Rebuttal to District “Response to Request for Additional Furlough Days”

Rebuttal to District “Response to Request for Additional Furlough Days”

Concerned citizens attending the school board meeting on June 18,2012 were presented with a written Response to Request for Additional Furlough Days from the District.  The following is our rebuttal to the District:
Furlough days must be negotiated with the teachers’ union. 
Of course the district cannot unilaterally add more furlough days, but the contract can be renegotiated if both sides agree to do so. In fact, the teachers’ union most likely would approve an agreement for more furlough days, since all of them participated in the District’s Budget Teaching Session survey and voted for 10 furlough days by a margin of 8 to 1.

 

Adding [furlough] days would not necessarily provide back to the system precisely what some are advocating to restore.
The additional days could be negotiated through a Memorandum of Understanding to restore precisely what the district and the teachers’ union agree they should restore.

 

The contract agreement to take 5 furlough days in 2012-13 and 4 four in 2013-14 was ratified by over 95% of the teachers’ union. 
False.  The actual approval rate was 81%.  Only 1,800 of 2,100 eligible members actually voted.  There is a logical fallacy being deployed by the District.  Just because the membership approved 5 furlough days does not mean they would not also have approved 10.  They were never given the option.

 

Furlough days and other compensation concessions are not sustainable.  Continuing down this path will impact who we are able to attract, hire and retain in the future when better economic times return. 
Furlough days are clearly the most sustainable way to ensure that positions will be available for staff recruitment when better economic times return.  It’s easy to add school days back to the calendar when funding improves, but it’s difficult to add back positions that have been cut.  In addition, laying off teachers instead of taking furlough days is causing us to lose world-class staff members that have been working for and trained by the district for years.  Furlough days are sustainable as long as there is a will to sustain them.  A short negotiation with the teachers’ union to renew them each year as needed will ultimately lead to better results.

Tax levies are also short-term fixes, in no way more “sustainable” than furlough days.  The voting public will support levies only if they perceive that the District is making good use of funds and a good faith effort to listen to public input. This year, the District has failed to do either.

 

Non-sustainable reductions have a cumulative effect.  The more non-sustainable the budget, the more that has to be reduced in the long run.
Based on an assumption shown to be false above, the District is throwing out meaningless, unsupported, over-generalized statements.

 

We know our community values instructional time.  By repeatedly taking furlough days, we are not providing our students with the time for teaching and learning…they need.
Our community DOES value instructional time, but the new programs being instituted by the district actually reduce instructional time, especially at the elementary level, where nearly half of the student population is enrolled.  Next year, rather than being instructed by licensed teachers, elementary students will spend hours each week being supervised by instructional assistants (19.9 new staff positions) during media and technology “class.”  The IAs are not certified teachers, and are not even required to have a college education.  By law, the IAs will not be allowed to teach the students, only supervise (babysit) them.  The amount of time that students will spend being supervised by IAs averages to 11+ days of lost instruction time over the course of the academic year.  So much for the Board’s claim of preserving instructional time!  We fear the public is being tricked into thinking that children are getting an education during school time when they are really going to be warehoused in study hall for hours a week.
We hope you will join us in advocating at the state level for adequate and stable funding for K-12 education.
This final statement reveals the ultimate contradiction.  The District says we need to be “sustainable” and live within the revenue we receive from the state.   But the funding provided by the state is not “sustainable.”  Everyone knows the funding we are given isn’t enough to properly educate our children.  Why pretend?  We can’t just wait until next year and hope that the state gives us more money.
We need to focus on what we can do NOW for the 38,000 students in our district.  Additional furlough days would bring back valuable, proven programs and help mitigate increases in class size.  Whether we add furlough days or simply avoid starting new programs, we call on the district, board, and teachers’ union to all come back to the table and fix the budget this summer—before students return to school in September to find their education gutted.  

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