December signals that we’re in the home stretch of 2016. I hope all of you enjoyed some time with family over the Thanksgiving break. Please keep up your amazing work engaging, supporting, and educating our kids. The holiday break will be here before you know it!
I know there are lots of questions about 3A and 3B, so I thought I’d dedicate most of this issue of the Communique’ to addressing those.
3A – Raises
The passage of 3A in November will provide an additional $8 million in new revenue for operational uses such as salaries, staffing, curriculum, technology, transportation, and facilities upkeep. The funds will also rise with inflation and we have them for the next 7 years. After that time, we will need to go back to the voters and ask them if we can continue to receive them.
Some have wondered why they haven’t already seen a pay raise in their checks. Simply, the reason is that these funds are not available to the district until after January 1, 2017.
We are working toward making pay changes in the late January paychecks. This will easily be the largest increase in compensation Eagle County Schools employees have ever received.
The exact system of allocating the funds is being negotiated between the administration and representatives of the Eagle County Education Association. I am pleased to report that we have reached a tentative and preliminary agreement that the Association. More detail is on the way, but I am not at liberty to disclose more at this time.
Per our Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Association’s members will need to ratify the agreement, which they plan on discussing next Monday. Also, the Board of Education will need to approve it and we plan on taking the agreement before the Board on December 14. Finally, the Board will need to approve a revised district budget to reflect the new revenues and expenditures and we expect that to happen in early January.
Once these steps are in place, we can then work through our payroll and human resources systems to execute the pay changes.
As is our tradition, whatever is agreed to for the teachers, we also take steps to extend an equivalent compensation change to our hourly support and administrative staff. As was noted in the ballot language, senior district administration will not be provided any increases from 3A funds.
3A – Staffing Changes
3A also includes funding for additional staffing. However, due to where we are in the calendar, it makes little sense to try and add staffing now for the current school year.
Also, we would be out-of-cycle with traditional education hiring (which takes place in the spring) and the talent pool is likely to be quite shallow.
We are considering adding some key building positions at this time, but those decisions are being highly scrutinized.
Looking ahead to the 2017-18 school year, I expect us to be able to make some positive progress in staffing levels in buildings. Any dollars we save for this purpose now will be available for next school year and beyond.
3A – Other Key Areas
3A also included language around such things as expanding preschool programs, curricular purchases, technology, transportation, and facilities upkeep.
All of these areas are currently being looked at for changes both for this school year and beyond. It is safe to say we will be making some significant improvements in all these areas.
3A Citizen Oversight Committee
Ballot question 3A included the creation of a Citizen Oversight Committee to review expenditures related to these funds and report back to the community. If you know someone (a non-school district employee with accounting/finance expertise) please send them this link to apply to be part of the committee.
3B – Update
In anticipation of 3B passing, we already put contracts in place with architecture, engineering, and construction firms. Employees and experts from these firms are already working in Eagle County on planning and design and we expect to start making improvements and breaking ground as early in 2017 as possible.
EVTV on Inclusion and Diversity
Check out this great video from the students at Eagle Valley High School, talking about the value and importance of inclusion and diversity at their school. Proud of these kids!
Vail Daily Articles
My article from 11.22.16 focused on the changing political landscape at Colorado’s State Board of Education and what that may mean for our state’s schools.
The article from 11.29.16 looked at our transportation safety systems, in light of the school bus tragedy in Chattanooga. Props to Melanie McMichael for helping me with the article!
Critiquing President-Elect Trump’s Nominee for Secretary of Education
On my personal blog, I was fairly critical of President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, billionaire Betsy DeVos from Michigan. I wrote an open letter to Senator Bennet and Senator Gardner about my concerns with this appointment. I did hear back from Senator Bennet’s staff and have some plans to meet with them when I am in Washington next week for a separate event.