half years of steps being cut from the budget are taken into consideration, in real life some of our salaries are behind those of colleagues in surrounding districts by tens of thousands.

It should also be noted that the average ten-month teacher’s salary projected for FY2016 is approximately $57,800. Based upon the number used in the news spot, it appears that Mr. Schuh may have included a sizable group of six-figure earners who are not "teachers; a substantive error when computing an average teacher salary.

Emails

Local educators have generated 2,153 email messages to the County Executive and Council. To those of you who made the contacts, “Thank you.” To those who have not done so, please do. Perhaps you have a friend who teaches in one of our surrounding counties who may we willing to share her salary with you for comparison. Mr. Schuh would be interested in the results.

Workload

The TAAAC Negotiating Team has put twelve items related to workload on the bargaining table. We are having difficulty getting any movement on them. We are interested in putting together a list of duties that really are not terribly necessary when compared to other needs, like time to plan and prepare a lesson or give extra help to a struggling student. It would be helpful if members would identify for me any tasks or duties required in their schools and worksites that could be eliminated without substantive harm to educators, students or program.

Class Coverage

We anticipate an above average number of absences on this coming Monday. Please accept this reminder about the reduction in schedule or workload available to those who cover colleagues’ classes. The two pertinent provisions in the Negotiated Agreement are pasted below:

Article 15B

Substitutes shall normally be provided for all teachers absent from their regular teaching assignment including art, music, media specialists and physical education. Only after reasonable but unsuccessful efforts to obtain substitutes shall the principal assign teachers to other teachers' classes during their non-teaching periods.

Except in an emergency which occurs during the school day, no teacher shall be required to take a class for another teacher unless the teacher requested to take the class is given a reduced schedule or work load within the next five (5) work days. Substitutes shall be provided for teachers involved in field trips, athletic events or professional meetings approved by the appropriate administrator, provided the event is scheduled for a half day or more and funds are appropriated for this purpose.

Article 14A

When an uncovered vacancy causes a class of students to be divided among other teachers for the entire school day, the receiving teachers will each receive one (1) hour of compensatory in which the incidence occurs. Utilization of that leave will be arranged between the teachers and principal or supervisor.

There is a form you may use to make the appropriate request on: DOWNLOAD FORM

If there are problems or questions, please call TAAAC.

March 20, 2015

I try to reserve this distribution list for only negotiations updates. In reality, budget updates are at least as important. There are very few topics on the negotiations table that don't have price tags. Salaries, extra-instructional and extra-curricular pay, planning time, healthcare, workload relief, any type of leave, paid or unpaid; all come at a cost. So, please bear with me while I bring some brief budget news, some good, some troubling.

State Budget

The budget action taken by Maryland’s House of Delegates restored most of the $144M cut to education contained in Governor Hogan’s budget. Within that $144M was a cut to the Anne Arundel County Schools of $9,583,522, a sizable chunk of money to an already cash-strapped school system in a revenue capped county. The House action was very good news. It restored $8,960,542 (or more than 93%) of the pending reduction, critical to funding anything negotiated.

Some credit needs to go to the MSEA Government Relations office, and to our own TAAAC Government Relations Committee and its volunteer lobbyists that have been meeting with legislators virtually every Monday evening since January.

County Budget

Things are a little different in Anne Arundel County. County Executive Steve Schuh has held two of the three planned Town Hall Meetings, showcasing his five point plan. Toward a goal to Make Anne Arundel the best place to live, work, and start a business, the plan is intended to:

  • Reduce taxes and fees to create jobs.
  • Improve the quality of education by accelerating school construction.
  • Enhance public safety by increasing staff.
  • Reform all county government departments.
  • Create a cleaner environment and healthier waterways by repairing failing storm pipes and other infrastructure.

Conspicuous in its absence is the recruitment and retention of high quality teaching staff to fill those efficiently constructed schools. TAAAC members have been participating in postcard and email drives to encourage Mr. Schuh to fund the school budget, a necessary component to his five-point plan and his ultimate goal. If the competitive postion of AACPS continues to diminish, the teachers who fill those new schools might only be those unemployable elswhere. The email campaign alone has generated hundreds of emails to the County Executive and Council.

Readers who have not yet reached out to encourage Mr. Schuh to do the right thing for public local education should take the time to do so now. Here is the LINK.

Thank you to all who are participating. Councilman Walker commented publicly and positively last night on the number of messages he's been getting from teachers advocating for their interests.

Join the Picket Line

Let's give the five-point plan a sixth point at the third and final Town Hall meeting:

Thursday, March 26th
North County High School
10 First Street
Linithicum
Pickets 6:15PM to 7:00PM
Feel free to bring friends, colleagues, and family.
(Plan on arriving at 6:00)

January 26, 2015
IF SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED TOMORROW, JANUARY 27TH

This communication should start with a reminder that issues related to the school calendar are not within the lawful scope of negotiations in the Maryland Public Schools. In fact, the school calendar is one of only two topics that are explicitly prohibited by statute. Therefore, the collective bargaining agreement shared by TAAAC and the Board contains no prescriptive language or guidance on the use of the two days between the semesters.

The current controversy is that the second semester is going to start on time whether schools are opened or closed tomorrow, leaving the possibility of teachers having one less non-student day to prepare for the start of a new semester.

TAAAC members should be aware of the following:

Closing school tomorrow for inclement weather and beginning the second semester on Wednesday is not contrary to the School Calendar as amended on May 7, 2014, which states:

If emergency closings fall on January testing days or the teacher workday, secondary schools will reschedule so that there are four consecutive testing days followed by one teacher workday. This scheduling affects all schools.

The communication from the central office “encourages” teachers to take work home, an implication (unintended) that teachers will need to prepare for Wednesday on their own unpaid time. Under normal circumstances the suggestion would have been met with grievances contending a work week violation and a remedy involving salary. In this event, however, tomorrow will be considered one of our negotiated 191 (or 193, 195, 200, and 210) paid work days.

While the situation is not desirable at all, at the moment of this correspondence there is no situation ripe for appeal or grievance. However, if schools are closed tomorrow and if students return on Wednesday there is likely to be resulting situations that cause violations of negotiated terms and conditions of employment. Any member who knows, believes, or suspects they are in such a situation should contact TAAAC for guidance and assistance in taking the appropriate action.

The current Negotiated Agreement can be reviewed HERE.

January 23, 2015
Negotiations, Budget Workshop

Negotiations

Wednesday’s bad weather had a rippling effect that extended to our local collective bargaining. The snow arrived in mid-afternoon. Evening activities including the meeting of the Board of Education were cancelled. The Board had no opportunity to direct its negotiating team on items pending for Thursday's session, and the scheduled full-day negotiating session that would have been was not. The teams will not be together again until February 9. It was not the fault of either party. Nonetheless, a stall in negotiations such as this warranted you’re being informed.

Workshop on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

On Tuesday, a workshop on the proposed budget was held for the Board at the central office building. The Superintendent and Chief Operating Officer explained the proposed budget in some detail. It was confirmed that the $11.7 million placeholder in the proposed budget is insufficient to pay for a step increase for all employees. According to the Chief Operating Officer, a one step increase for all eligible employees would cost $14.1 million. The cited amount is a bit higher than the $13.25 million that’s been referenced by information coming from this office, and we’ve since been questioned about the difference. It is because our reports reference step increases for the four bargaining units who enjoy the benefit of collective bargaining and have step increases prescribed in their respective collective bargaining agreements. The COO’s higher projection included eligible employees from two additional units who do not share the benefit of collective bargaining.

Comments and questions from the Board members attending the workshop revealed that they are indeed reading your emails. Thank you to all who took a few minutes to make the contacts. To those of you who have not yet done so but wish to participate, be reminded that the Board will adopt its Budget on February 18. Time to make a difference is running out. The Board members’ email addresses are shown below along with those for their Assistant and the Superintendent:


Please avoid sending your email messages while on AACPS paid work time.

January 16, 2015
Budgets, Budgets, Budgets

1/15/15
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

The public hearing on the budget proposed to the Board was held as scheduled on Thursday, 1/8/15. To all who attended, thank you. To all who attended and gave testimony, a special thank you.

There is still time to advocate before the members of the Board of Education. They have a budget workshop coming up on Tuesday, January 20 at 6:00pm. No testimony will be taken, but nothing prevents educators from contacting Board members by email and following up by attending. The issue on which to advocate is a step increase. As proposed, the budget contains a “placeholder” for employee compensation that is insufficient in amount to cover the step increase that all four unionized bargaining units have in the respective Agreements. It’s a very serious concern. If the Board does not modify its budget to request funds from the County Executive to pay for a step increase, it is unlikely that there will be one. The Board cannot get from the County what the Board does not ask for.

Board members’ email addresses are shown below along with those for their Assistant (Ms. Connolly) and the Superintendent:


Please take a few minutes to send them your budget message; if it does not regard a step increase, then a priority of your own. The Board will adopt the budget to be recommended to the County Executive on Wednesday, February 18th with or without your input. Your input could make a difference in the result.

Maryland State Budget

Much talk goes on year after year about the County budget. That’s for good reason because the local government provides a larger portion of revenue to the school system than any of its other funding sources. However, we cannot ignore the significance of State funding, which is about one-third of the school system’s total revenue. The prospect of cuts in the state budget have been widely publicized. The potential for some of those cuts falling to public education is deeply troubling. Cuts to education would make our jobs more difficult. It would be harder to fund our contract, to provide the resources you need to do your job, and to support the class sizes and programs that our students deserve.

Please take the 20 seconds required to sign the below petition to protect funding for public education.

http://action.marylandeducators.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1791&ea.campaign.id=34614&ea.tracking.id=email

Stay tuned for updates soon after Gov.-Elect Hogan releases his full budget proposal.

Salary Talks
One of TAAAC’s issues at the bargaining table is to ameliorate internal inequities that occurred in the transition to the new scale. The parties agreed to appoint a joint subcommittee to work on reasonable approaches to do so. That subcommittee is holding its first meeting on the date of this correspondence. There is not a single approach that will not have a price tag. Please take the few minutes required to send some messages and sign the petition as requested above.



January 08, 2015
Negotiations/Budget Hearing

The first public hearing on the Board's FY2016 Budget was cancelled today due to driving conditions. So, it’s become even more important for TAAAC members to attend the hearing on Thursday, January 8, 7:00PM at the Parham Building, on 2644 Riva Road. Due to today's cancellation Thursday’s hearing will be the sole opportunity for direct input prior to the Board’s action on the Superintendent’s proposed budget and its submission to the County Executive.

Please be reminded that the $11.7 million placeholder for compensation increases in the proposed budget does not fund a step increase. Testimony will be given by TAAAC President, Richard Benfer, and nearly all of TAAAC leadership will be in attendance. Also, there are TAAAC members who are prepared to give some testimony on the impact underfunding has had on them, their families, and their students.

Negotiators from TAAAC and the Board will be at the table all day on the hearing date. There is an effort underway at the table to not only retain the step increase that already exists in the collective bargaining agreement, but to reduce some of the internal inequities leftover from the transition to the current scale structure. Success will require a higher level of funding than the proposed budget requests. What eventual action the Board takes on the proposed budget is critical.

Come to give direct testimony of your own, or come to support those who are testifying on your behalf. In either situation, please attend. Also, please wear any TAAAC regalia you may have. If you have none, wear something blue.

Second Annual Legislative Breakfast

If you act fast it is not too late to register for our 2015 Legislative Breakfast. This is your opportunity to meet and speak with your elected and appointed leaders in a relaxing environment. TAAAC will feature Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch. A dozen or so other legislators will be in attendance. Stay for a training after the breakfast if you'd like and learn tips for lobbying your legislators. We will have limited seating so be sure to register today!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

9:00AM-11:00AM
Union Jack's British Pub
2072 Somerville Rd.
Annapolis, MD 21401
• Breakfast buffet and beverages are provided.
• There is no cost to participants.
• Register Here: https://taaac.wufoo.com/forms/taaac-legislative-breakfast-2015/

Workload Survey of MSEA Urban Affiliates

MSEA’s Urban Bargaining Council (of which TAAAC is a member) is conducting a survey to acquire similar data from each of the affiliates. Please take a moment to answer the questions at the below link. Our effort to address the growing crisis in workload is extending statewide. This information will help.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1BOFsnONuziKNiVPhwwsPDykzzx9TOzh3r3W1zE7Sgoc/viewform

December 19, 2014
Slow Negotiations


There has not been much significant to report in negotiations despite the fact that the teams have had four full-day sessions and one half-day. The Board’s team has been reluctant to enter into meaningful discussions on matters related to compensation until the Superintendent made his budget proposal. Conversely, TAAAC’s team has made several proposals on the topic. Specifically on salary, they include an across-the-board increase (COLA), step increase, and some adjustments to scales to repair some internal inequities. TAAAC has proposals pending that address compensation other than salary as well. Now that the Superintendent’s budget proposal has been delivered, our discussions at the bargaining table will soon become much more meaningful. The teams meet again on January 8th.

Budget and Budget Hearings

The Anne Arundel County Superintendent proposed his budget on December 10th. There is both good and not-so-good within its four corners. Items directly impacting public school educators include:

  • $2.4 million for 33 teaching positions to partially address continued enrollment growth, a step toward slowing the continued increases in class size.
  • $2.5 million for expansion of the Triple-E program to the 19 elementary schools in the Chesapeake, Meade, and Southern clusters in addition to the North County cluster. This not just another program enhancement. There’s a side benefit to it. It provides elementary school teachers badly needed planning time.
  • $4 million to bolster our health-care fund.
  • $300,000 for increased Special Education staffing, addressing another area where the heavy workload can be spread just a little better.
  • $11.8 million as a place holder for increasing employee compensation to be finalized when negotiations are concluded. There is a problem with this one. A placeholder of only $11.8 million will not cover a step increase. It is to his credit that the Superintendent included a placeholder for compensation increases. But work needs to be done during the budget process to amend the amount and the effort to do so is already underway. MEMBERS CAN HELP.

Budget Hearings

TAAAC asks that every available member attends the January 8th Budget Hearing in the Boardroom of the Parham Building wearing TAAAC Blue. Willing members should arrive early enough to sign up to speak and tell their own stories of how the years between 2010 and 2014 have caused injury. The hearing begins at 7:00PM. Sign-up begin at 6:00PM. Come and support TAAAC President Richard Benfer as he presents testimony on behalf of public school educators.

Those that cannot make the January 8th hearing should attend the hearing at Old Mill High School at 7:00PM on January 6th and support TAAAC Vice President Pam Bukowski as she testifies on behalf of local public school educators.

Second Annual Legislative Breakfast

TAAAC invites you to join your elected state and local officials and our Anne Arundel County school board for our Legislative Breakfast. This is your opportunity to come out and speak with your elected and appointed leaders in a relaxing environment. TAAAC will feature Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch. Stay for a training after the breakfast and learn tips for lobbying your legislators. We will have limited seating so be sure to register today!

Saturday, January 10, 2015
9:00AM-11:00AM
Union Jack's British Pub
2072 Somerville Rd.
Annapolis, MD 21401

https://taaac.wufoo.com/forms/taaac-legislative-breakfast-2015/

MSDE SLO Progress Survey

Be heard on the topic of Student Learning Objectives. Please click on to the link below to participate in the SLO Progress Survey. Responses will be returned directly to MSDE for compilation by December 24. http://goo.gl/forms/6ytrPNRLnT

November 7, 2014
Negotiation Survey Modified

The survey distributed earlier this date has been appropriately modified. TAAAC members are asked to click onto the below link and complete the survey by Thursday, November 13th. Those few who went ahead and completed the first survey will need to respond again to have their information included in the results. Sadly, we had to lose the early responses to make the required edits. The data gained will inform TAAAC leadership in preparation for a Board of Education retreat on Saturday, November 15th, and the TAAAC Negotiating Team when bargain resumes on Thursday, November 20th.

Take Survey

Please take the very few minutes required to participate. Unless any open-ended suggestions are offered at the survey’s conclusion, the entire survey can be completed with mouse clicks.

Be reminded that according to Maryland law the topics of maximum class size and school calendar are outside of the lawful scope of negotiations.

October 27, 2014
Negotiations

There is not much news to report on the bargaining front so far. Despite slow and scant progress, it’s only fair to inform members that negotiations are underway. As stated in the collective bargaining agreement that deadline was …the second Friday in October. There has been a second session as well. To date most of the work done was to lay out a negotiating schedule through February and discuss our “likely” priorities. We also took considerable time to hear from a series of seven consultants from three specialist categories that brought detailed information that will inform both parties when length of work year decisions are on the table.

The parties agreed that November 20 would be the deadline for either party to introduce new topics. That date provides time from the Board convene at its November 15 retreat, and time for TAAAC to complete its survey. Members will be receiving a link to the negotiation survey in the next few business days.

County Council District 5

For reasons already outlined in public media, Anne Arundel’s council race in District 5 has captured some attention well beyond the county limits. TAAAC recorded a video of the debate between Patrick Armstrong and Michael Peroutka earlier this month and recently isolated the exchanges related to education as a sort of highlight recording for educators. The video is available below and the list of TAAAC - recommended candidates is listed here.

October 24, 2014
TAAAC recommended Council candidate Patrick Armstrong debates Michael Peroutka on Education Questions



September 02, 2014
First Association Rep Council of New Fiscal Year

Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 3, 2014, kicks off the new school/fiscal year for TAAAC’s governing body, the Association Representative Council. The gavel will fall at 5:00PM as it has for about two decades, and the location will be the Severna Park Middle School Cafeteria.

This week’s agenda will include items regarding the below topics as well as some others:

  • Negotiations/Budget outlook for Fiscal Year 2016
  • School Visits
  • Staff Addition
  • Political Action / General Election
  • Celebrate Educators

I ask that Association Representatives accept this as a reminder to attend the year’s first ARC, and that members in schools and worksites currently without an AR to make a selection in order to participate in tomorrow’s ARC.

First Payday

For all Unit 1 employees, with exceptions for 12-month employees and 210-day employees, tomorrow will be the first payday of the 2014-15 school year. Ten-month educators should see some benefit from the collective bargaining agreement that took effect on July 1. As a reminder, most Unit 1 employees were receiving salary distributions payment during the summer from escrowed FY2014 earnings. Tomorrow’s distribution will be the first one that provides compensation at the Fiscal Year 2015 rate.

TAAAC Still Accepting Volunteers

The results of the upcoming general election – depending upon what they are – have the potential to change the current trend in how Anne Arundel County funds public education. Members interested in spending a couple hours once or twice before the election should contact their school’s AR, the TAAAC Office at 410-224-3330, or call or email Mike Devers at 443-454-1169 or MDevers@mseanea.org.

TAAAC is helping its recommended candidates in their canvassing, lit dropping, phone banking, sign posting, and poll-working. Every decision made effecting public education is made by an elected politician or an appointee of an elected politician. Six thousand organized local educators can have a great deal of influence in the selection of those decision-makers.

July 28, 2014
Update on Compensation

Summer Pay Distributions

Calls and emails have been received from members who noticed the amounts on summer pay distributions are less than those paid in the last few paychecks of the regular work year. Almost every ten-month Unit 1 employee should be having a similar experience, but there are varying levels of the discrepancies. So far, we have found all of them explainable. Here’s why:

1.) Summer pay distributions to everyone except twelve-month employees are not current earnings. Rather, they come from summer reserve accounts maintained for ten-month employees. These reserve accounts are built by holding a portion of each of the 22 regular pay distributions in escrow to be distributed over the 4 pay periods during the summer months. To equalize the amounts of all 26 pay distributions, 2/13ths (or about 15.4%) of each regular pay distribution must be escrowed.

2.) The vast majority of Unit 1 employees received a step increase on January 22, 2014. Pay distributions from that date until the end of the work year were at a higher rate than those that occurred before the step increase. The natural consequence to the summer reserve accounts was that the amounts escrowed prior to January 22 were insufficient to equalize the higher salaries that began after January 22, because salaries were lower for the first four month of the school year. The summer reserve distributions now occurring reflect the averages of salaries earned over the course of the entire work year.

3.) Some larger discrepancies have occurred that cannot be explained by the simple change in salaries that occurred on January 22. In those instances, we have found the effected members suffered some unpaid time during the regular work year. When there is no salary distribution - or if the distribution is reduced - due to lost time, the portion escrowed is also reduced. That has a direct impact on the amount available for disbursement over the summer months and the four summer distributions.

Effective Date of Fiscal Year 2014 Salary Increases

As indicated in the Settlement Summary, the effective date of the new Agreement was July 1, 2014, but the salary changes will not be experienced simultaneously by all employees. As mentioned above, summer pay distributions to ten-month employees are being made from reserved FY2014 dollars earned last year. So, while twelve-month employees began earning FY2015 salary at the start of the fiscal year on July 1, ten-month employees do not begin earning FY2015 dollars until the start of the 2014-15 school year. With the exception of 210-day employees, ten-month employees will see the increase in the first pay day in September. The excepted 210-day folks will see it one pay period earlier.

The use of a summer escrow is not new. It began with the Negotiated Agreement that took effect on July1, 1997, when the 26-pay day schedule was negotiated. In the event there is interest on the part of any readers to return to the previous 22-day pay plan for ten-month employees, be reminded that the entire Agreement opens for negotiations this coming October and we are accepting suggestions.

June 12, 2014
Negotiations/Budget

Please accept my apologies for the typos in the distribution made earlier today. It was a draft that escaped unedited. Thank you to all who gently brought the problem to my attention.

Hopefully, the positive news found in the content provided some encouragement. An edited version has been forwarded to our webmaster for posting. 

Link to Apple Ballots

In this morning’s update there was an embedded link that some recipients found to be unusable and notified me of the problem. Readers having difficulty should find success using the following: www.mdappleballot.com  

Clicking on the above should prompt you to enter an address and get you to your ballot.

On Wednesday, June 4th, TAAAC’s Association Representative Council (ARC) voted by wide margin to accept the tentative agreement after reviewing the results of the electronic straw balloting conducted during the previous week. Of the 126 schools and work sites that submitted votes, only three schools voted to reject the tentative settlement. The ARC voted accordingly.

Earlier on that same date and due to good work by the two most persistent friends of public education we have, Councilmen Benoit and Trumbauer, the Anne Arundel County Council restored sufficient funding to cover our transition to the new scale and a step increase on that scale. Happily, the Laura Neuman budget did not pass as proposed.

On June 18th, in in its final meeting before the end of fiscal year 2014 and twelve days before the expiration of our current contract, the Anne Arundel Board of Education will meet and reconcile its FY15 budget. It should also be voting to ratify our FY15 Negotiated Agreement. In that our members will still be working and the event is a day time meeting, most members will not be able to attend. There will be supporting testimony given by TAAAC’s President and/or Executive Director. Once successfully ratified by the Board, Unit I employees will have new salary scales on which there are no longevity (or “dead”) steps, and their first full-year step increase since 2009.

On its face this may seem like good news indeed, but looking down the road this could end up being just an anomaly. We still need to make some changes in the Arundel Center. Check out http://mdappleballot.com to find our recommended candidates and please check out the “volunteer” tab. We need some member-volunteers to cover critical voting locations on June 24th.

Empty Pages

Unlike the past three years of negotiation sessions, in which the scope was limited to only reopeners that occurred during the four-year term of a standing contract, the negotiations to begin in October will be on a new collective bargaining agreement. The current four-year Agreement expires at the close of this month. We will be doing some surveying to assess priorities, particularly on items that carry price tags. Please take the time to respond.

Thank you

TAAAC did well this year at the bargaining table and at the Arundel Center. To all of you who contacted a councilman when asked, attended the May 8th public hearing, and helped fill the entire first floor of the Arundel Center on May 12 beyond its capacity, you made a difference. It is not coincidental that the tone of conversations around the budget changed after May 12. To those who took part in none of these activities, take a moment to thank your colleagues who did.

May 29, 2014

TAAAC Update / Balloting Reminder

Be Heard, Vote on Your Contract

TAAAC’s Association Representative Council will vote to accept or reject the Tentative Agreement at its June 4th meeting, per the May 23rd email correspondence from the Public Information Office. We have approximately 1,000 responses to date.

In that the determination of the ARC will be informed by the balloting underway, it is critically important for educators who will be working under conditions defined in the Tentative Agreement to make their voices heard.

To cast your ballot on the Tentative Agreement reached between the parties’ respective negotiating teams, please review the Settlement Summary and the Tentative Salary Scales, then use the CLICK HERE to cast your vote.

If clicking on the link does not work immediately, please copy and paste it onto the URL line.

Please remember that the Tentative Agreement is still subject to funding by the County Council.

Word of Caution

It is our understanding that representatives from the National Teachers Associates (NTA) are visiting schools selling insurance products to employees. Be advised that the products being sold are similar to those offered by local vendors that have earned the trust of this Association, have partnered with TAAAC for many years, have provided timely and high quality service, hold AACPS payroll keys for easy payment, and retain local and available agents to troubleshoot any problems.

Before participating in any plans offered by NTA (or any other unsponsored vendor) it would be prudent for members to compare the products offered with those offered within TAAAC’s member-only benefit programs. Yes, take the offer you like best but it's worth the time to compare.

If there are any questions, please call or email Bill Jones at 410-224-3330 or bjones@mseanea.org.

May 09, 2014

There was an error in the dates referenced in the update regarding the final workday for teachers. Below you will find a reprint with the typo-generated date of June 15 replaced by the correct date of June 25.

Final Work Day of the Year

TAAAC’s been deluged with questions and complaints about the final work year. Readers should know that the AACPs had the absolute authority, standing and right to require 191-day teachers to work in the schools until June 25th when their contractual number of work days would have been completed. The MSDE waiver for children had no impact on our collective bargaining agreement. In light of that reality the “negotiations” that occurred were not held on a level table. TAAAC representatives did what was needed to shorten that work year and had little control over what the employer could do with the remaining days. Below is the result of those discussions as they were agreed on April 28th:  

From the Board

1)    June 18th is the final student day of the 2013-14 year.

2.)    June 19th is a self-directed work day for teachers to close out the work year.

3.)    The first half of June 20th is for professional development.

4.)    The second half of June 20th is for closing out or similar activities.

5.)    June 20th is the final in-school workday for the regular teacher work day.

6.)    June 23rd is for on-line professional development that may be completed on that date or at any time during the summer months.

TAAAC’s Part

In order to prevent the Unit I work force from continuing through Wednesday, June 25th, TAAAC needed to withdraw the workload grievance (Benfer, et al.) submitted in February 2014 and heard informally on April 8th.  

April 25, 2014
TAAAC Update

We have a Tentative Agreement with the Board. It is still subject to funding by the county and members will be asked to participate in the funding effort. Members will also be asked to recall in the June Primary and the November General Elections those incumbent candidates who helped and those who further injured us. More will be forthcoming on the funding effort and related organizing. For now, rather than dilute this good news with troublesome topics, I’ve briefly summarized the TA below along with a draft of the pertinent changes in contract language.

The TA provides a new salary scale that starts at Step 1, ends at Step 25, and has no longevity (or “dead”) steps. It also adds a 13th step to the SPC scales to accommodate a few dozen of our Tech Ed colleagues who have been languishing on the top step of a short scale for lots of years.  Almost all unit members will receive a $500 to $800 increase just from the transition alone to the new scale. No one will lose money in the transition. The transition is immediately followed by a salary step increase on the new scale. These new scales reduce the cost of a salary step from $14.6 million to $9.4 million. It is hoped that we have constructed a scale that the holders of the purse strings on Calvert Street might find fundable in future years.

The TA also contains language intended to provide some level of relief to elementary educators who struggle with severely insufficient planning time, and some better access to electronic means for TAAAC’s communications to members TAAAC.

 
Draft Settlement 04-23-14
[bolding indicates new language]  

Salary

The current salary scale structure is replaced by a series of 25-step columns with no longevity (or “dead”) steps for all except the columns for BA/SPC holders and Provisionals.

Provisional scales will remain in their current structure. The BA/SPC column will be a 13-step scale.Transition of current employees will be by dollar-amount salary rather than by experience step. Individuals will be moved to the closest amount to current salary, but no less than current salary. Then, a step increase on the new scale will be provided.

Article 11C, Planning Time

For elementary school teachers, a minimum of 210 of these 410 minutes of planning time will be scheduled during the student day and set aside for the individual planning time for delivery of instruction. Individual planning time during the student day for elementary school teachers will be scheduled in blocks of no less than 30 consecutive minutes. Nothing contained herein would preclude an elementary school from using a model which provides double blocks (1 full hour) on some days of the week and none on others in meeting the above 210 minutes minimum.

1. Administrators will limit the number of meetings where administratively possible to afford elementary teachers optimal time for planning.

2. Principals and FAC’s will collaboratively consider departmentalizing to assist in managing elementary teacher workload. If a collaborative determination cannot be made, assistance may be sought from the appropriate supervisor or designee.

3. AACPS with TAAAC involvement shall examine and implement best practices to improve the utilization of elementary school planning time.

Article 11C, items #1 through #3 may not be subjected to the grievance process.

Article 21 J. - Use of School Delivery Service and Electronic Mai

TAAAC may have the privilege of using the school delivery system and electronic mail to distribute TAAAC, MSEA, and NEA materials and those of MSEA and NEA as described in Item F above, as long as such distribution does not interfere with the distribution of AACPS materials of the school system. TAAAC shall submit materials to the Superintendent’s designee for approval prior to distribution via electronic mail. The designee’s determination will be based solely on whether the content complies with this provision and shall be made within five (5) business days from receipt of the request.

Remember, we need you to attend the Public Budget Hearing with us on May 12th, 7:00, at the Arundel  Center  on Calvert Street in Annapolis.  Wear something in TAAAC Blue.

 
March 20, 2014
Rally

Plans for the member rally scheduled for Hellas on March 26th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm are coming along nicely, so are the registrations. Nonetheless, there is room for more. TAAAC has the banquet room reserved for members and will be providing food and beverages. Register Here

Premium Holiday Grievance / Withdrawn

In the fall of 2013, the Board closed out its fiscal year 2013 budget. In the exhibit used for the closeout, the Healthcare Fund balance showed an amount that constituted 185% of average monthly claims expenses. Collective bargaining agreements of all four represented Units (1, 2, 3, and 4; represented by TAAAC, AEL, AFSCME 1693, and SAAAAC, respectively) require that employees are reimbursed their share of any fund balance over 150% of average monthly claims. The reimbursement would be in the form of a premium holiday in the month of December. On its face, closing out at 185% seemed to indicate that the premium holiday should have occurred, but none did.

TAAAC raised the question and asserted that the premium holiday was due, but failed to receive a satisfactory response. So, TAAAC’s President along with its other Officers and Directors, initiated the appropriate grievance and submitted it to the Superintendent.  On March 10th, the requisite informal conference was held and budget data was reviewed in detail. Some unanticipated information was revealed.

The Board’s accounting for healthcare contributions and claims costs separates active employees from retirees. The total fund balance did in fact exceed 150% of average monthly claims. In fact, the fund balance grew by approximately $5.8 million during fiscal year 2013. But, the entirety of that growth was due to retirees’ claims expenses coming in at almost $6.5 million under projections. On the other hand, claims costs for active employees actually exceeded projections and reduced the total fund balance to about $700K less than it would have otherwise been.

      

In that the language clearly states that employees will be reimbursed the employees’ share of the overage, and the employees’ share was less than zero; there was little choice but to withdraw the grievance. Following consultation with TAAAC’s attorney, TAAAC’s Officers and Directors chose to do so at its March 12th meeting.

Work Time Grievance

TAAAC’s Officers and Directors have a countywide grievance regarding workload pending as well. Much of the information substantiating that grievance came from survey responses and “timekeeper” provided by members.  The grievants contend that:

Requirements to complete the job this year have forced the Grievants to work far beyond the 37 ½ hour contractual work week in order to complete the required related professional duties …. The Common Core, the new evaluation process, and SLOs, all related professional duties, have exponentially added to the time necessary to complete the job.

More reporting on that matter will occur as progress is made.

Budget Contacts

To those who may not have taken a minute to Contact County Executive Neuman to ask for her support for full funding of the Board’s Budget request, please take a minute to do so.  It really will not occupy much time. To do so quickly and easily, click onto the below link, enter the information requested on the front page, hit the “Submit” button; then keyboard your message and hit “Submit” again. While it would be better for you to tell your own story, you can simply chose to forward the pre-prepared message.

March 14, 2014
Negotiations

The negotiating teams of TAAAC and the Board met yesterday for the first time since February 11. It is the belief most negotiators at the table that an eventual settlement (as opposed to impasse) will be the eventual result. As reminder to members, this year’s bargaining was solely around the issue of salary (with a mutual agreement to attempt a restructuring of the scales), and what began as two “wildcards” per party.  During negotiations there were a few other topics that were reopened by mutual consent and settled early. Those topics were mileage reimbursement, availability of Board Policy Book and HELP Manuals, and Printing of the Agreement. Work time and email related issues brought as wildcards are still outstanding.

There has been much progress in the restructuring of the salary scale, with one particular model getting serious consideration.  If there is a settlement, and if the settlement includes this model, Unit 1 employees will be transitioned to a set of scales in which the columns remain in a similar format as the current scales, but the number of rows would increase to 25 with no longevity (or ‘dead’) steps.

More detail should be available by the April 2 Association Representative Council.

        
Anne Arundel County Budget

Any settlement that the negotiations teams may reach will be subject to funding by the County Executive, Laura Neuman. The same is true for our sister organizations; AEL, SAAAAC, and AFSCMCE Local 1693, whether or not they are currently in negotiations or enjoying the respite of a multi-year agreement.  As County Executive, Ms. Neuman wields more power over the county budget than any other individual. She has unilateral discretion to make cuts not only in all county departments, but also in any of the categories in the education budget. On the other hand, she also has the tools and the resources necessary to fully fund the Board’s budget as requested. But to date, she has given us reason to anticipate another year of maintenance of effort only, which would leave us again to struggle and make do with merely the minimum allocation allowable under state law. 

         

TAAAC is asking its members to contact Ms. Neuman to share how the lack of necessary funding has impacted teachers, education support employees, students, and schools. To do so quickly and easily, click onto the below link, enter the information requested on the front page, hit the “Submit” button; then keyboard your message and hit “Submit” again. Or, you can simply forward the pre-prepared message.

email county executive Laura Neuman
 
Mark Your Calendars
   

Join your TAAAC leadership and staff at a rally for members on Wednesday, March 26, from 5pm to 7pm at Hellas Restaurant and Lounge, 8498 Veterans Hwy, Millersville. TAAAC will be providing the food and beverages.

Register Here

January 9, 2014
Budget Hearing Tonight

7:00PM • Parham Building • 2644 Riva Road

The sign-up list for those wanting to speak is available starting at 6:00.

Please wear royal blue (or some "TAAAC-wear") to be identified as a supporter of educators.

January 8, 2014
Budget Hearing January 9th, 7:00PM

“This county will lose me on the day I can retire and it is a shame because I really care about these kids and I make great strides with the low level and diverse population of students I teach.”

Does this ring a familiar note? It is the closing remark from one of the many local educators who’ve expressed frustration with an unmanageable workload.  It would be helpful for members of the Board of Education to hear from others with contributions to make.

TAAAC is asking every available member to attend the January 9th Public Hearing on the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget at the Parham Building on Riva Road. We ask those who have our blue TAAAC shirts or jackets to wear them. We ask that members who do yet have any TAAAC regalia to wear something blue. The hearing begins at 7:00PM.

We are encouraging every willing member to come and stand before the Board and share the personal struggle to balance an increasingly unmanageable workload with family and personal obligations in the face of declining standard of living, and ask the appointed members of the Board for some relief. The budget as proposed provides none. Personal stories are far more compelling than summaries provided by representatives.

Even those who may not want to testify should plan on attending in support of President Benfer and their colleagues who come to tell their stories.

January 2, 2014
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget / Hearing January 9th

TAAAC is asking every available member  to attend the January 9th Public Hearing on the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget. We ask those who have our blue TAAAC shirts or jackets to wear them. We ask that members who do yet have the TAAAC regalia to wear something blue. For reasons explained below, this is an important hearing. Please come and join us whether or not you plan to give testimony.

During the week immediately prior to the holiday break, Superintendent Perkins presented her proposed budget to the members of the Board. The budget represented an overall $35.5M increase over the current year. It contained funding for all bargaining units who have ratified negotiated agreements in place for FY15. But there was one conspicuous disappointment.

Over the course of the past few months, the negotiating teams have spent entire days searching ways to provide additional teacher-directed work time, especially in the elementary schools where the need has become critical. Planning time was an acknowledged priority of both parties. It was clear during the discussions that additional staffing is necessary to resolve the matter in any effective way; and just as clear that the employer believed such staffing to be unaffordable. The matter is not yet settled and there is a very real potential for an impasse. There was some hope that additional staffing specifically for the purpose of providing time for teachers to get their work done might have made it to the budget proposal. Sadly, it did not. Yes, there are 75 new positions that made the request; 32 to address the increase in student enrollment and about 43 for program enhancements costing $5.1M.

TAAAC is providing testimony at the Public Hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 7:00PM at the Parham Building on Riva Road. TAAAC President, Richard Benfer, will be presenting it. This hearing is not an opportunity just for members of the general public. It is also an opportunity for teachers struggling to balance an increasingly unmanageable workload and a declining standard of living to stand up and take a couple minutes to tell their stories and ask the appointed members of the Board for some relief. The budget as proposed provides none.

TAAAC will be monitoring but not presenting at the January 7th hearing at Old Mill High School.
 
January 11th Legislative Breakfast, There is Still Some Room.

TAAAC’s Legislative Breakfast is being held at Union Jacks at 2072 Somerville Road in Annapolis, from 8:00AM to 10:00AM. We have slightly more than 100 attending, including more than 20 elected and appointed public policy and law makers. It’s not too late to sign up. A buffet breakfast and beverages will be provided. The event is free to members. REGISTER HERE.  Maryland House Speaker, Mike Busch, will be address in the group. 

Association Representative Considers Workload Action (cont’d from 12/5/13)

As readers will recall from the December 5th update, TAAAC is collecting spreadsheets or other forms of documentation from teachers substantiating the number of hours each has been required to work beyond the paid 37 ½ hour work week on tasks other than planning lessons. Those wish to add their documentation to the batch may still do so. Please email to bjones@mseanea.org or fax to 410-841-5117.

december 16, 2013
Workload Survey

Please select the appropriate link for your level and complete the survey.  Thank you for your participation.
High School Middle School Survey
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HSMS_Survey
Elementary Survey
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Elementary_Workload_Survey

November 08, 2013
New Proposed School Discipline Regulations Scheduled to be Imposed by State Board

The State Board of Education recently published proposed regulations on student suspension and expulsion that would handcuff local education agencies (LEA’s) by removing local control and flexibility regarding expulsions and suspensions. Moreover, the mandates would bring yet more workload to LEA’s with no commensurate funding to provide the staff to comply.

Any expulsion or suspension of a student in excess of 10 days who is not placed in an alternative education setting, would require the LEA to continue minimum education services. Those services would include daily lessons to be provided by each teacher and weekly review and corrections of those assignments. In short term suspensions, students would need to complete any missed assignments without penalty and principals would be required to give each parent or guardian the name and contact information of a staff member whose responsibility will be to endure that the missed work is completed.

In addition, disproportionality is addressed with a demand to produce a plan to reduce it in one year, and eliminate it in three. It is a demand that may be reasonable or unreasonable depending upon the willingness of parents/guardians/caregivers to cooperate and students to conform. The ultimatum seems to disregard the fact that educators constitute only one of the factors in the equation.

The proposed regulations are posted in their entirety here for you to review. You can use this link to quickly email your comments to the members of the State Board to request that they do not encroach upon the control local education agencies need to have over their schools. 

Needs and resources in terms of both funding and staff to meet those needs vary too widely for such programs to be dictated from Baltimore Street.

The Maryland State Board will take action on the proposed regulations on December 10th, so please comment as soon as you can. You may note that a November 4th deadline for public comment was announced. It has been extended, so please don’t be dissuaded from commenting. Even if you choose not to draft your own statement, there is one pre-prepared that you may use. Simply replace it to use your own. Either way, the appointed members of the State Board need to hear from you. Improving student discipline issues should be a top priority, but educators’ voices need to be heard to make sure that any changes truly help students and are feasible for school systems.

Free Credit Seminar for Members and their Families

TAAAC’s housing partner, TheMDResidentialExpertsTeam.com, along with First Home Mortgage, is sponsoring a free seminar for members of TAAAC, SAAAAC, and AEL on Thursday, November 14, from 4PM to 6PM at Keller Williams Flagship of Maryland, on 1111 Benfield Blvd., Suite 250, in Millersville. Food is being served. TAAAC and MRT have been partners in providing what we believe is the single most comprehensive housing program for educators in the US.  Anyone interested in understanding the credit report and what it means will find this seminar quite helpful.  

October 30, 2013

We want to announce that Interim Superintendent, Mamie J. Perkins, will be addressing the November 6th Association Representative Council and will be addressing some of the concerns that have been raised to her in recent testimony given by our TAAAC President, Richard Benfer.

If your school or work site has not yet selected an Association Representative, there is still time to select one to attend this meeting.  Similarly, if your selected AR's are unavailable for this meeting, there is time to select alternates.

Also, please note the one-time change in the location.

TAAAC’s next ARC will be held on Wednesday, November 6 | 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM | Severn River Middle School Cafeteria*

Items on the Agenda will include:
     
  • Visit from Interim Superintendent, Mamie J. Perkins
  • Negotiations
  • Member Benefits (Long Term Care / TAAAC Housing)
  • Legislative Breakfast
  • TAAAC Recommendation Process
  • Mission Possible

* NOTE THE TEMPORARY CHANGE IN VENUE

September 19, 2013
TAAAC Negotiated Agreement 2013-2015

The negotiated agreement between the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County.

The new TAAAC/Board Agreement, including all pertinent appendices (SLB Rules and Procedures, Benefits, and Salary Scales) are now available for review and DOWNLOAD HERE. Like the 2009-13 Agreement, we will probably print a limited amount of hard copies, thereby joining the digital age and saving a few trees.  However we will make certain that anyone who requests a hard copy will receive one.    The negotiations for the scheduled re-openers to be implemented in fiscal year 2015 will begin early next month.  Only one reopener is named in advance. It will involve the restructuring of the salary scales. Other than that, each party may bring to the bargaining table no more than two topics of its choice.    Another Candidate Announces   Attorney General Doug Gansler will be announcing his Candidacy for Governor here in Annapolis at 12:00 Noon on Saturday, September 28th, at Annapolis City Dock.  Obviously, the race for Governor will be one in which the Maryland State Education Association is heavily involved. MSEA members, especially those who may be attended the convention where the recommendation vote will be taken, should consider going down to the City Dock to meet the candidate. Those of you who want to make sure you’re counted can RSVP HERE.

October 18th

October 18th is a non-duty day for everyone but 12-month employees. Other than the 12-month employees, those who have been told that they must attend professional development events or meetings need to understand that anything they do on that date for their employer is voluntary. It is not a duty day and shou<bld be treated in the same manner that you'd treat any given Saturday. Twelve month employees must arrange their one-day reduction in the work year through a collaborative discussion with their respective principals or supervisors. 

     
September 18, 2013
TAAAC Negotiated Agreement 2013-2015

The negotiated agreement between the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County.

download agreement

 

September 12, 2013

Since the recent article in the Capital, TAAAC has received a few emails and calls regarding the vote taken last Tuesday evening on a fourth quarter transfer requested by the Board of Education from the County Council.  Members who fear that the unfavorable outcome will negate the work done at the bargaining team may set their concerns aside. The salary increase and the mid-year step are both still intact.

At the end of May, the Council adopted a budget that included a $1,004,580 allocation to the Board's operating budget.  That money goes to the Board in fourteen major funding categories. The Board may move and spend money at its discretion within each category but may not transfer money from one category to another without County Council approval.  The $1,004,580 allocation in its entirety is still in the hands of the Board.   Approval or rejection of the transfer request had no impact on the bottom line and no impact on the maintenance of effort (MOE) obligation. These transfer requests occur every year, and for decades they've been approved by rote or left to sit for thirty days at the end of which they presumed approved. 

Last year we had a County Executive (Leopold) who took issue with these transfers. Last week, we had a Council Chair (Walker) take issue.  The requested transfer would have reduced the allocation in three categories (the biggest chunk from Materials of Instruction), and re-allocated to the categories necessary fund the 1% salary increase that is already in your paychecks.  Unless the situation changes, the rejection will make it more difficult for the Board to fund the negotiated increase.  However, the Board is obligated to fund it.  Even if they weren't, I believe the majority of the Board members want to fund it.  In any event, they have little choice.  Their budget was reconciled and our contract was ratified with full knowledge of what the County's budget provided.  The time for the "renegotiations" as provided in public school bargaining law has passed. 

The Council did not save a nickel in tax payer dollars.   A couple thought they averted having to provide the much needed enhancement in teacher salaries. Well-intended, one thought the reduction in materials would require teachers to buy more out of personal funds thereby losing any salary increase gained. I think one just enjoyed imposing his will on the Board.The rejection just made it more painful for the Board to do what it is obligated to do.  TAAAC leadership is working with some friendly members of the Council to help repair the damage caused by the short-sighted rejection.  Result of that effort notwithstanding, we will get what we bargained. 

   
September 04, 2013
MSEA Launches More From the Core Ad Campaign

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 9:30-11:30
Annapolis, MD @ Doubletree Annapolis Hotel: 210 Holiday Court, Annapolis, MD 21401 

Starting on September 2, MSEA will launch its More from the Core ad campaign, focused on the implementation issues that MSEA has long identified as critical to the success of Common Core: adequate resources for technology, textbooks, and materials; ongoing training and support for educators; and community awareness of the changes taking place and how student test scores will be affected. This primarily online and parent-focused campaign was featured in a story on WBAL-TV last night and will showcase a video featuring President Weller. Use the attached talking points to discuss the campaign or Common Core with parents, and please share the video and marylandeducators.org/commoncore link on your websites, social media, and with partner groups.

NEA Member Benefits presents

Summer Workshops by Integrated Financial Solutions
This workshop is designed for all NEA members, especially individuals considering retiring in the next five years.

Preparing for income in your retirement years:

  • MD pension and payout options in retirement.
  • Social Security retirement benefits.
  • Developing income from your investments

SECURITIES OFFERED THROUGH LPL FINANCIAL MEMBER FINRA/SIPC

NEA Member Benefits is not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, LPL Financial

June 19, 2013
Follotive Agreement Ratified

Dear Officers, Directors, Staff, and Members:

Follotive Agreement ratified by the TAAAC Representative Council on June 5th.  There may be a piece on the WBAL (Channel 11) news tonight.

June 07, 2013
Mark your Calandars

The following may/should be of interest to all TAAAC members during the summer months:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013: A free retirement planning session offered by TAAAC partner, Integrated Financial Solutions. It would be relevant for all but especially relevant for those considering retirement in the next five years. Breakfast will be provided at 9:30AM. The seminar will run from 10:00 to 11:30.

August 23, 2013: TAAAC-Sponsored outdoor event to Celebrate Educators. Event will be held at Burba Lake. Food, beverages, music and games will be available. Free to members. Further details will be provided as developed.

May 31, 2013
Voting on the Tentative Agreement is continuing until Jun 4th

Those of you who have not yet yet voted should refer to the May 29 email from Bob Mosier. Within that email is a link to the electronic voting site, and attached to it are the tentative salary scales and a detailed settlement summary.

This is your chance to be heard!

May 29, 2013
To All Unit I AACPS Employees: Tentative Agreement Reached


All Unit 1 AACPS employees should take few minutes to review the attachments. They contain a detailed summary of the tentative settlement of a new two-year Negotiated Agreement between the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County.

This is an opportunity for every employee impacted by this agreement to review it and cast an electronic ballot to accept or reject it. This tentative agreement represents what TAAAC’s negotiating team believes to be the most agreeable terms and conditions of employment available in the current environment. It is also the belief of TAAAC’s team that the representatives of the Board would describe it similarly. The negotiations began in early October and the settlement did not take form until early May with some hanging details finally disposed of last week. Reaching the settlement involved coming to agreement on or otherwise disposing of fifty-two (52) items brought to the bargaining table by the parties. Overall, it could be characterized as a generally collaborative effort in which neither party walked away with everything it wanted, but both finished with enough to live with, knowing that there are issues yet to be resolved in future sessions, including compensation.

Voting Instructions

To cast your vote for rejection or acceptance of the Tentative Negotiated Agreement should only take a few minutes. The results will inform the Association Representative Council in its decision to ratify or reject the settlement on June 5th, its final meeting of the year. For your vote to be considered, you should cast it by the close of business on Tuesday, June 4th.

To do so, follow the below instructions:
  • Open and review the attachment entitled Settlement Summary. It is an outline describing in detail all of the substantive changes made to the soon-to-expire 2009-13 Agreement.
  • Open and review the attachment entitled Unit I Scales or Unit I Specialist Scales as applicable. The scales will allow viewers to compare their current salary to the salary to be earned at the start of the 2013-14 school year, and again on January 22 when every Unit 1 employee will receive a salary step. For example, a 191-day teacher currently paid at salary step 14 on the Meq/APC column as shown on the Mid-year 2012-13 scales ($70,704). On the onset of the 2013-14 school year, that teacher would move to the same step and column (Step 14 on the Meq/APC) but on the 2013-14 scales ($71,411). On January 22, 2014, the teacher in our example would move down the grid to Step 17 ($74,797). Please note that the movement occurs without regard to the actual experience credit for every Unit I employee currently situated on salary step 14. The intent of the settlement is to pay every Unit I employee at a rate one salary step higher than current. Unit I employees on other steps and columns will follow the same movement at their respective starting points. Unit I employees currently paid at top step (Step 25) will move to the new Step 26 on January 22, 2014.

As members are deciding their votes, it must be understood that the Board of Education will be obligated to adopt terms and conditions of employment for all employees on June 19th, it’s final meeting before the expiration of our current Agreement. If TAAAC ratifies this tentative settlement, the Board will do likewise and the terms and conditions of employment for Unit I employees will be those same terms and conditions reviewed and voted on here. If TAAAC does not ratify the Board, as employer, must and will unilaterally adopt and impose terms and conditions for Unit I employees and it will not be restricted to those in the tentative settlement or even by those in the current agreement.

On behalf of TAAAC’s team; Leona Puglia (Brooklyn Park ES), Donzella Parker-Bert (Crofton MS), Diana Peckham (Northeast HS), Roxanne Beach (Odenton ES), Jackie Lubniewski (Severna Park HS), Jim Vaughn (Severn River MS), Ken Baughman (Magothy River MS), Pam Bukowsky, (Southern MS), Richard Benfer (President), I ask that you take the time to review the materials and cast your vote.

May 20, 2013
Processing of Fourth Marking Period Report Cards

The following is a verbatim excerpt from a memorandum approved by George Arlotto, Associate Supertintendent, and Richard Benfer, TAAAC President, regarding the procedure for completing the fourth quarter report cards. If there are question, please do not hesitate to call.

As you may be aware, TAAAC initiated grievances during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years contending that the timelines issued by AACPS for the submission of elementary school report cards did not comport with the provisions of Article 11K of the Negotiated Agreement, resulting in workload concerns for teachers. AACPS and TAAAC disagree over the interpretation of the term “computerized” as used in Article 11K, but agreed to resolve the grievance to avoid the time and expense associated with arbitration. Also, AACPS and TAAAC wanted to define the expectations and parameters of how elementary school report cards would be handled until the language of Article 11K is amended through negotiations or until the process by which report cards are generated is changed.

As a result of the agreement between AACPS and TAAAC, all elementary teachers in grades 1-5 will receive six hours of time between June 3 and June 13 to complete report cards. The time shall be in blocks of not less than one (1) hour during the negotiated work day and shall not be during individual planning time or duty-free lunch time. Each principal will work with the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) regarding how the time will be scheduled.

It is recommended that schools utilize the time set aside for professional development and/or collaborative planning during the week of June 3 in addition to the afternoons of June 11-13, as these are early release days for all students.

No later than the end of the work day, Thursday, June 13, teachers in grades 1-5 will have completed their draft reports cards in Chancery. Principals will review and edit report cards and comments prior to Monday, June 17. Teachers will finalize report cards by the close of business on Monday, June 17 in Chancery.  In the event that principals and FACs are unable to agree on a schedule of the six (6) hours, teachers will be required to complete the report card process on June 17. 

Because pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers will have already completed their progress reports and parent-teacher conferences prior to the beginning of the report card reporting dates, they may not have had six (6) hours designated during their work day to prepare progress reports. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers that did not receive the six (6) hours of time are to be released from any professional responsibilities during the six (6) hours of time that the grades 1-5 teachers are to receive to work on the preparation of report cards. If the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers have received any portion of the referenced six (6) hour period, they are only entitled to the remaining portion. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers may use this time as they see fit.

If any elementary teacher does not receive the full six hours of time, or any portion thereof, prior to the end of the work day, Monday, June 17, they shall receive per diem compensation for work performed to prepare report cards during non-duty time, including planning time, lunch, and after the work day. The accounting form that has been prepared by TAAAC shall be the acceptable form for the submission of time.

Please contact your Regional Assistant Superintendent or your TAAAC/UniServ Director for questions related to the elementary report card process.

May 9, 2013
Negotiations / Electronic Ratification / Budget Hearings

Tentative Settlement Reached!

The negotiating teams met on May 7th, 2013, and constructed the basis for a two-year agreement. But there is much contract language left to draft and some editorial changes that need to be made in the soon-to-expire four-year agreement. We hope to get a Settlement Summary out within the seven to ten business days containing sufficient detail for Unit 1 employees to use as the basis for their Accept/Reject vote. As readers will recall, the straw balloting, for the first time in our history, is going to be done electronically using Survey Monkey.  Here is a short list of the settlement highlights in note form:

  • 1% across the board increase for all effective on July 1, 2013
  • One full salary step increase effective on January 22, 2014
  • Addition of a Step 26,  2% higher than Step 25 to reward senior educators who would have otherwise been redlined
  • Healthcare unchanged for now, all health care issues were referred to the joint health care negotiating committee
  • Comp time for teachers who cover class during their own teaching time (primarily involving the splitting of classes that occurs in elementary schools)
  • 190-day work year with no commensurate reduction in salary
  • Annapolis High School MOU continues in current form if salary package is funded
  • Department Chairs may be involved in the rating and evaluation process only upon a 66% favorable vote of the department
  • “Educational leaders” (team leaders, reading teachers, lead teachers, and some others) will be involved in the evaluation process only for the purpose of helping to draft, monitor, and score Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s)
  • “Challenged school” stipends moved from $1,500 based on assignment and $1,500 based on performance, modified to $2,000 and $1,000, respectively; and the basis for the performance stipend moves from AYP to AMO.
  • More flexibility given to the Superintendent to add or remove schools from the challenged school list, deadline for publication of list is April 1
  • If release of the above mentioned list is late, teachers in schools removed from the list may be voluntarily placed on the excess list
  • Explicit protections for confidentiality in disciplinary action, job counseling, and investigations
  • Changes in the protection of salaries for educators criminally charged in certain limited offenses
  • Bereavement leave moved from 4 calendar days to 5
  • Due dates for report cards in the first three marking periods shortened from 5 to 4 days
  • Term of contract is two years with joint reopener regarding a restructuring of the salary scales, and each party may choose two other topics.

Messages to County Council Members

Please keep the messages to council members coming. Readers who have not yet participated in the email campaign may do so following the below directions...

DIRECTIONS

Click Here

  • Do not change the page, just scroll to the bottom.
  • Enter the Sender information.
  • Scroll back up just a bit and follow the directions. 

Budget Hearing Reminder

TAAAC President, Richard Benfer will be giving testimony at the hearing scheduled for May 13th, 7:00pm, and the Arundel Center on Calvert Street in Annapolis. We are asking all available members to come and support Richard in Annapolis. The hearing starts at 7:00pm arrival by 6:30pm should get you a seat in the Council Chambers.  It would be great if all members who have TAAAC shirts or jackets wear them. Others should wear something from their schools that serve to identify them as educators.

Vice-President Ken Baughman presented TAAAC’s testimony last night (5/8/13) at the Chesapeake Arts Center.

There are several members of the Council who have made quite hostile comments regarding the education budget earlier this year. Let have a crowd of educators present on the 13th to witness any further such behavior, and remember it when November of 2014 rolls around.

          
may 02, 2013
Negotiations

The negotiating teams met on April 30, 2013, and spent the day in attempts to dispose of some of the twenty-two remaining items, and managed to cull a few of them. There is one day of negotiations remaining, and it is anticipated that by the end of that session a tentative agreement will have been reached. The troublesome issues remaining are related to Family and Medical Leave, Employee Suspension and Dismissal, Work Year, Evening Activities, and Tuition Reimbursement.

As you may recall from the last update, the parties have agreed to remain in the room and at the table on May 7 for whatever length of time it may take to finish. That mutual commitment still stands.

Ratification

Presuming we do reach a tentative agreement, we will have scant time to hold the in-school straw balloting. To shorten the time required (and increase participation as well), we will be doing the voting electronically. With the cooperation of the Board and the use of Survey Monkey, the straw balloting can be finished in a matter of a few days. That will leave time for the binding ratification vote of the Association Representative Council (ARC) to occur on June 5th. If the process goes as planned, it will be the first time in a few years that we ratified an agreement before the new fiscal year is underway and did not have to hold a Special ARC to do so.

Messages to County Council Members

County Executive Laura Neuman made her budget recommendation yesterday (5/1). While it was virtually Maintenance of Effort money only (MOE, the minimum lawful contribution the county can make) for the schools once again, it did leave the employee portion a bit better off than expected. The expected shortfall that I have been reporting to the ARC is smaller now by almost 45%, making it much easier for our public school employer to find the remaining money necessary. In short, our agreement on compensation should be fundable as long as the County Council does not take action to obstruct it. Members are asked to send their Councilmen a message urging them to adopt the education as recommended. Members who live outside the county may contact the councilman representing the district in which their schools or worksites arrive.

It is now easier than ever for members to message the council. 

Directions:

Click Here

  • Do not change the page, just scroll to the bottom.
  • Enter the Sender information.
  • Scroll back up just a bit and follow the directions.

Budget Hearing Reminder

TAAAC President, Richard Benfer will be giving testimony at the hearing scheduled for May 13th, 7:00pm, and the Arundel Center on Calvert Street in Annapolis. We are asking all available members to come and support Richard in Annapolis. The hearing starts at 7:00pm arrival by 6:30pm should get you a seat in the Council Chambers.  It would be great if all members who have TAAAC shirts or jackets wear them. Other should wear something from their schools that serve to identify them as educators.

Members that will not be able to attend the hearing on May 13th should attend the May 8th hearing at the Chesapeake Arts Center on Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park. Vice-President Ken Baughman will be presenting TAAAC’s testimony at 7:00pm at that location.

There are several members of the Council who have made quite hostile comments regarding the education budget earlier this year. Let have a crowd of educators present to witness and any further such behavior, and remember it when November of 2014 rolls around.

Pictures from our SPARKS/REIGNITE Program
185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 205 206 207 208 209 210 212 213 214 215 216 217 220 221 222 224 226 227 228 229 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 241
April 22, 2013
Negotiations / Budget Hearings

Negotiations

The negotiations teams have met twice (April 5th and April 16th) since the last update. At the close of the last session an itemized list of the topics brought to the bargaining was reviewed. Cumulative TAAAC, Board, and Joint issues totaled fifty-two.

There is good news in that thirty have been disposed of by tentative agreement, withdrawal, or reassignment for resolution by a route other than formal negotiations. Among the thirty are items related to salary, evaluation process, evaluation timelines, achievement plans, transfer and excessing, assignment stipends, sick leave bank, and some modifications to the long-standing and inefficient negotiation procedures. On the other hand, there is still much work to be done and diminishing time remaining to complete it.  That is, if we are going to have a contract to put up for a ratification vote by June’s Association Representative Council.

The teams have two full days of negotiations scheduled, April 30th and May 7th. During those sessions there will be plenty of topics left to put away, some quite significant. Among the twenty-two  remaining are topics such as length of work year, back to school night, FMLA administration, planning time, tuition reimbursement, bereavement leave, Unit 1 employee rights and responsibilities, just cause, and others that make a difference in the life and livelihood of members.  

  

The parties have agreed to remain at the table on May 7th for as long as it takes to finish whatever topics remain; or until we discover that we cannot reach a mutual agreement. Presuming an agreement is reached, there will be limited time to conduct the in-school balloting. So, we are putting together a process by which it may be conducted electronically. That should not only speed up the time required to conduct the vote, but also increase the return.

Budget Hearings

There are two public hearings on the Anne Arundel County Budget. TAAAC President, Richard Benfer will be giving testimony at the hearing scheduled for May 13th, 7:00pm, and the Arundel Center on Calvert Street in Annapolis. We are asking all available members to come and support Richard in Annapolis. The hearing starts at 7:00 and arrival by 6:30 should get you a seat in the Council Chambers.  It would be great if all members who have TAAAC shirts or jackets would wear them. Others should wear something from their schools that serves to identify them as educators.

Members that will not be able to attend the hearing on May 13th will be welcome to attend the May 8th hearing at the Chesapeake Arts Center on Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park as an alternative. Vice-President, Ken Baughman will be presenting TAAAC’s testimony at 7:00pm at that location.

      

There are several members of the Council who made some hostile comments regarding the education budget earlier this year. Let's have a crowd of educators present not just to support TAAAC's elected officers, but also to witness any further such behavior, and remember it when November of 2014 rolls around.

March 22, 2013
Negotiations

The negotiating teams met six times in the past seven weeks and nearly all of the 51 issues brought to the table by one party or the other have been discussed thoroughly. It is getting close to the time where further discussion on some issues is unlikely to move either party, and each will have decisions to make.

Progress has been made on multiple issues related to salary and other compensation, voluntary and involuntary transfer, sick leave bank, and negotiating procedures. One of the unsettled major issues is scheduled for discussion on April 5. We anticipate that the discussion will include involving department chairpersons in the observation and rating of department members. Please forward a note to Bill Jones at the TAAAC office or an email to BJones@mseanea.org if you have an opinion or other input on that issue.

Our next two sessions are scheduled for April 5th and April 16th. Obviously, we are not going to meet our March 31st deadline.

Rally for Statewide Fairshare Fee

Are you annoyed with, or at least weary of, free-riding non-members driving up your MSEA dues? Take time on Wednesday evening to help do something about it.

Join MSEA, your Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and some of your TAAAC leadership to make a final push for the passage of Fair Share on Wednesday, March 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Annapolis. We'll meet at the Miller Senate Office Building on 11 Bladen Street in the First Floor East Conference Room. Dinner will be provided. If you’re going to attend, it would helpful if you would register in advance. You can do so at: 

https://marylandeducators.wufoo.com/forms/emergency-lobby-night-for-fair-share

If you have TAAAC shirts or jackets, please wear them. If you do not, please wear something orange.

february 22, 2013
STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION INFORMATION

The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County Foundation for Educational Excellence is pleased to announce scholarships to be awarded to students in the Anne Arundel County Public School System. Six scholarships will be one-time awards of $500 for the first year of college. Eligibility for one of these, the Robin Coleman Scholarship, requires a major in science and/or technology. Also, a seventh scholarship, a one-time book stipend of $300 will be awarded in memory of Samual and Bessie Chao.

Download Application Information
Download Application

To qualify as an applicant, the student must:
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or a minimum SAT score of 1500 or ACT score of 20.
  • Be attending a College/University in September 2013.
  • Be graduating from an Anne Arundel County Public High School in June 2013.
  • File a completed application by 5:00 PM, April 5, 2013.
  • Include at least one letter of recommendation, but not more than three letters of recommendation, from a member of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC).
  • Not be a relative of a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Educational Excellence listed below
    Ken Baughman, Susie C Jablinske Thomas J. Paolino, Betty M. Coleman, Bill Jones, Alva Sheppard-Johnson, David Britton, John R. Kurpjuweit, Jim Burns, Christine Davenport, Jane Lunney, Crystal Loetz, and Joseph Cooper.
  • Include an official high school transcript through the end of the first semester of the senior year. SAT or ACT scores must be provided.
    Note: Each section must be completed. Special consideration will be given to those students planning to pursue a career in education. A completed application accompanied by letter of recommendation, transcript, and SAT or ACT score information must be received in the TAAAC office by 5 PM on April 5, 2013. Postmark is irrelevant.

february 15, 2013
Reminder that the MSEA & TAAAC elections and TELL Maryland Survey are now being conducted.

TAAAC has had about 1% of members cast a vote in the MSEA election. Your TAAAC rep should have received the information from MSEA to distribute to you. The only difference this year is the election is being held online. You can go to www.marylandeducators.org to vote. When you get to the page the Election button is on the right hand side (right above the MSEA fund for children button where you can sign up for payroll deduction.) Click it and put in your member number (you can find this on your MSEA card or ask your rep; they have a list) and the last four digits of your social security number as your password. Then you can vote. The deadline to vote is February 25, 2013.

The TELL Maryland Survey is also up and ready. Your principal received an email from regional superintendents about the survey. You do need a code that can be obtained from your principal. Kate Gilbert mentioned to me that principals were asked to give teachers time during the workday to complete the survey. Schools need at least 50% participation in order to receive data from the survey. Please contact the TAAAC office if you have trouble with the survey.

Finally, the TAAAC election is also going on at this time. I am hoping it will be the last election where scantron bubble sheets are used. After reviewing how Howard County and MSEA do with their online results, we will investigate the viability in our local. Please be sure to vote. Bubble in your ballot and give it to your rep. Even though we have no contested races, NEA bylaws state that we must conduct and election and certify the results.

Please feel free to email me or call the TAAAC office with questions. Thank you for all your hard work with our students. I look forward to future communications now that I have learned to use the system.

february 07, 2013
Negotiations

Last evening, the TAAAC Association Representative Council previewed a proposed salary package for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The proposed package was the result of negotiations that have been on-going since October with a self-imposed deadline of February 6th (after suffering a one-time extension) in order to be positioned for the adoption of the Board of Education Budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year scheduled to occur at its February 20th meeting. The general terms of the package are:

  • An across the board increase of 1% on all steps and columns effective on July 1,
  • A full salary step for all Unit 1 employees effective on January 22
  • The addition of Step 26 in an amount 2% higher than Step 25, effective on January 22
  • A commitment to a complete restructuring of Unit 1 salary scales to be implemented in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The delay in the step is due to serious concerns over the level of resources expected from county, state, and federal funding sources. The addition of Step 26 is to ensure that our senior employees get a reasonable share of the package. The restructuring is a necessity if we are to eliminate the multi-year longevity waiting times and return to the days of receiving regular increases.

This preview did not constitute a ratification and there is much left to negotiate, including other priority issues such as workload and healthcare and the term (length) of a prospective Agreement. The teams met again on the day of this update and are scheduled to meet again on February 13th, when they will continue working toward a comprehensive agreement and schedule more bargaining dates in February and March.

TAAAC Election Ballot ˆ CORRECTION

Every TAAAC member should be receiving an election ballot from the AR(s) at their school or worksite.   The instructions immediately above the list of candidates for NEA Delegates contain a typographical error that somehow escaped detection during the proofing process and appear self-contradictory.  They indicate, Vote for Up to Five (15).  The correct instruction is Vote for Up to Fifteen (15).      

january 28, 2013
Negotiations

The negotiating teams have met twice since the last update, January 10th and January 22nd. The teams continued their concentration on salary options but at the close of the January 22nd session had not reached a consensus on a salary package. The primary stumbling block is that the $16.57 million for employee pay enhancements in the Superintendent’s budget recommendation has so far appeared insufficient to provide an amicable settlement. This coming Thursday, January 31, we expect to address the best offer that the Board is willing to make. Barring an unforeseeable obstruction, TAAAC leadership anticipates bringing that offer to the February 6th Association Representative Council (ARC) for feedback. That feedback will guide the negotiating team through the remainder this year’s work. It may also impact what TAAAC members are asked to do in the second semester.

In order ensure your voice is heard, it will be critical to have one or more Association Representatives (AR’s) from your school or worksite at the February ARC to cast a vote. If you happen to work at one of the few sites for which TAAAC has no current AR, please get together with your colleagues and select one. For assistance in that process, contact the TAAAC office.

This type of vote is not a routine part of our negotiating process. It is being held to address communication concerns raised at last year’s ratification and to give direction to the negotiating team. The vote does not equate to ratification. In fact there remains a long list of topics that will still need to be addressed at the bargaining table once we can move on from salary issues. With that in mind, know that ratification is still a long way off.  This vote is nonetheless significant. In light of the work that still needs finishing, negotiations have reached the proverbial fork in the road. This vote is likely to determine the turn chosen.

County Council of PTA News

For the first time that anyone can recall, a local teacher is being sworn in as the new President of the Anne Arundel County Council of PTA’s. On Monday, February 4th, Pam Bukowski will be sworn in, replacing outgoing President Ray Leone. Pam, a longtime community activist also serves her colleagues as an elected officer of this Association. She is one of TAAAC’s ten elected Directors.

A reception will follow at 7:00PM in the Boardroom of the AAPCS Central Office Building for colleague who’d like to stop by and wish Pam well.  

January 18, 2013
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january 09, 2013
Negotiations

Bargaining has continued since the most recent update. On January 3rd, a subcommittee of the negotiating teams spent the entire day together working on salaries and seeking a way to make best use of resources believed to be available and to make a recommendation to the teams in their entirety. The teams are scheduled to meet for another day-long session tomorrow, January 10th, to review the work of the subcommittee. Further sessions are scheduled for January 22nd and January 31st.

To date as anticipated, virtually all of the substantive work has been done on salaries in order to meet a self-imposed deadline.

Deadline

In earlier sessions, the teams agreed to self-impose a deadline for a salary settlement of December 31st. It was the anticipation of the TAAAC team to have at least an agreement on salary (albeit tentative) even though there would be many other items unsettled in order for meaningful supportive testimony to be given before the Board of Education during the public hearings on the budget. As everyone is well aware, we have not yet found sufficient common ground to construct such an agreement.

The deadline is now January 31st, the last negotiation session before the Board’s February 6th meeting and our next Association Representative Council. We have intentionally added two additional bargaining dates onto the original calendar in an effort to meet that deadline.

Progress is being made and we hope to speed up that progress in tomorrow’s session.

Budget Hearing Reminder

Tomorrow, January 10th, the second of two public hearings on the Superintendent’s recommended Budget is being held at 7:00 PM in the Boardroom of the AACPS Central Office BuildingTAAAC President, Richard Benfer will be presenting testimony on behalf of Unit 1 employees. It is also likely that some educators will be there as well to tell their own stories of hardship they’ve endured due to the loss of promised experience steps. Two colleagues gave personal accounts of financial hardships and the necessity of secondary employment that may squeeze them out of the profession, or at least out of the AACPS.

The amount of $16.57 million is set aside for salary and wage enhancements in the recommended budget. We need the members of the Board to understand that any reduction to that amount will only cause us further harm. We are asking available members to join us at tomorrow’s hearing to support Richard and other colleagues who may stand to tell their stories.

To those of you who also wish to give some personal testimony, the sign-up sheet is made available at 6:00PM and testimony is limited to three minutes.

january 03, 2013
New Teacher and Principal Evaluation Tools Drafted

December 26, 2012, was the deadline for local education agencies to submit draft evaluation tool that comply with new state  regulations adopted the meet eligibility for the US Department of Education’s Race to the Top program/experiment.
 
Posted HERE is a copy of the packet submitted by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, along with the requisite cover letter.   

Budget, Negotiations, Long-term Care: December 20, 2012
Budget
The Superintendent presented his recommended budget this evening before a full house, including a delegation of TAAAC leadership.   The total recommended operating budget was $1,013,884,000.  Yes, it broke the billion mark with a $31,741,200 increase over last year (including the Special Revenue Fund which is untouchable to us).  While breaking the "B" line might draw some public commentary, it was really only a 3.1% increase.  A few items were important enough to note immediately in that they have some impact on what's happening at the bargaining table.  They include the recommended level of County funding, required maintenance of effort (MOE), projected amounts of state aid, and the size of the "placeholder" included in anticipation of contract settlements with AEL, SAAAAC, AFSCME, and of course, TAAAC, along with something for the unrepresented units.  Here is the summary of how those items fared:

County Funding:  The operating budget depends on $21.7 million in new funding from the County Executive and Council.

MOE: The minimum lawful level of County Funding is $11.9 million, from which $3.1 will go to pay the County's share of teacher retirement expense, leaving a net of about $8.8 million.

State Aid: Aid from the State is anticipated to be $11.8 million. 

The Placeholder: Set aside for use in negotiations was $16.6 million. (There are more than 10,000 employees.)
 
There are two budget hearings scheduled.  The first is on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at Old Mill High School at 7:00PM.  The second is on Thursday, January 10, in the AACPS Central Office Boardroom.  Please plan on attending at least one of those hearings, and feel free to sign-up and speak. It would be helpful to the Board to hear how the past four years have affected you, your students, or your school.  TAAAC's Vice President, Ken Baughman will be speaking at Old Mill.  President Richard Benfer will give testimony at the Central Office.   
 
Negotiations
Bargaining continues in the morning following this writing.  We also recently scheduled additional dates in January and February.  It remains our objective to either have an early settlement on compensation or to hit the threshold where we know one can't be reached.  We have not lost our way. We are still concentrating on compensation. We are not close.  

When/if we find enough common ground to settle.  It is without question that we will be asking members to help convince the County Executive and Council to fund the settlement with emails, phone calls or testimony.  There is a gap of nearly $10 million between the level of funding necessary and the minimum level that the County must lawfully provide. We could be heading for yet another interesting spring.   
 
Long Term Care

Join former colleague, Michael Markowitz for a webinar on Thursday, December 27, 2012 at either 10 a.m., 2 p.m., or 7 p.m., to learn about your TAAAC-sponsored Long-Term Care Insurance program. This will be an opportunity to learn long-term care can have on your financial future and how long-term care insurance can help protect that future.
 
You will discover not only what long-term care insurance is, but also what triggers the benefits and how a policy is put together. Although premium cost for specific individuals cannot be discussed, there will be general examples of the cost of a policy.

This 30 to 45 minute webinar will be given by a long-term care specialist. You will be able to see the PowerPoint program on your computer and will be able to hear and join the presentation over your phone. You will not have to download anything to your computer.  

To be part of this webinar, RSVP to mike.markowitz@ltcfp.net.

Give your name and your email; preferably a private, not school email.

Indicate what time, 10am, 2pm, or 7pm, that you prefer.

You will then receive a reply giving you a link to click on to access the PowerPoint, and a phone number to access the conference call.

negotiations update: December 07, 2012
Negotiations

Negotiators for the Board and TAAAC met for the fourth time on December 5th to continue discussions primarily on topics related to compensation. While progress is being made, there is little chance of having a settlement by the end of calendar year 2012. There is no news to report on any non-economic topics because they have all been put on hold in order to concentrate on compensation items in time to impact the Board’s budget before it goes to the County Executive in late February. 

The negotiating teams are scheduled to meet for a fifth session on Thursday, December 13th.

Maintenance efforts

The numbers are in. In order to comply with state law, Anne Arundel County will need to pass over to the Board a net $8.8 million after covering about $3.1 million in retirement expenses that are in the process of being passed down from the state onto the local education agencies. In light of comments made by council members Fink and Grasso during the October meetings, it is unlikely that students and teachers will see a penny more than what is lawfully required. 

Education Budget

In its next regularly scheduled meeting, December 19th, the Anne Arundel Board of Education will hear Dr. Maxwell’s proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget. In the absence of a settlement on compensation for employees it is likely that there will be a “placeholder” of some amount in the operating budget. Whatever that amount might be, it will give us a glance at his priorities. Interested educators should plan on attending. In the alternative to being there, the meetings can be viewed on television at Comcast and Broadstripe Channel 96, and Verizon Channel 36. The dates, times, and locations of this meeting and other significant budget events are below.

Superintendent’s Budget Presentation, Wednesday, December 19, 7:00PM, Central Office Boardroom
Public Budget Hearing, Tuesday, January 8, 7:00PM, Old Mill High School Auditorium
Public Budget Hearing, Thursday, January 10, 7:00PM, Central Office Boardroom
Board Budget Recommendation, Wednesday, February 20, Central Office Boardroom

Principal and Teacher Evalucation and Rating

The deadline of December 26th is closing in on local education agencies who seek to implement their own version of principal and teacher evaluations that comply with the new regulations. Representatives from TAAAC and the AACPS have been working to find an agreeable alternative that is more reasonable than the state model yet still in compliance with the state regulations. Our next meeting is on December 12th.

More will follow as progress is made. 

negotiations update: november 16, 2012
Negotiations

The negotiators for the Board and TAAAC met for the third time yesterday (11/15) for what was the first real substantive discussion. The first two meetings resulted in not much that merited reporting. Over those two sessions we modified written ground rules and norms from previous years, made overdue changes to the long standing negotiations procedures, and made edits in contract language in places where the old language was out of conformance with new impasse procedures and where the almost new Public School Labor Relations Board took control of public school negotiations from the State Board of Education.

The significance of yesterday’s session was twofold. It was the final day for the presentation of new topics, and no more can be brought to the table for this year without mutual agreement of both parties. It also marked the onset of discussions on compensation. It should be encouraging to know that both parties recognize the need for some progress on salary improvements. However that does not mean a settlement will be quick or easy. There are always devils in details and there are going to be some robust discussions on what the real level of resources is available and what would be their best use.

These updates will continue as we have information that is appropriate for reporting. Readers must understand that little in the way of details can be released with regularity. We are using a loose form of Interest-Based Bargaining which by its own nature requires some degree of confidentiality. In addition, there is a longstanding provision in the existing Agreement that states the following:

22E. Confidentiality of Discussions

The content of negotiations discussions shall be regarded as confidential. There shall be no public announcement or press releases on the content of negotiations discussions prior to the (1) successful conclusion of negotiations or (2) impasse being declared by the State Superintendent of Schools, unless by mutual agreement.

Proposed State Board School Discipline Regulations Haven’t we suffered enough?

The State Board of Education recently published proposed regulations on student suspension and expulsion policies which would challenge our efforts to create safe schools and a positive learning environment for all students and school employees.

The proposed regulations severely limit a local school system’s flexibility to determine disciplinary consequences for disruptive students. They limit an expulsion and long-term suspension to conduct that is deemed violent or poses a serious danger of physical harm to others in the school. Since there is no consideration of alternative settings, many disruptive students would remain in the classroom setting.

Moreover, these proposed regulations would increase teacher workload by requiring them to prepare and grade work and correspond with students who are expelled and/or placed on long-term suspension. They also could jeopardize the safety of students who may be called as witnesses, subjecting them to peer harassment and bullying.

Ask the State Board to withdraw these misguided regulations.It’s time to get input from educators and local school systems to make sure that these regulations address the intervention programs, relevant professional development, alternative learning programs, and other priorities that we know are necessary to truly make a positive impact on discipline and student achievement.

The most effective emails contain personal stories. Tell State Board members how these regulations would impact you and your students, and how effective discipline policies are critical to creating a safe, positive learning environment for your students and colleagues. Use this link to do so; http://capwiz.com/nea/md/issues/alert/?alertid=62139481. Please provide a courtesy copy to bjones@mseanea.org.

fy2014 negotiations one week away: october 18, 2012
FY2014 Negotiations

For the first time since fiscal year 2009 representatives from the Board and TAAAC will be negotiating on more than just pre-selected topics for re-opening. On this coming June 30, our entire collective bargaining agreement expires. Granted, it is a very mature contract and the task ahead should be less complicated negotiating a brand new agreement with nothing but blank pages waiting to be filled, but we can expect that there will be some significant challenges.

Input Sought

In past years as a whole contracts approached expiration we have sometimes mailed out surveys to assess the priority of common topics. Salary, health care, and workload topped the list every time, but not always in that order. Workload trumped it a few years ago and it showed in the ratification vote for the fiscal year 2009 contract.

This year, such a survey is unnecessary. In the past four years we’ve managed two mid-year 1.25% increases funded internally by the Board, one in fiscal year 2011 following an impasse hearing and one coming mid-year this year that averted another impasse. Changes in health care and in the Maryland’s teacher pension funding have left most of us with less net bi-weekly pay than we had in 2009. The TAAAC team understands clearly that salary is a top priority. Having just worked on health care with much of that work carrying forward into fiscal year 2014, it is logical that workload closely follows salary in priority order.

I would like to use this distribution list to conduct an open-ended survey to solicit suggestions and ideas for some of the other less obvious issues we face, such as substitute coverage, excessive keyboarding time, equity in extra-curricular contracts, leave issues, work environment issues. Please give some thought to what is obstructing you from doing your job efficiently and what might be done to resolve or mitigate the obstruction. Then, forward suggestions to me by Wednesday, October 24.     

Thank you, and we will make every effort to keep you informed as negotiations progress.

TAAAC Reminder: october 11, 2012

For those who may have missed the flyer or procrastinated in their response, TAAAC is providing another free retirement seminar for members specifically targeting those who may be considering retirement in the next five years. 

Please RSVP soon if you know you’re going to attend. Walk-ins are welcome, but RSVP’s do help with the food and beverage order.   

Understanding Your Retirement
Tuesday, October 16th
4:30-6:00pm
Old Mill HS Media Center

The seminar will be presented by Bill Bush, CRP®, Integrated Financial Solutions, Inc., 410-480-0007, www.ifsmd.net.

RSVP to Lisa Roberts at 1-877-225-4374 or listhornIFS@comcast.net.

Reduction in Work Days for Unit 1 Employees for SY2012-2013
 

1. The Board of Education and TAAAC ratified Amendments to the TAAAC Negotiated Agreement, including a two-day reduction of the number of duty days for all Unit 1 employees for SY2012-2013.  The days selected are as follows:

  • High School: October 19 and November 20, 2012.
  • Middle and Elementary Schools: October 19, 2012 and January 28, 2013.

This means that all Unit 1 employees are not required to report to work or attend professional development training.   However, employees may voluntarily choose to participate in training events, conferences, etc., both local and off-site.  Since this is paid time off, additional professional development stipend pay is not authorized. For employees who choose to participate in approved training events that require travel, the normal reimbursement rules and past practice will apply.

2. Teachers are not required to call the substitute system to report their absences on the days indicated above.

3. This reduction in duty days as outlined above ONLY applies to Unit 1 employees.  A similar reduction for other employee groups is under consideration but has not yet been formally approved by the Board. A decision is expected by the Board at its October 10th meeting.

Hopefully, this addresses most of your concerns about this issue.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your Supervisor or Oscar Davis, Director of Employee Relations.

Ratification of Tentative Agreement - september 20, 2012

On the evening of September 18th, 2012, at Hellas Restaurant, the TAAAC Association Representative Council voted by a fairly wide margin to accept the tentative Fiscal Year 2013 Negotiated Agreement.

On the evening of September 19th, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted 7-2 to accept the tentative Negotiated Agreement. Educator-friendly votes came from Patty Nalley, Solon Webb, Nick Lafavor, Andrew Pruski (President), Theresa Milio Birge (Vice-President), Deborah Ritchie, and our new member Stacy Korbelak.

Board members Kevin Jackson and Amalie Brandenburg, explained their respective positions on the Agreement, pronounced their high regard for teachers; then voted in the direct disinterest of those they so highly regarded

During the Board’s discussion there was concern raised of potential reprisal from the County Executive and Council during the FY2014 budget cycle. Our elected officials down at the Arundel Center defunded every penny that was intended to provide salary improvements and demanded that no pay increases were to be given in FY2013. Even though what we managed to pull from scarce resources was little more than a crumb, it was a defiant act in the eyes of the Calvert Street crowd. If that reprisal occurs it will be to the direct injury of students and the educators that serve them. It will be up to all of us; teachers, specialists, educational support staff, and parents to remind those in elected office that we matter and we vote, and so do our friends and families.  

Ratification of Tentative Agreement - september 10, 2012

As of Friday, September 7th, Association Representative packets containing contract ratification materials have been delivered to every school and worksite except as noted below. Please be reminded that the balloting needs to be completed prior to the Special ARC on September 18th, 5:00PM, at Hellas on Veteran’s Highway in Millersville. The results need to be submitted at that meeting or delivered to the TAAAC office in advance. AR’s are free to hold the balloting anytime between today and the 18th.

If they have not arrived by the day of this update, ratification packets are coming soon by basket mail in manila envelopes to the non-classroom cost centers at the Central Office and at the Heritage Complex, and in AR bags to West Meade and Pershing Hill Elementary Schools.

Two questions have been raised by AR’s. Both are answered below:

1)    Is the increase for only one year, or is a permanently on the scale? It has been negotiated as a permanent increase. 
2)    What happens if the Agreement is rejected? Unit 1 employees would almost certainly continue to work under the terms and conditions of employment imposed by the Board on June 20th. There would be no increase, no premium holiday, and no reduction in the number of work days. Bargaining would begin in October for the 2013-14 fiscal year as scheduled.   
 
Please call TAAAC if assistance is needed to hold an election at your school/worksite.

Tenative Salary Scales and Settlement Summary - september 5, 2012

Download 2013 Unit 1 Scales
Download 2012-2013 Tenative Agreement


Ratification of Tentative Agreement - september 4, 2012

TAAAC’s first regularly scheduled Association Representative Council (ARC) will be held at Severna Park Middle School (note the change in location) tomorrow, Wednesday, September 5th at 5:00pm.Among the agenda items are the presentation of the fiscal year 2013 Tentative Agreement and the distribution of balloting materials. 

It appears that tomorrow (Wednesday) is a popular day for back-to-school nights. Sadly, we were unable to schedule around it. To accommodate AR’s who cannot attend, President Richard Benfer will be available starting at 4:30pm on Thursday, September 6th in the TAAAC Boardroom to distribute balloting materials and answer questions about the Tentative Agreement. 

The formal and binding ratification vote by the AR’s will occur at a Special ARC scheduled for Tuesday, September 18th, at 5:00 at a location to be announced. That means there will be only Eight Business Days to conduct the on-site balloting. It is critical that school and worksites receive the packets promptly.  Members can help by:

1. Ensuring that the school or worksite has at least one AR.

2. If possible, ensuring that an AR, and Alternate, or a volunteer who happens to live near Severna Park Middle School or the TAAAC Office can come and pick up the packets at the ARC tomorrow or with Richard on Thursday.

TAAAC will do its share to get the remainders delivered on Friday by courier. It is important that there are not so many remaining bags that deliveries cannot be completed by the end of the week.

Please make every effort to ensure your school or worksite is represented. If your AR is not available for some reason, consider volunteering for this one meeting.
 
The Tentative Agreement does reflect some changes in economic items.

Revenue Cap Update - July 16, 2012

By decision of the Our County Our Future committee members, the petition drive was suspended.  Any of you who have signed petitions in your possession, please forward them to the TAAAC office so the names can be added to our data base. We are looking toward a renewed effort for 2014.

TAAAC Update - July 13, 2012
Negotiations

The negotiating teams from the Board and TAAAC met yesterday (July 12) in what was expected to be the final meeting prior to a filing to the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board for a declaration of impasse. Instead, the parties came within striking distance of a tentative agreement. There are still some details to work through, but it appears likely that we will be putting out a tentative agreement for a ratification vote relatively soon. The specific terms and conditions of the potential agreement cannot be released until those final details are settled.

It is expected that we will complete the settlement by August 23, and we will be putting the agreement out for the customary straw ballot for acceptance or rejection in late August or early September.

As most readers are aware, these negotiations were conducted only on limited reopeners for the 2012-13 school year, which is the fourth and final year of a four-year agreement. The entire Agreement expires on June 30, 2013. With that expiration on the horizon, full book negotiations will begin by October 5, 2012, only a few weeks after the anticipated ratification vote referenced above.

Updates will continue as progress is made.

Board Actions - June 20, 2012

Download Board Actions

 
June 18, 2012: Negotiations Update
Impasse on the Horizon

Negotiating Teams for the Board and TAAAC met today. A week ago, TAAAC presented its best and final offer which included the use of about $7.5 million for salary enhancements. A response from the Board along its own best and final offer was expected today. While not characterized as best and final by the Board’s team, it was explicitly stated as the best that can be offered for now. Sadly, the Board’s offer did not provide a single penny in salary increases. The TAAAC team made it very clear that there will be no voluntary agreement without salary increase.  It is important that members understand the following:

While negotiating in 2009 the topic of furloughs reared its ugly head for the first time since the early 90’s and members lost their step increases for the first time in many decades, perhaps for the first time in TAAAC’s collective bargaining history. Then, it could not have been avoided, county revenues dropped steeply and were insufficient to support the salary scales in place at the time.

BUT, those negotiations resulted in a four-year agreement that gaves something back to members for the lost step. In return for the experience step lost in year #1, salary scales were restructured in years #2, #3, and #4 to effectively return to educators 1/3 of step each year until in year #4 the financial loss of a step would have been recovered. It was a promise made and memorialized in a collective bargaining agreement. As all are aware, none of that restructuring has ever been funded by Mr. Leopold and the County Council. Worse, two more steps have been lost since and a fourth may occur in two days when the Board imposes adopts conditions of employment on us in the absence of a tentative agreement. Unfortunately for all, county revues have not recovered very well.

Year #4 starts on July 1, and year #4 is different from the past three. The Board has the funding to provide at least a modest increase AND they have it in the necessary major funding categories so they do not need County Council approval. The Superintendent is planning to use it to hire more than 120 new educators because the Council would not agree to salary increases. We, your TAAAC negotiating team and leadership believe that a much better use of the money is to fulfill the promise made at the bargaining table.

Moreover, hiring the additional positions instead of paying those that are already here is putting Anne Arundel County in an everybody-but-us position. Counties all around the AACPS are treating their educators better; Montgomery County, steps plus 1% for those ineligible for steps; Howard County, similar to Montgomery, St. Mary’s 1.5%, plus steps; Charles County, double steps. Even Prince George, about the only county government in worse financial condition than our own, set aside $18 million for teacher raises. We can’t allow ourselves to be treated worse than every colleague in the state, especially when the Board has the money this year to do otherwise. Yes, the County Council would not take kindly to our getting a raise. But in this situation, defying the County Council is the right thing to do.

Members Can Help

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education meets at 10:00AM on Wednesday, June 20th. During that meeting, the Board members will reconcile its FY13 Budget and vote on Conditions of Employment for its employee groups who do not have a collective bargaining agreement. It would be helpful if the members of the Board hear from some of the educators they employ before votes are cast. Please take a moment to call or email a Board member and urge them to do the right thing. 

Patricia Nalley, President, At-Large, 410-757-0454, patricia.nalley@aacps.org

Andrew Pruski, Vice President, At- Large, 410-672-6987, Andrew.Pruski@aacps.org

Theresa Milio Birge, District 32, 410-674-5354, teresa.birge@aacps.org

Amalie Brandenburg, District 33 (A and B), 410-980-2165, amalie.brandenburg@aacps.org

Kevin L. Jackson, 410-349-7465, Kevin.Jackson@aacps.org

Eugene Peterson, 301-490-0531, gene.peterson@aacps.org

Deborah T. Ritchie, District 31, 443-534-2660, Deborah.Ritchie@aacps.org 

Solon Webb, District 30, 410-267-0326, Solon.Webb@aacps.org

Jillian Buck, Student Member, 410-271-2944, Jillian.Buck@aacps.org

Feel free to use any of the above information as talking points. Or, share your personal experience and the hardship of sacrifices already made.

 
June 7, 2012
Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Elementary Report Card Update

This message is primarily for TAAAC members in Pre-K through Grade 5 and it concerns recent jointly released memoranda from George Arlotto, Associate Superintendent, and Tim Mennuti, TAAAC President to Elementary School Principals regarding the report card/grade sheet deadline. Two separate memos were released, one regarding Pre-K and Kindergarten, the other Grades 1-5.

The text of the memos is presented verbatim below for the convenience of impacted members. Recipients may not alter the exact language from the jointly issued memos or combine it with any other emails. The first, shown immediately below, was dated May 24th.  The second followed up on June 6th.

June 6th

As you are aware, a memo was issued on May 24, 2012, regarding the grade reporting timeline for the 2011-2012 school year. Teachers were to receive six hours of time to work on report cards as outlined in the memo. Because pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers had already completed their progress reports and parent-teacher conferences by that date, they may not have had six hours designated during their workday to prepare progress reports.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers that did not receive the six hours of time are to be released from any professional responsibilities during the six hours of time that the other teachers are to receive to work on the preparation of report cards. If the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers have received any portion of the referenced six hour period, they are only entitled to the remaining portion. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers may use this time as they see fit and are allowed to leave early if the time is provided at the end of the workday. In the event the Faculty Advisory Council and the principal were unable to agree upon a schedule concerning how the six hours were to be provided or if they were able to reach an agreement and the six hour time period has expired, then pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers will have their workday reduced on June 11, 2012, by the portion of the six hours that they have not received.

TAAAC Budget Update - May 25, 2012

Most recipients of this update may be aware of the decision made by the County Council concerning the Education Budget yesterday (5/24). Although money was clearly available to provide some relief for struggling educators, the Council provided none of it for steps or other salary improvements even though they could have. This year “affordability” did not obstruct the Council from giving back some of what it took from us over the past three years. Rather, they made a conscious choice to fund more positions rather than return some of what they’ve taken away over the past few years.

The Council’s action will have a direct impact on negotiations. The TAAAC team has no intention of settling without some compensation enhancement to return a portion of what has been taken from its members. But the Board will be bullied by the Council not to provide any. If necessary, members may be asked in the coming weeks to particiapte in some activities.

Negotiation sessions are scheduled for May 29th and June 5th. So, we will know soon whether there will be a restful summer and smooth start-up in August; or whether some of the summer will be spent painting signs and scheduling impasse activities.

May 24th
Processing of Fourth Marking Period Report Cards

As you may be aware, TAAAC initiated grievances during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years contending that the timelines issued by AACPS for the submission of elementary school report cards did not comport with the provisions of Article 11K of the Negotiated Agreement, resulting in workload concerns for teachers. AACPS and TAAAC disagree over the interpretation of the term “computerized” as used in Article 11K but agreed to resolve the grievance to avoid the time and expense associated with arbitration. Also, AACPS and TAAAC wanted to define the expectations and parameters of how elementary school report cards would be handled until the language of Article 11K is amended through negotiations or until the process by which report cards are generated is changed. 

As a result of the agreement between AACPS and TAAAC, all elementary teachers in grades 1-5 will receive six hours of time between May 29th and June 11th to complete report cards. The time shall be in blocks of not less than 1 hour during the negotiated work day and shall not be during individual planning time or duty-free lunch time. Each principal will work with the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) regarding how the time will be scheduled. In the event that principals and FACs are unable to agree on a schedule of the 6 hours, teachers will be required to complete the report card process on June 11th. Please contact your Regional Assistant Superintendent or your TAAAC/UniServ Director for questions related to the timeline.M

The week of May 28th, 1 ream of paper and 1 box of AACPS envelopes (or 2 reams and 2 boxes depending on school population size) will be delivered to schools from Central Office.

No later than the end of the work day, Monday, June 11th, the following must be completed:

Final draft of report cards for grades 1-5 must be printed and prepared for distribution. The printed report cards are to be signed by the teachers and the principal. Report cards are to be returned to the teachers, who are to fold the report cards and insert them into the corresponding envelopes with the address showing. Teachers turn in all of their stuffed envelopes with the flaps up to the school office as part of the end-of-year activities. Envelopes should not be sealed; they will be sealed when metered with postage at Central Office.

All completed/signed/stuffed report card envelopes are to be placed in the envelope box(es), flap up, to be returned to Central Office for mailing.

TAAAC Update - May 14, 2012
Budget Hearing Reminder

Today, May 14, 2012 - Old Mill High School. Hearing begins at 7:00, Testimony Sign-ups at 6:00PM, Picketing 6:15PM to 7:00PM. 50% chance of rain during the picketing, bring rain gear

Carry your own sign or grab one of ours. Come in to hear the testimony given by your TAAAC President; then leave when you please.

Grants in Need Available

The TAAAC Foundation for Educational Excellence (TAAAC-FEE), a 501(c)3 corporation, recently got its grant program for education employees up and running. Unit 1 AACPS employees who find themselves in desperate financial circumstances may apply for one-time grants. Application packets made be obtained by calling the TAAAC office or emailing your TAAAC UniServ or BJones@mseanea.org.

Negotiations

Negotiations remain stalled due to the pending budget controversy. Your TAAAC negotiating team believes vehemently that available funding should be used provide some financial relief to our educators that have seen too little in recent years. Depending on their respective position on the salary scale, Unit 1 educators have been on the same step for three to six years and there are members of the County Council who want to extend the hardship to four to seven years despite having the money to do otherwise. At least for now, the best way for members to help is to don something red and attend tonight’s hearing.

TAAAC Update - May 9, 2012
Yesterday’s Budget Meeting

It was clear in yesterday’s meeting in the County Council Chambers that there is reluctance on the Council to use the $12.1 million owed to the school system for long-awaited, much-deserved, and badly-needed pay improvements for educators. Dr. Maxwell was asked to provide a list of alternatives uses and responded with the additional positions as noted in today’s newspaper. Not noted in the article was the clear statement from Dr. Maxwell that the Board has a budget request before the Council that has not been funded – the $33 million in personnel costs – and they are continuing to advocate for its use there, as originally requested.

We need to help by advocating for our interests too. TAAAC members need to remind the Council that educators vote too.  Please spend a small amount of time to support your profession and your well-being by participating.

Monday, May 14, 2012: Old Mill High School
  • Hearing begins at 7:00
  • Testimony Sign-ups at 6:00PM
  • Picketing 6:15PM to 7:00PM.
  • Bring your own sign or carry one of ours, come in to hear the testimony given by your TAAAC president; then leave when you please.

Grading Policy

There are only two days left to submit comments on the grading policy. You will find below excerpts from some of your colleagues who have posted.

"I have, on average, up to 200 students in any given semester. If 20% of them want to “improve their knowledge” before or after school within one week, but they’re all from different sections, are we not really adding an additional teaching period each week? Then, suppose only 5 can show on Monday, 5 on Tuesday, and then the other 10 on Friday after school after work hours have ended? What then? And, what if it a “C” or above, but every student, in an Honors’ class, let’s say, decides they want reteaching and then a chance to improve their grade?"

"I think the language of this particular section definitely needs to be looked at carefully. The logistics all placed upon the teacher, sound like a nightmare."

"The proposed changes are an insult to real education. By design they make administration look better and create needless extra work for teachers. Redo’s and flexible due dates set students up for failure after high school where none of these policies exist in business or college. They also teach students they do not need to study, that it is just a game to them. In practice in the classroom students have proven this by asking when the redo will occur as soon as an evaluation hits the table. This misguided proposal will prove that administration needs to listen to the classroom experts, the teachers, when students start failing college and business careers because of this high school failure. ….Newly retired after due to these changes..."

"On page 4 (5) it states that final semester or marking period exams may not be reassessed.  Why then are we forced this year to give our high school exam in middle school three weeks early to accommodate reteaching and redo’s of that same exam?"

"And how many teachers are truly going to comment?  With fear of retaliation for expressing an opinion that may be different from administration, most of us are simply keeping quiet to save our jobs knowing that our opinion truly doesn't matter."

"Please take me off of your email list, because I haven't been employed by AACPS, nor involved in TAAAC, in almost two years.  I am terribly sad to hear the spin you are putting on the student-centered grading policies listed below. Top schools throughout the country are adopting these policies in support of their students, with successful outcomes.  Take time to read the research. :)  Many students could benefit.  Teachers have no issues adapting to these policies, if they are of a growth mindset. :)"

"After two years at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX it is clear the students do learn more content from the redo policy.  However it takes a lot of time and is a nightmare to keep track of.  I can have 4 different assignments in each of my XX classes.  If we gave our students a limited number of upgrades it allows flexibility in mastering content and still keeps teachers in charge of a structured environment with some deadlines."

"This grading policy is unacceptable.  I have 200 kids.  If 50 of them fail a quiz, who in their right mind expects me to call 50 parents, reteach the lesson to 50 kids, make arrangements to give the quiz again and then regrade those quizzes.  If I make 50 five-minute phone calls, that's 250 minutes (4 hours and 10 minutes).  And, if it takes five minutes to regrade each quiz, that's another 250 minutes. "

"We need to do what is best for our children. If the above creates more work for teachers then the work load needs to be adjusted according to the demands. The current policy kills our children’s’ ability to do what they need to do to prevent themselves from failing. I have found that even though my child has an IEP for extra time do to ADHD teachers refuse to adjust their program to work with her. When I advocate for special education children, 504 children, and those with extenuating circumstances I all too often run into a brick wall. Many teachers go the extra mile to be supportive, helpful and understanding. Even if we do enforce the above I don't believe it will be followed."

"I have implemented several of the policies they are discussing, but work in excess of 50 hours easily, per week in order to provide the extended opportunities for demonstrating mastery, that they are desiring.  "

"The implementation that they are discussing (as indicated in my comments) would extend the amount of work that a teacher must do, by upwards of 30+%."
 
To have your say, please click onto the below link to review the draft and make comment. Comments are being accepted only to May 11, 2012.

Please also forward a courtesy copy to BJones@mseanea.org.

TAAAC Update - May 6, 2012
Grading Policy

The Policy Committee of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education is accepting comments on the new student grading policy under consideration, and time is running out for teachers to make suggestions. Minimum acceptable grades, a prohibition against any assigned grade between 0 and 50, “do-overs” for students, and flexible time limits for in turning work, are all about to be officially imposed, potentially creating yet more workload and more undermining of teacher authority. Please click onto the below link to review the draft and make comment.  Comments are being accepted only to May 11, 2012.

Please also forward a courtesy copy to BJones@mseanea.org.

Rally for Funding

With the recent MSBOE denial of the Leopold appeal on Maintenance of Effort, the County owes the schools $12.1 million. That money can and should be used to fund some of the portions of the Board’s budget request that were not funded on April 15th, such as personnel costs. But Mr. Leopold has not done so. Please come and help support the Council in applying the school funding where the people who run the schools say it is needed. No more loopholes. No more tricks.

Monday, May 14, 2012: Old Mill High School
  • Hearing begins at 7:00
  • Testimony Sign-ups at 6:00PM
  • Picketing 6:15PM to 7:00PM
  • Come spend 45 minutes to support your profession.
  • Bring your own sign or carry one of ours.

Charter Amendment Petition form Anne Arundel County
DOWNLOAD HERE

Dear Reps, Alternates, and Members:

You have all probably heard or read from me all the reasons why the property tax revenue cap should be changed. Whether or not you agree, it would be hard to argue why it should not be placed on the ballot as a simple matter of fairness.

The measure was voted into the county charter in 1992, twenty years ago. Since that time, the county has grown by 26%. Combine that net growth with twenty years of person-specific turnover and the result is a significantly different population now living under that cap than the one that voted it in.

It is OUR COUNTY, OUR FUTURE. Shouldn’t it be the right of every voter in today’s Anne Arundel County to have a say in how the Anne Arundel County is run today?

If you have not done so already, please print a copy of the attached petition, collect what signatures you can, or simply sign one yourself if you cannot find other signators. When/If you gather signatures, please get them in ink and do not forget to complete the bottom of the petition form after you gather names. The date you place on the bottom line cannot be any earlier than any of the signature dates above it.

Then, give it to your building rep to bring to the June 6th meeting or mail it to the TAAAC office at the below address. (In a sealed envelope, basket mail will do.)

If not us, then who?

Charter Amendment Petition form Anne Arundel County
DOWNLOAD HERE

You have all probably heard or read from me all the reasons why the property tax revenue cap should be changed. Whether or not you agree, it would be hard to argue why It should not be placed on the ballot as a simple matter of fairness.

The measure was voted into the county charter in 1992, twenty years ago. Since that time, the county has grown by 26%. Combine that net growth with twenty years of person-specific turnover and the result is a significantly different population now living under that cap than the one that voted it in.
It is OUR COUNTY, OUR FUTURE. Shouldn’t it be the right of every voter in today’s Anne Arundel County to have a say in how the Anne Arundel County is run today?

If you have not done so already, please print a copy of the attached petition, collect what signatures you can, or simply sign one yourself if you cannot find other signators. Then, give it to your building rep to bring to the May 2nd meeting or mail it to the TAAAC office at the below address. (In a sealed envelope, basketmail will do.)

FY13 Budget Update
April 30, 2012

A schedule change since last week’s update has caused TAAAC to switch priority on budget hearings. A rally, complete with informational picketing, is now scheduled for the second of the two hearings rather than the first. Information is provided below.

With the recent MSBOE denial of the Leopold appeal on Maintenance of Effort, the County owes the schools $12 million. That money can and should be used to fund portion of the Board’s budget request that were not funded on April 15th. But given Mr. Leopold’s priorities, the funding may not be allocated in a way it could be used for its intended purpose. Please come and help support the Council in applying the school funding where the people who run the schools say it is needed. No more loopholes. No more tricks. 

Rally for Funding
Monday, May 14, 2012: Old Mill High School
  • Hearing begins at 7:00
  • Testimony Sign-ups at 6:00PM
  • Picketing 6:15PM to 7:00PM
  • Come spend 45 minutes to support your profession.
  • Bring your own sign or carry one of ours.

Schools Win, State Finds Leopold Violated Law
Download pdf for details

TAAAC Update - March 22, 2012
Revenue Cap Update

On Wednesday, March 21, at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Board of Education voted to support the petition drive to put the proposed charter amendment on the November ballot. The action was short of taking a position of either support or opposition on the proposed amendment itself (to modify the existing cap on county revenue generated by property taxes) but the action did recognize the value in letting voters have a look at the consequences of the 1992 referendum that implemented the cap and decide whether a reasonable modification is appropriate.

The discussion during the public session became quite contentious. But when the question was finally called, the motion passed with a 5-3 vote with one Board member absent. In that any less than 5 "yea" votes would have caused the motion to fail, we owe some gratitude to every Board member who voted correctly. Yea's came from Eugene Peterson (who also made the motion), Vice-President Andrew Pruski (who seconded), Solon Webb, Jillian Buck (student member), and President Patricia Nalley. Nay's came from Theresa Birge, Deborah Ritchie, and the newcomer, Amalie Brandenburg.

Please be reminded that petitions are available for download and circulation at (Download This Petition). We ask that TAAAC members print these petitions and secure signatures from friends and family; then get them to the TAAAC office (in original form, not fax or electronic). Voters should have an opportunity to be educated regarding the consequences of the 18 year-old revenue cap. The situation for public education and public educators cannot improve until the County improves its revenue effort. If our elected officials won't do it, we have to.

MSEA Election News

The MSEA elections did not successfully select a new Vice President. A run-off is required between frontrunners Cheryl Bost and Wanda Twigg. A number of locals have contacted the N&C Committee indicating their school systems will be closed from April 2 through April 9 for primary elections and spring breaks, leaving no one in the buildings to receive the ballots.   Accordingly, the time period for the run-off election has been modified as follows:

April 10th, Ballots will be sent to the schools and online balloting will open.

May 11th, Ballots due to be RECEIVED at the Private Mail Box in Annapolis by 5:00PM and online balloting ends.

TAAAC Update - March 8, 2012
Negotiations

The parties met as scheduled on March 6th, 2012.  No settlement was reached and scant progress was made. Much discussion centered on compensation. While there is a fiscal year 2013 salary in place on paper, it is a virtual certainty that the County Exec's budget will not provide the funding for it. He is obligated to present his recommended budget in mid-April. Other than multi-unit discussions exclusively on the topic of healthcare, no new negotiation dates have been set. It is anticipated that there will be one or two more sessions before there can be either a settlement or a declaration of impasse.

Healthcare Negotiations

Healthcare negotiations last year left two items unfinished. Those items were:
Agreement on a maximum fund balance level to maintain in the reserve that pays our health care claims.
Determining a method of returning at least some portion of amounts above that balance to employees.

A date for all four employee organizations to return to the bargaining table with the employer in order to finish that work was set recently. TAAAC, AEL, SAAAAC, and AFSCME Local 1693 will be join representatives from the Board on March 28.

These negotiations will have no impact on the settlement from last year. Coverages and employer/employee premium splits will remain in the current proportions. The difference is that we intend to find a method of giving some of the "change" back to employees after the bills are paid.

Revenue Cap Update

Our sister organizations (AEL, SAAAAC, and AFSCME Local 1693) have joined the revenue cap effort. Over the past three weeks the governing bodies of all three organizations have voted to assist in making the current revenue cap a bit less harmful than it has been. The organizations presented before the Board of Education during its March 7th meeting and support for the effort will be up for a vote at its next meeting.

Coming over the few days from this email address but through a much slower service will be copies of the single-sided petition for everyone's use. For us and our students, this petition drive is more about working and learning conditions than it is about property taxes. We hope that everyone will collect at least a few signatures and return them to the TAAAC office or give them to their TAAAC Rep. We are still many signatures away from getting the issue on the ballot.

Association Representative Council / DATE CHANGE

Due to the spring break the April 4th Association Representative Council has been moved to Wednesday, April 11th, at the usual place and time, Severn River Middle School at 5:00PM.

TAAAC Update March 2, 2012 (Volume 2)
Leopold Indictment

During what will be a very contentious budget cycle, a legislative session that may be worse, and an uphill battle to modify a revenue cay that's been choking county revenue for 18 years, another item of great interest is thrown into the mix.

John Leopold has been indicted on five counts of misconduct from accusations ranging from using county police to help with his campaign to driving him to sexual rendezvous in Annapolis-area parking lots. It also accuses Leopold of stealing his political opponent's campaign signs, forcing police officers on his security detail to empty urine from his catheter - among other personal errands - and using cops to conceal a sexual relationship with a county employee.

Check the entire story at:

CLICK HERE FOR STORY
VIEW INDICTMENT PDF

Or at:

VIEW WJZ VIDEO

TAAAC Update - March 2, 2012
School Funding

Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is a state law designed to protect the quality of our children's education by discouraging local governments from shortchanging our schools and students. Recently, weaknesses in how the law was written have been abused and nearly seven of Maryland's counties have slashed per-pupil funding—some by nearly 30%.  Our own County Executive has been one of the primary offenders. By revising his budget for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 to include tens of millions of dollars of debt service into the MOE calculation he cheated the MOE law by including monies that the school system never actually received and could not spend. By doing so, the county failed to meet maintenance of effort and the penalty under the current law (incredibly) falls to the school system and not to the county. That penalty (about $3.8 million) is included in the Board's fiscal year 2013 budget request.

House Bill 1412 (HB1412) has been introduced in the legislature. It fixes flaws in the current law. If passed in its current form it will obstruct the circumventions of the law such as Mr. Leopold and others have attempted. It will provide:

  • Predictability and consistency of funding.
  • A mandatory waiver process if a county ever funds below MOE.
  • Authority to override artificial revenue caps.
  • Explicit prohibition against the inclusion of debt service.
  • A fixed penalty to ensure that school systems are made whole to MOE levels if a county falls short and fails to receive a waiver.

Our schools need the comprehensive MOE fix that HB1412 provides. Contact your elected officials today and ask them to support HB1412. The simplest way to do so is the click the following link: CLICK HERE.

The most effective emails contain personal stories. Tell elected officials how school funding cuts have affected your school and students, and how further cuts from not fixing MOE would affect the quality of our children's education.

Effort to Modify the Revenue Cap

Directly suppressing school funding is Anne Arundel's 18 year old revenue cap under which all public services including education suffer. Other organizations are joining in the effort to modify it. On February 22, the Executive Committee of the Association of Educational Leaders voted unanimously in support and signed petitions have already begun coming in. On February 27, by wide margin, the general membership of the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County contributed its support. Tomorrow, March 3rd, Local 1693 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees will hold its vote. Presuming they vote similarly to TAAAC, AEL, and SAAAAC, we will be going to the Board of Education at its March 7th meeting with a unified employee voice, "…our schools need this…."

To help the cause, please do what you can to get signatures on our petition. Petitions can be obtained from your TAAAC representative or downloaded here. If you do nothing else, please sign a petition circulated by a colleague.

Download This Petition

Miscellaneous

We are looking for feedback, positive or negative, from members who moved from the Preferred Provider Network (PPN) to the Triple Option Plan (TOP). Please drop a brief email to BJones@mseanea.org to comment on recent service.

Calls have come in from a few schools criticizing the fact that teachers having to pay for their own lunches at the Arlington Echo events. Please keep in mind that in most cases those day-trips are contrary to the collective bargaining agreement in two ways. They illegally extend your work week (unless special arrangement are made and agreed to) and they work you through the duty free and unpaid lunchtime. If you must dig into your own pocket as well, you might want to reconsider giving up your time for free. Please call TAAAC for assistance.