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Dear Members,

As I mentioned in previous EFocus newsletters, we have set aside time on Monday, Aug 10th for members to meet in solidarity and share your vision at the first annual HEA Member Convention (10:30-2:30).  This is the start of a year-long process as we reflect on the impact of the education system on our students’ lives and assess how we can transform ourselves and our systems in ways that uphold our antiracist values. 
Use this  registration form to sign up for any or all sessions that interest you.  My apologies for the short notice if this is the first you are hearing of this. 

We will be digging deep to examine our core values as an antiracist organization.  Throughout the rest of the school year, we will continue to meet to align our values with our goals and our efforts!  Please come be part of the conversation and discover new ways you can make this union stronger for all members, our students and our communities!  Please mark your calendar with these future meeting dates:  October 5, December 7, March 1, and June 7.

As we transition into August you may be feeling  (much like me) that your summer has gone too fast or even passed you by.  I encourage you to continue grabbing any moments of bliss you can find with your family, friends, and pets.  We are truly in this together and must work to keep each other strong during these strange and uncertain times.  Please know, through our solidarity, times will improve and we will be back together with each other and our beloved students.

Stay safe! Stay healthy! Stay tuned!

Remote Learning Family Survey.  If your household sends a student to the Highline School District from PreK through age 21, please share your thoughts with HEA on the district’s remote learning plans using this quick survey.  This survey was sent to MLK Labor union members last week as well as to HEA building reps.  On Friday it was sent to all WEA members living in Highline.  Please complete it only once.  Approximately one quarter of HEA members reside inside the school district boundaries, and about a third of all Highline households have a union member!  Results will be used to shape bargaining, organizing, and communication efforts in the coming weeks and beyond.   

Impact Bargaining Planning.  Based on member surveys, listening sessions, and focus group results, we developed the following belief statements which are guiding our efforts and prioritizing our time:
•    We believe that starting schools safely means not holding instruction in-person.
•    We believe our first priority should be the emotional well-being of students, which includes relationship-building with students and their families as well as community-building with our classes.
•    We believe that members should have options that meet their needs.
•    We believe students with higher needs should have more options for instruction.
•    We believe that strong partnerships with families will increase student motivation and success for learning.
•    We believe that staff should have free access to buildings within the parameters required to maintain a safe and healthy work environment (e.g., protocols, mask, social distancing, etc.) and in compliance with state and local health requirements.

Impact Bargaining Tentative Agreements.  HEA and HSD are continuing productive conversations about new models of instructional design and delivery in the coming school year.  One of the outcomes we are focused on is providing clarity on expectations around and supports for synchronous and asynchronous instruction.  We have already agreed that staff will be allowed voluntary access to materials and work in schools in accordance with and adherence to safety and health protocols.  In addition, we made some slight adjustments to our previous agreement on the work year calendar; those will be posted on the district website as soon as possible. 

Because we have a shared interest in centering relationships with student and families and getting technology into their hands, we moved the three waiver days from November to the beginning of the school year. The relocation of days was designed to help students gain equitable access to instruction by providing time to connect with families, build connections with students, and also to prepare ourselves to develop engaging and meaningful learning experiences using new approaches.  We have been assured that work coming from the district’s Whole Child Task Force will provide members with resources and ideas to continue this process once remote instruction commences.  As the HEA impact bargaining team continues to work with the district to set expectations for how teachers will center students’ social-emotional health and learning, we encourage school shared leadership teams (SLTs) to do the same with administrators and prioritize this in your buildings.  And please remember, your shared leadership team is charged with collaborating with your principal on the use of DID.

You may also have seen on district email that we have reached agreement on early access to professional development, if you desire, between August 17-21. Once you have completed the required PD on those dates, you can take the equivalent time off (up to 10.5 hours) between September 3-8 in exchange. Or, you can attend the trainings on the September dates, or opt for a combination of the two. Based on this model, attending required PD in August will not provide additional pay, but provides members with "comp time" instead. 

Finally, we have reached agreements on availability of leaves (and alternative assignments).  Please contact Human Resources for help with your individual needs as you gain clarity over work expectations for the coming year.  The impact bargaining team will meet next on Wednesday. We have several topics remaining to negotiate, including support and mitigation for special education services, evaluations, as well as some issues related to technology requirements.

If you have not yet seen the district's current thinking for the coming year, please access it on the Distance Learning webpage.  On August 12 at 6:00PM, the school board will review the district's plan.  Please submit your comments by noon on Wednesday, August 12th to Kyle Minaglia for them to be shared with the board directors and entered into the public record.

Open Bargain Update.  Your HEA bargaining team has been continuing to work hard throughout the summer on our full bargain.  This is separate work from the impact bargain and is happening concurrently with a subgroup of bargainers from both teams. Most recently, the teams worked on the following topics:
1.    Recruitment, retention and stability for our Black, Indigenous, and other members from historically marginalized communities along with related equity considerations for our students, families and communities;
2.    Special Education Committee recommendations and subsequent CBA implications;
3.    Teacher/educator leadership pathways, including the role of peer mentors;
4.    ESA considerations and member workload needs, specifically; and
5.    Dual Language workload issues and related member concerns.

The joint team has added additional bargaining dates to their August schedule because there are still a number of important issues to consider prior to the start of the school year, including compensation. Given enrollment, costs associated with the pandemic, the state’s current economic situation, and the impact of all this on the state and district budget, there is an unusually high degree of financial uncertainty making this year’s full bargain particularly challenging. 

General Membership Meeting.  We are aiming for impact bargaining and open bargaining contract ratification at a general membership meeting to be held September 2, the day before school starts (time TBD).  The meeting will be held virtually, which will be a new experience for all of us.  Details are still being explored as to how to present, debate, and vote on the agreements reached.  Thank you for your patience and flexibility in advance, and please watch for more details here, as we return to our weekly EFocus format.

Tech Levy.  The school district has placed a technology levy on the November ballot.  Due to expiring school taxes, even with the levy passing, property owners will still see a reduction in their property taxes.  These funds will help meet the urgent need to support students and teachers with distance learning resources.  Watch for ways you can help later in the fall both with campaign donations and voter outreach.  In the meantime, please direct friends and family to the Highline Schools Foundation for contributions that will help boost student access to the internet.