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May 3, 2020

School Board, Extra Change, Impact Bargain, Substitute Teachers, HEA Elections, HEA Donations, Contracts, Teaching Certificates, Grants, Previously Shared Resources

Dear HEA Members,

May 1 was International Workers Day for much of the world; what the US calls Labor Day.  This year more than ever it is clear that unions play an important role not only in bargaining a fair wage but also negotiating the way work is carried out.  Your democratically-elected union leaders and our staff members are at the forefront of this work, collecting and communicating the shared wisdom of our members to improve the lives of members and their students.  We take this charge seriously when working with administrators, the school board, OSPI, state and federal legislators and the US Department of Education and use every means at our disposal.  Ideas and links for ways you can individually and collectively support this work are included below.

As we begin to look at next year, please know that your union leaders at all levels (HEA, RUC, WEA, and NEA) are advocating for solutions that will allow us to provide essential services in a safe and equitable manner….Why?...Because who is more knowledgeable when it comes to meeting the needs of our students than the educators, teachers, counselors, social workers, ESAs and others—including our classified staff—who have direct contact with the children, young adults, and families in our communities. 

I share this today because I truly appreciate each and every one of you who are reaching out to me, your Executive Board members and your Building/Program Reps.  On Monday the Rep Council will be holding our May meeting by Zoom.  We will spend part of the time in break out rooms in order to learn more about members' needs, concerns, and ideas.

Later this month, a union leader will be inviting you to participate in a one-on-one interview to learn more about how we can build stronger connections with institutions and organizations in our community. With our economy likely shifting into a period of shrinking resources, we believe an important action we can take is integrating our union and schools into the community safety net to ensure our students are safe, well-cared for, and learning.

As things stand, your union membership and the advocacy it affords have never been more important.  We must use our privilege as represented workers to ensure that our district, state, and national education systems meet the needs of our students and families and, moreover, ensure the advantages of representation are expanded so that safe, well-compensated jobs are available to all members of our community.

Please continue reading to find more ways you can be involved and support this work.

In solidarity,


Please take time for yourself and for your loved ones…ask for help if you need it… offer to help if you can!

HPS School Board 5/6/20 Meeting. See the elected officials who make decisions and policies that impact our work and our schools in action.  Live public comment will not be available for virtual board meetings, but your comments, questions, or concerns are welcome. If you wish to address the Board, please email your statement to Kyle.minaglia@Highlineschools.org by noon on the day of the meeting--May 6, 2020.  Zoom online meetings begin at 6PM via ZOOM; Password: 264987 or dial in 1-669-900-6833 Webinar ID: 971-4714-8550.

Also, you may wish to mark your calendar for two tentative sessions: the May 9 Board Retreat (starting at 9AM) and the Climate Survey Data Board Work Session on May 13 (5:30-6:30).

Extra Change for Extra Change.  In honor of International Workers Day, consider making a special one-time donation to our very own political action fund.  State and national 2020 elections are in full swing and, WEA PAC can make a huge difference for our families, our students and our profession. With such a large number of Washingtonians facing difficult financial circumstances right now, a strong PAC fund balance will return a lifetime of benefits when pro-education candidates are elected.   Over the years, our PAC has allowed us to build a pro-education legislature that passed the McCleary Promise.  Use this link to make a special donation for 2020 of any amount to help us continue the fight for full school funding as we seek racial justice and economic equality for all.

Impact Bargain.  HPS and HEA met this week to analyze the impact of state special education service and documentation requirements on our special education teachers and ESAs.  A Q&A was released based on that discussion, and principals have been asked to excuse Special Education team members at their site from as many building-based duties as possible.   Our next session is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 so please watch for more guidance later this week.  General Education teachers can support our colleagues by providing accessible, differentiated assignments to their students.  Your LRC and ESA colleagues are available to help through email, phone, Zoom, etc., however, they are not required to attend weekly department, grade level meetings or PLCs beyond their own. 

We are moving into week 8 of 14 of crisis teaching.  It is imperative that if you do not have the flexibility you need to do your job, reach out to your administrator.  If that has not worked, or you are not comfortable doing that, please contact your HEA Reps and cc me.  HEA and HPS have committed to supporting the health and well-being of our workforce, our own families and that of our students.  The union has also signaled to HPS administration that we are eager to begin discussing what our working conditions might look like next year.

Substitute Teachers.  This week, the WEA Board of Directors created a crisis fund for members who lost employment or whose hours were reduced as a result of the COVID 19 school building closures.  Please watch for an email from WEA.  Members must complete an application form in order to be considered for the funds.

HEA Elections.  Voting for open positions on the Executive Board will be by electronic ballot during the week of May 11-15.  Watch your personal email for a Special Addition of the EFocus.  HS teachers still have time to nominate themselves for HEA Executive Board HS Representative position.  Candidates will be given the opportunity to share a 2-minute speech at the May 4th Rep Council zoom meeting at 4PM and can submit a 75-word candidate statement for the electronic ballot by May 6.  Nominations open, close and will be voted on for five one-year positions on the Rainier UniServ Council.  All candidates will also have the opportunity to make a 2-minute speech.  Please email Debby Strayer and sign in by 4:30PM on May 4th to run for both of these openings.

HEA Donations.  You may have heard that, unfortunately, 50% of working US households have at least one member who has been laid off or had their hours reduced.  In recognition of this catastrophe, this week the HEA Executive Board approved a donation of $2,000.00 from our crisis fund to the White Center Community Development Association’s Covid 19 relief fund.  A donation of $1,000.00 each was also made to the Highline Schools Foundation for the Highline Scholar Athlete Scholarship fund and to the WEA Children’s Fund.  This follows a $5000 donation made to four area food banks earlier in the spring.  More substantial donations will be considered at the May Representative Council meeting as we look for other ways to support our community. 

Contract Renewals & Resignations.
  Contracts for school year 2020-21 went out this week and generated a lot of questions for those working in special assignments. In response to inquiries about the change, HR has responded, “The assignment that is listed on your contract will be Non-Supervisory Certificated Staff member.  We have updated the assignment to account for employees with multiple positions as well as allowing staff to receive one contract for their full FTE.”  Please be assured that while your individual employment contract now reflects your legally and contractually designated bargaining unit, the rights and responsibilities associated with individual job assignments have not changed as a result.

You must sign and return contracts electronically within 14 days; if you do not, it is considered a resignation and will be reported to the School Board as such. This may feel disconcerting to those of you who do not yet know your building, content, or grade level assignment for next year or who have underlying health conditions or live with someone who does.  Signing and returning your contract is the only way, however, that you can be guaranteed a position in HPS for next year.  Please be assured that HEA will work diligently to address your needs with HR should you be compelled to withdraw your commitment due to changes in your personal situation.

Certificate Renewal Extension.  HR sent a “courtesy email” to members whose Continuing Teacher Certificate is scheduled to expire on 6/30/2020.  As a result of building closures, the recertification deadline has been extended by one year.   For those whose deadline is this year, however, you may no longer receive HR reminders.  Additional information and application forms are available on the OSPI website and the OSPI certification phone number is 360-725-6400. 
HR has asked that if you have already renewed your certificate or have upgraded to a higher level certification, submit a copy to the Human Resources Department, 15675 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, WA 98166 so it can be placed in your personnel file.   Human Resources can best be reached by email at this time.

COVID-19 Response Member Grants. With school closures impacting millions coast to coast, the NEA Foundation (NEAF) has been inspired by the many ways that educators are going above and beyond to meet student needs. This pandemic also has exposed the pervasive inequity associated with public education in America.  In response to educators’ immediate and emerging needs, the NEA Foundation is offering three new grant opportunities to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning.  A full description of these grant opportunities, including related criteria, guidelines, and timelines, can be found at their website.

The NEA Foundation is proud to stand with educators at this time by offering these opportunities to members:
•    COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants (to be awarded during the Spring and Summer, 2020)   Applicants requesting this funding should be prepared to begin their projects during the Summer 2020. 

•    COVID-19 Response - Learning & Leadership Grants (to be awarded in September 2020) will support educators’ professional development focused on adapting to the unique challenges of the 2020-2021 school year.

•    COVID-19 Response - Student Success Grants (to be awarded in September 2020)  will support educator-led initiatives that increase educational equity and opportunity, responding to student needs that emerged or intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resources Shared Previously:  
•    WEA PD is typically free and comes with clock hours.
•    HPS Coronavirus Staff Hub page provides resources for all Employees.
•    HPS Community Resources can be accessed on the district website.
•    HPS Tech Support has created a webpage for tech support for families.
•    Washington Law Help provides free legal advice and is available in multiple languages to WA residents. 
•    SoCo Culture serves as a clearing house for more than 70 arts and heritage organizations throughout South King County by sharing the cultural events, exhibits, classes, volunteer opportunities, auditions/artist calls, and other aspects of the cultural life of our local communities.