February 1, 2021
The SCEA Negotiations Team met in mediation with Administrative colleagues and two School Board members for 7+ hours on Friday 1/29. Progress was made but we have not yet arrived at a tentative agreement (often referred to as a TA). Additional documents/proposals were requested for later this week and another mediation session has been set for Sat. 2/13.
For those new to the process, once a TA is achieved, it would be brought to the Executive Board and then to membership for a ratification vote. In addition, the SCEA Settlement Team has been formed and is meeting this Wednesday February 3rd to add details around timelines and actions should we need to take more organized steps to secure a fair settlement for all members.
January 20, 2021
As we gather for our January SCEA meeting we wanted to share an update once again about where we are in the negotiation process. We want to acknowledge the frustrating nature of a protracted negotiation process and thank you for your understanding and patience.
We met as a SCEA bargaining team on the morning of January 15th followed by an afternoon meeting with members of the admin team as well as two board members. Those present were Superintendent Lansfeldt, Cindy Gustafson (New Director of HR), John Thein (New Finance Director), Vanessa Norby (District Accountant), Katie Hockert (newly seated School Board member) and Tina Riehle (board member).
Given the new participants in the room, we started by sharing where we have been in this process and the perspective of our membership. We emphasized the growing frustration experienced by our members while ensuring we desire to continue our partnership and collaboration with the district in the upcoming levy and bond requests that will be critical to the fiscal stability of District 834.
We reviewed all the financial components again to the district again emphasizing the urgent nature of bringing a fair settlement back to membership. Our conversation included some creative components to bring the entire financial package to a place comparable to districts that surround us.
The district spent time discussing our proposal and came back without a response, citing a need to convene the school board in a closed session to discuss further the financial components and implications of our offer. This happened on Tuesday, January 19th at 5:00 pm. At this point we don’t yet know the outcome of that meeting. As a reminder, the previous board set financial parameters for this process. With a new board seated, this is a reasonable next step and we believe they should be allowed the opportunity to speak into this process.
Moving forward, we are prepared to assemble a settlement committee after we understand the outcome of the closed school board session. Our local union leaders have applied for and secured matching grant dollars from Education MN. ED MN will cover 80% of the cost incurred to the union. These dollars can be used to expand and focus communication, unify members, and organize as we focus our efforts to come to a settlement.
We have another mediation session scheduled for January 29th, 2021. We continue to be in communication with district leadership and remain open to meeting prior to this date.