NTA Negotiations Update #5 2019-2020

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DISTRICT AND NTA SIGN TENTATIVE AGREEMENTS ON THREE MORE ARTICLES
Clarified Transfer Procedures; New Safety Protections; and New Technology Article

NUSD BUDGET UPDATE: $2 MILLION IN CUTS OR ADDITIONAL REVENUE NEEDED
Structural Changes Needed to Avoid Continued Deficit Spending
And Potential for County Office Intervention  

This is Newark Unified School District’s (NUSD) fifth Negotiations Update for 2019-2020 contract negotiations between the District and the Newark Teachers Association (NTA). The District will distribute the Negotiations Update after meetings with NTA to inform our community on the progress of negotiations.

Productive Sessions Continue BUT NUSD Reminds NTA of “Respect” Ground Rule

Bargaining teams for NUSD and NTA held their fifth and sixth negotiations sessions for the 2019-2020 school year on September 18 and October 7, 2019. These full day sessions continued to be productive and efficient. 

Due to recent public statements by NTA leadership (not a member of NTA’s team) attacking the value, contributions and continued participation of a District negotiating team member, the District reminded NTA of one of the parties’ joint Ground Rules:

“Regardless of the level of intensity and/or emotion and/or commitment related to the subject matter under discussion at any given time, members of both bargaining teams pledge to be courteous and respectful in speech and in manner at all times, and to attack the issues and not each other or each other’s constituencies.”

The District expressed dismay at the attack on one of its team members especially because the tone at the bargaining table has been courteous and respectful and the parties have made significant progress in reaching agreements, primarily to proposals initiated by NTA. 

The District stated that issues remaining to be resolved have economic impact; this makes it even more important for the parties to maintain their agreed upon negotiations decorum as the discussions may naturally increase in intensity.

Highlights of the meetings, by subject area, are as follows:

Tentative Agreement on Reassignments/Transfers: The parties agreed to a revised article clarifying procedures for changes in assignment, including elimination of a divisive process that called for unit members to partake in placement decisions involving their peers.

Although NTA had already agreed to the District’s proposal prior to the October 7 session, the Association instead made a new proposal calling for more changes. Often such action will lead to claims of “regressive” or “bad faith” bargaining by the other party, but this did not occur. Instead, due to the trust that has been built at the table, the District listened to NTA’s new concerns, concluded that they had merit, and made a counterproposal that NTA agreed addressed its concerns.  The new article includes the following:

  • An opening statement of purpose: “The intent of this article is to set forth clear and transparent procedures to be followed when a vacancy exists. Voluntary transfer and reassignment procedures do not apply when no vacancies exist. This means there is no “open bidding process” for positions that have already been filled.” 
  • Changes in assignment shall be made in the following order: voluntary reassignment, involuntary reassignment or transfer, and voluntary transfer. The District would retain rights to make administrative changes in assignment for specific reasons.
  • Vacancies will be emailed to all unit members and no longer posted at sites.
  • Prior to making a final involuntary reassignment decision, the site administrator will meet with impacted unit members and the NTA site representative to review contract criteria to be applied in making this decision.

Both parties agreed the new article is a step forward for all concerned.

Tentative Agreement on Safety: The parties agreed to changes proposed by NTA to clarify and strengthen language defining a “safe working environment” for unit members, including heating, cooling and ventilation systems in classrooms and any other location intended for instructional use. 

Tentative Agreement on New Technology Article: The parties agreed to this new NTA-proposed article, the purpose of which is stated as:

This Article addresses the reasonable and equitable access of unit members to technology that may be required by the District to fulfill the members’ duties and professional responsibilities, including providing effective instruction in the evolving technological classroom. 

NUSD BUDGET UPDATE: $2 MILLION IN CUTS OR ADDITIONAL REVENUE NEEDED

The Interim and new Chief Business Officials for the District attended the morning session to update the parties on the state of the District budget based on the “45 Day Budget Revision for 2019-2020” presented at the August 1st Board meeting. Major points raised were as follows:

  • The District continues to deficit spend (expend more each year than the revenue it receives each year) to the tune of about $2 million. This shortfall must be addressed or the District risks County Office of Education intervention to fix the problem.
  • If compelled to eliminate this deficit through reductions in certificated staff, this would amount to between 20-25 positions.
  • This level of cuts is not a preferred option, as it would be disruptive (to say the least) to students, educational programs and the employees who provide them.
  • Instead, the District should consider innovative and creative strategies for raising revenue such as the sale, lease or exchange of District schools/property and the construction of fewer new schools that house more students and staff and provide them with modern facilities and technologies.
  • The District recognizes the vital importance of attaining and maintaining competitive salaries to attract and retain quality educators and staff. Unfortunately, however, the current budget shortfall must be addressed before this interest can be addressed immediately and a long-term strategy must be put in place to generate more revenue to go to employee salaries in the future.

NEXT STEPS: Negotiations will resume on October 22, 2019.