School employees look for ‘calm settling year’
By Maureen Robertson
In her first Ramona Teachers Association report to the school board, Cori McDonald told trustees she is looking forward to communicating regularly with them and the superintendent, and that teachers are “happy to say goodbye to the past year of stress and move forward doing what we love — and that’s teaching the students of this community.”
McDonald, a Ramona High School algebra teacher, introduced herself as this year’s RTA president at the trustees’ July meeting, saying she also has taught at Olive Peirce Middle School and attended Ramona schools as a student.
“Teachers are happy that an agreement has been reached for the upcoming school year,” she said. “We are also optimistic that an agreement can be reached for the ‘14-15 school year.”
RTA presidents traditionally spend 20 percent of their time on union business. Teachers negotiated that years ago, agreeing to take a little less salary in exchange for the district paying for the 20 percent release time for RTA president, said Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann, noting that was negotiated years before the current administration.
The district had a different agreement with RTA’s last president, an elementary school teacher who devoted 40 percent of her time on union business, meaning she was out of her classroom two days a week and another teacher was hired to share the teaching assignment. The district paid for the additional 20 percent and for the additional teacher, said Ostermann.
Prior to that, the RTA president was a speech therapist who spent one day a week on union matters.
McDonald, who had been teaching five classes a day, opted to have four classes a day so students in those four classes will have her 100 percent of the time.
“I felt it was better for my students to have more consistency,” rather than have a different teacher in the classroom one day a week, she said, explaining she had that option as a secondary teacher.
In lieu of having a fifth teaching class, she will spend 20 percent of her work day on union business.
The district does not pay for any release time for Jim King, president of the Ramona chapter of the California School Employees Association who also serves as CSEA Area K director for the 52 chapters in San Diego and Imperial counties. If the union president has to attend a conference either for the local chapter or Area K and misses work because of it, the district bills CSEA at the state level, said Ostermann.
CSEA represents the school district’s support staff such as bus drivers, teacher aides, office workers and campus supervisors.In his report to trustees this month, King said he is looking forward to “a nice calm settling year.” Referring to the past year’s at times contentious negotiations with RTA, he said, “sometimes you have to go through things like this to grow a little bit, but I know the classified employees would like to see everything go smoothly from here on.”
- Ramona trustees approve shorter school year
- District, teachers settle on two-year agreement
- School employees start school year at convocation
- School workers agree to 9.5% cut, more later
- Ramona school district forecasts deficit next year
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