California Educator

November 2015

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REDDING CHARTER FILES BANKRUPTCY DESPITE SURPLUS e Academy of Personalized Learning (APL) in Redding filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in October, less than four weeks after showing a $225,000 surplus in the latest financial reports to its chartering district. e charter school is also facing charges that it ille- gally fired nine highly qualified teachers, three of whom served on the executive board of the Academy of Per- sonalized Learning Education Association (APLEA), the newly formed teachers union. Teachers at APL unionized last year to advocate for their students with- out reprisal and improve teaching conditions. "APL is now running up exorbitant legal fees and contemplating bankruptcy to defend its actions in ter- minating highly qualified teachers, rather than meeting the needs of students, conducting themselves within the law, and treating its teachers fairly and respectfully," says Candy Woodson, one of the teachers who was fired. During negotiations, APL claimed money spent on "pending litigation" and legal fees was contributing to financial difficulties. part to help us promote educational excellence here in the Savanna School District," says SDTA Co-President Penny Cronin. SDTA credits the district's financial philosophy in helping to reach a competitive settlement. By rejecting the stockpiling of district funds, and following a practice of retaining no more than 6 percent reserves, SSD was able to effectively meet the needs of all stakehold- ers in the community. EASTSIDE TEACHERS IN LANCASTER PROTEST Eastside Teachers Association (ETA) members in Lancaster turned out in force Oct. 26 to rally before a school board meeting on the eve of state mediation. e Eastside Union School District's last offer would extend the work year by three days and provide a modest salary sched- ule increase — which would be negated by the extra days. ETA objected, arguing their salaries still lag behind neighboring Los Angeles County districts while administration costs remain high. Although no settlement was reached through the next day's mediation, the organizing efforts are having an impact at the table. Another medi- ation session is scheduled for Nov. 30. "Although the mediation has led to some productive discussion, we have some school board members who have since been tremendously disrespectful, suggesting that teachers who are unhappy here should just leave," says ETA President Stephanie Price. "at's not what our members want, it's certainly not what the community wants, and we're going to keep up the pressure and achieve a fair settlement." VISTA TEACHERS CAST STRIKE AUTHORIZATION BALLOTS Vi s t a Te a c h e r s A s s o c i a t i o n ( V T A ) m e m b e r s a r e f i g h t i n g t o m a i n t a i n their health benefits. They 're also pressing the Vista Uni- fied School District (VUSD) in San Diego County to make teacher salaries compet- itive so that Vista will be able to retain its highly qualified educators and attract needed new ones. Early this month, more than 500 V TA m emb ers gath ered for a strike autho- r i z a t i o n v o t e . T h e b a l l o t i n g c a m e i n response to district of ficials' obstruc- tionism that has resulted in two failed state mediation sessions. District officials " have made virtually no movement in their offer since last year," says V TA President Tod Critchlow. Official vote totals were not available at press time, but Critchlow says straw polling indicates "overwhelming support for our bargaining team and their work thus far." VTA will hold a third mediation session with VUSD on Dec. 14. SAVANNA TEACHERS, DISTRICT REACH SETTLEMENT On Oct. 27, the Savanna District Teachers Association (SDTA) rati- fied a settlement reached in contract negotiations with the Savanna School District (SSD) in Orange County. e terms of the three-year agreement include a change in the evaluation procedure for permanent employees. Changed from an every other year cycle to every three years, it also allows administrators to focus their energy on sorely needed support for new teachers who are being hired in increasing numbers. e agreement includes a retroactive pay increase of 3 percent, beginning July 1, 2015. is pushes teachers' top earnings to $109,224 and keeps SSD salaries competitive near the top of the 12 comparable elementary districts in Orange County. "By putting the needs of students and teachers in the forefront of the process, our two teams have done their The SDTA bargaining team, from le to right: Lisa Jack, Barb McIsaac, Penny Cronin and Susan Broscow. VTA President Tod Critchlow checks the meeting roster before the strike authorization vote. 43 November 2015

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