Dear Members,

For those who were unable to attend yesterday’s all-member meeting, here are the important details:

  1. Three Executive Board positions were unanimously voted in, as the nominees were running unopposed. Kathy Butler (President, incumbent), Michele Wickman (Secretary), and Cassity Stroud (Parliamentarian/Bylaws).
  2. Exciting news about Collective Bargaining! SEA is partnering with the local firefighter’s association (Stafford Professional Firefighters Local 4012) in our campaign for contract negotiations. We’re going to work together over the next year, gathering support from stakeholders and the community. SEA had a fantastic meeting with their leader last week, discovered many common issues between us, and brainstormed a lot of ways we can unite to bring Collective Bargaining to Stafford County. We’re incredibly excited about this partnership. You won’t just see red over the next year; we’re going to be red and yellow.
  3. Our UniServ director, Robin Gardner, announced that she has accepted a transfer to Virginia Beach. Though devastated to see her go, we are so incredibly grateful for the unwavering support Robin has provided to the educators of Stafford County. You’ll be missed, Mama Bear. Put your toes in the sand for us.

    As we move into serious campaigning for contract negotiations, membership is more important than ever. While collective bargaining will be a game-changer for our contracts, only SEA members get to vote on contract ratification. You can help the cause by encouraging new educators (or friends who haven’t joined yet!) to become members.

    Here’s a PDF that gives a pretty good visual description of what collective bargaining can do for us. No more “other duties as assigned”. How about a guaranteed duty-free lunch? Reduced class sizes? These things, and so much more, can be written into our contracts if we get the School Board to agree to collective bargaining.

    Stay tuned for the next steps on bringing contract negotiations to Stafford. And we hope to see you in RED next Tuesday.

    Sincerely,

    The SEA Executive Board

    Last night, the Board of Supervisors held several public budget hearings, including the tax rate, the budget, and the Capital Improvement Plan (buildings, maintenance, repairs, etc.). The good news is that the BoS is committed to funding Dr. Taylor’s proposed salary increases. However, the BoS is not committed to fully funding the School Board’s budget request (see 1:51:34 in the video of their meeting) Dr. Taylor’s request for additional funds consisted of raises for licensed and non-licensed staff, and an additional 12M to essentially “keep the lights on”–do exactly what we did this year, with 600 more kids (projected growth for next year). The BoS has voiced support for this. However, the School Board added these two important items to the final budget request, and they’re what the BoS is saying “no” to. Dr. Taylor’s detailed description of these line items, as presented to the BoS, can be viewed beginning at 55:15 in this video).

    Materials and supplies: 1.35M for classroom supplies (to be distributed needs-based by school)–this is what Dr. T would tackle if he could, because we are “nickel and diming” our parents with school supply lists. We all know the unfortunate reality–educators end up buying supplies for their own classrooms.

    Capital Outlay: 2M for maintenance and repairs. This will help build the 3R fund over time and allow us to get to some of the bigger maintenance issues in our schools. Good budgeting practice would have us keeping roughly 2% of our assets in savings for repairs and maintenance (3R projects). This would be about 15M-20M every year. However, up till now these things have not been funded through the budget, rather taken out of debt service. It makes much more sense to add small chunks to the operating budget and grow our 3R fund over time. Dr. Taylor stated this would be the responsible solution, and “honor our commitment to taking care of the assets that we have”.

    Funding the school is about a lot more than pay increases. Stafford County ranks 118 out of 132 divisions in per-pupil-expenditures, despite being among the wealthiest counties in the country. If we want to see real change in our division, the BoS needs to begin investing in schools again. We cannot continue to do more, with less.

    The county administrator’s budget is based on a tax rate of 88.5 percent, which would result in a roughly $37.50 monthly increase for the average homeowner. While we’ve been assured the Superintendent’s budget (not the School Board’s) will be funded either way, reductions to this rate will result in the county reducing raises for their own staff, and cutting requested additional positions (see the discussion at 2:02:20 in their meeting). In other words, if they lower the tax rate, we’ll still get our raises–but at the expense of other county employees.
    Keeping these details in mind, here are the two important items to advocate for:
    • Ask the BoS to fully fund the School Board’s budget request. We are confident in the raises; we need to advocate for classroom supply funds and maintenance/repairs funds.
    • They need the to set the tax rate at 88.5 cents. Stafford County needs as much revenue as it can get.
    Here’s what you can do to help:
    • Show up at the meeting on April 19th. Speak if you’re willing to. Historically, a room full of red goes a long way towards getting the School Board’s budget fully funded.
    • Email BoS members between now and April 19th to advocate for these things.
    Crystal Vanuch, Rock Hill District, cvanuch@staffordcountyva.gov
    Pamela Yeung, Garrisonville District, pyeung@staffordcountyva.gov
    Monica Gary, Aquia District, mgary@staffordcountyva.gov
    Meg Bohmke, Falmouth District, mbohmke@staffordcountyva.gov
    Tom Coen, George Washington District, tcoen@staffordcountyva.gov
    Tinesha Allen, Griffis-Widewater District, tallen@staffordcountyva.gov
    Darrell E. English, Hartwood District, denglish@staffordcountyva.gov

    February 1st  SEA MEMBER ONLY meeting with Dr. Taylor to get an overview of the budget. If you have questions or clarification about the budget, Robin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Please see your e-mail for the link.

    We will take a membership vote after the presentation on whether to support his budget.

    February 2nd  SEA Collective Bargaining Training – How to talk to members/nonmembers about collective bargaining and the process moving forward? Nonmembers are welcome to this because it will take everyone to get us to the table. https://veanea.zoom.us/j/81496490932?pwd=WURVd3BONlVva2J3NnUwcHpxREVTdz09

    March 31-April 2nd  VEA Convention – Virtual There is still plenty of space available for you to be a SEA Delegate to the convention. Want to draft an NBI to help you in your profession? Want to have a say in what VEA focuses on for educators? Sign up to attend and have your voice heard.

    Have you asked your colleagues to join SEA? As we start to prepare for our card campaign for bargaining, the more members we have, the quicker we get to the bargaining table. https://forms.veanea.net/view.php?id=39481

    Things are happening every day so reach out and let us know what you need and how you want to be part of the union.  

    In Solidarity,

    Kathy, Laura, Christina, and Jenn

    Dear School Board Members, Dr. Taylor, and SEA Members,

    On Tuesday, January 11th, SEA distributed a survey to all SCPS employees. We asked for position, building level, and two simple questions:

    1. Do you support the current policy requiring masks for everyone in SCPS schools?
    2. Do you support the current policy requiring masks for everyone in SCPS non-school buildings?

    We also gave staff the option to provide additional comments. Over 1700 employees responded to this survey, preceded in precedent only by the Wellness Days survey from earlier this school year. That amount of participation speaks to the level of employee concern over this topic.

    As you can see from the survey results, SCPS employees overwhelmingly support masking for all in both school and non-school buildings. In fact, merely 22% of employees did not support masking in any SCPS locations.

    Multiple school districts across the Commonwealth have publicly indicated that their mask mandates will continue to be enforced for all, including but not limited to Richmond, Alexandria, and Henrico.

    SEA has already received nearly 50 reports of staff intending to resign in light of the Governor’s announcement, and we anticipate this number will climb through the remainder of the school year unless sufficient mitigation strategies are enforced for all.

    Numerous staff and students across the county are battling serious illness, autoimmune disease, undergoing cancer treatments, or are otherwise at extreme risk from COVID-19.

    The health and safety of SCPS staff and students should be prioritized with the continued enforcement of CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. Anything less knowingly puts the entire division at risk.

    Sincerely,

    Kathy Butler, SEA President

    Michele Wickman, Data Consultant

    Robin Gardner, SEA Uniserv Director

    Richmond Education Association made history last Monday when the school board voted for collective bargaining 8-1.  I watched as educators hugged each other realizing they would have a say in their contract.  It’s time we bring the movement to Stafford. You had signed up for information on collective bargaining previously, so I wanted to reach out to you.  Are you ready to commit to bringing collective bargaining to Stafford?  It won’t be easy, and we need people dedicated to the movement.  If you are interested in being a part of the change sign up to attend the meeting on January 12th at 5:30pm at my office, 1127 International Parkway, Suite 117 Fredericksburg, VA 22406. 

    If you’re ready to work to bring change to SCPS, sign up here!  https://forms.veanea.net/view.php?id=675005

    In Solidarity,

    Robin

    The SEA wanted to give you an update of things that have been going on behind the scenes.

    The Executive Board met with Dr. Jones, Patrick Byrnett, Chris Fulmer, and Lisa Boatwright on 11/29/2021.

    At this meeting, we brought three major concerns to the table.
    1. The employee code of conduct- SEA asked that it be repealed until the educator’s bill of rights is adopted with the code of conduct. Patrick Byrnett will be taking the bill of rights to the SCPS governance committee.
    2. Concurrent teaching- SEA shared the survey results that showed wide discrepancies across the district. SEA has shared Prince William’s concurrent teaching pay scale. Dr. Jones and Robin Gardner are set to follow up on December 6, 2021.
    3. SEA asked for a seat at the table with the Finance and Budget Committee. (FAB) SEA believes that educators need to have a say in the budget that is approved. Chris Fulmer will work with Dr. Taylor on this when he starts on December 1, 2021.
    4. SEA President, Kathy Butler stated that it is CRUCIAL that employees are looked after, and their needs are met. She game multiple examples of how educators are broken due to the demands and that we work together to make sure there isn’t a mass exodus in the Spring. All parties agreed and monthly meetings will happen with Dr. Taylor, SEA, and cabinet members to make sure that all employees’ needs are met.
    In closing, we are asking that all of us stand together. These past 2 school years have been the hardest on all of us. The dam is cracked, and if we as educators allow it to crack even further, it WILL come down. We cannot allow that to happen. We have all worked too hard to keep it together, and that’s what we plan to do: keep it together.

    In solidarity,
    The SEA Executive Board

    We will have an ALL MEMBER MEETING on Wednesday, September 1st. It will be from 5:30 – 6:30, and it will be virtual.

    AGENDA

    • Covid leave
    • Action network emails
    • Bylaws and elections
    • Building reps
    • Membership Liaisons
    • Concurrent Compensation Mode
    • Questions

    Have a question to submit? Please check your e-mail for the question link as well as the Zoom link for the meeting.

    SEA has been working on many items behind the scenes. A COVID leave policy was brought before Dr. Kizner and Patrick Byrnett. We anticipate it becoming policy for this year soon.

    The EXEC board is aware that staff are being required to concurrent teach. Robin Gardner has spoken with VEA and is currently trying to get more clarification. 

    We will also be having an All Member meeting on Sept 1 at 5pm. The link will be sent out through Action Network. Please be sure to check all your personal email accounts, in spam and promotions folders. We want to make sure the information is getting to you all!
    I want to tell you all thank you. Thank you for your patience as we try to navigate having full buildings. Thank you for everything you do each and every day. We are all valuable cogs in the wheel, and without just one of us, it won’t work as well. I am thankful for each and every one of you.

    Kathy Butler

    The SEA hosted a Town Hall with Dr. Kizner and the heads of HR and finance for SCPS on 5-13-21. Questions were submitted in advance via the SEA and were answered in this forum. Here is the video in case you missed it.