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 In this Issue:  Remote Options, BSTs, Sub Rotation, SLTs and Budget Cuts, The Rap on Vaccines, “Vaccination Leave,” Training, MOU Enforcement, Safety Committees, Looking Head…Standardized Testing

March 12, 2021

Dear HEA Members,

Joy, anger, resolve, anxiety, gratitude, sadness, relief, pain, isolation, togetherness—the paradox of life and of schooling at this moment in time was brought into stark relief this month.  With all my heart, I believe it was critical for us to forge a shared membership experience, one which confirmed for our members that not every narrative parallels our own.

We heard first hand that some of our members are hurting and there remains so much more to learn from them about their stories.  The individual solutions the union is able to offer, at best, are like bandages on a broken heart.  Some of our members’ families are hurting and their experiences mirror those of many of our students.  The path we will take together in order to thrive as union members and employees of Highline remains unclear. The one thing that is clear is that we must listen to and learn from each other if we are to remain strong and to remain relevant to ALL our members. 

We do know that on Thursday, several scores of teachers and additional support staff began the in-person journey back into our schools.  Parents in each neighborhood elected to send their children back into buildings.  Many educators are still coming to grips with why they made that choice.  As our union leaders have the task of listening to our members and their responses to a return to buildings, I encourage you and your teammates to understand the sentiments and motivations of your colleagues and our students’ families in sending their children back to in-person school or remaining remote.  

This step is critical since this morning, Governor Inslee announced an Executive Proclamation ordering school districts to provide an in-person schooling option for all students, through grade 12, by April 19. We are in the process of working with WEA to review the Order itself and will begin discussing the implications with HSD administrators on Monday morning.

COVID-19 has presented us with challenges and choices that no one should be forced to make.  Ultimately, however, the majority of impacted educators made their wishes known and the membership responded. We are committed to supporting our members and ensuring whatever we face next, we face together.  

My sincere thanks to you all,

HEA President

Requests for individualized assignments/volunteer solicitation.  Please express your appreciation to members from Central Office who are volunteering to fulfilled members requests for remote assignments or leave up until April 19.  That could not happen without the solidarity of our specialists who are allowing those members who need it more time to remain out of buildings.  It’s not too late to volunteer to support hybrid teachers and spend some time with our amazing students. If you were denied the option of working remotely, reach out to your principal, HEA building reps, and/or HSD Human Resources to explore your options, if you have not already done do. Please feel free to copy Sandy or Elizabeth if you reach out via email.  

BSTs: New Avenues for Organizing.  If you are action-oriented and want to support the voices of rank and file members in our association, please join the Bargaining Support Team (BST).  This group will help support two-way communication within your group, program, or building in order to listen to and activate members.  There are also opportunities to support action in your service area and across the district by volunteering for the BST Steering Committee.

Emergency Substitute Rotations.  In line with the Addendum approved by the membership on Monday, the following options are available:

  • Members placed on their building’s substitute rotation list may request that their principal not require them to substitute in-person until April 19.
  • Members may access their sick leave (either as personal leave or emergency leave) to avoid substituting if/when they are called in prior to April 19.  
  • The Central Office substitute coverage pool will be accessed when needed to cover in buildings.

Please ensure that your SLT has had input on your in-person substitute rotation plan.  

Shared Leadership Teams.  In addition, budget season is upon us and SLTs are within their rights to be a part of that discussion. Here is the district message if you have not seen it yet:

  • Highline is facing a budget shortfall for 2021-22.
  • Together with principals, the district has identified ways to reduce expenses.
  • In order to prevent staff reductions to the extent possible, the district will be reducing building budgets for 2020-21 starting now.
    • For secondary schools this includes carry forward, 0200 Non-Staff Supply Funds, Clinic, Counseling, Extra Service (certificated and classified), Library Funds, Assessment Support, and Fine Arts.
    • Some schools have sufficient funds to cover their cuts and will have a remaining balance. For those without a balance, they will not reduce below 10% of the 0200 allocation. This will leave funds available for the remainder of the school year.

The Rap:  Vaccination Education was never more engaging!

Accessing EPSL for Vaccinations:  If you need to access a substitute on a workday for vaccination, use daily illness to request a substitute.  Once you receive your injection, send a copy of the documentation to Laura Castaneda.  She will convert the leave to EPSL, if you have any remaining.  If you have an adverse reaction to the vaccine that requires you to stay out an additional dayyou may use EPSL for that day, also.  

Are YOU fully trained?  Please review this matrix to identify the required trainings all staff must complete prior to working in-person with students.

MOU Enforcement (with your help)! If you experience a safety violation, report it to both HEA and Admin COVID Co-Captains and your HEA building rep(s) immediately.  The Building Co-Captains will work together (or bring in Chris Larsen from HR if needed) to problem-solve.

Building Safety Committees.  District leadership has directed committees continue to meet to address urgent concerns.  Per state law, school safety committees, assisted in our case by HEA COVID Co-Captains, are charged with problem-solving issues in their buildings and, if L&I requirements are not being addressed, they have the authority to report violations directly to L&I.

In addition to collaborating with Co-Captains and Safety Teams, administrators have been directed to keep their HEA reps, their SLT and the whole staff apprised of the following timeline:

  • March 11 and/or 12    Connect with Co-Captain (s) to debrief and reflect on any “hot spots” needing immediate attention.
  • Week of March 15    Review Safety Plan and opening days with Safety Team.
  • Communicate and review any changes to the plan
  • March 22 and/or 23    Connect with Co-Captain to debrief and reflect on any “hot spots” needing immediate attention.
  • Week of March 29    Review Safety Plan with Safety Team – any adjustments after operationalizing to 2nd and 3rd grade? Communicate and review any changes to the plan.
  • April 1 and/or 2    Connect with Co-Captain to debrief and reflect on any “hot spots” needing immediate attention.
  • Week of April 5    Review Safety Plan with Safety Team – any adjustments after operationalizing to PreK-5 grade? Communicate and review any changes to the plan.
  • Week of April 19    Review Safety Plan with staff – reinforce expectations. Review Safety Procedures with students. Connect with Co-Captain for feedback on implementation after Spring Break.


  • 3/14@2AM Daylight Savings Time (spring ahead)
  • 3/17 Live School Board Meeting @ 6:00PM District Headquarters (Live and on Zoom)  Sign up by noon to speak in person.  For those attending by zoom, all School Board comments are due to Kyle.Minaglia@highlineschools.org by NOON (Please keep them under a 4-minute read.)
  • 3/19 NO SCHOOL
  • 3.26-Mock RA Meet to prepare our Rainier UniServ WEA RA Delegates for the Representative Assembly held April 15-17 with a preliminary session on April 1.
  • 4/5-HEA Rep Council Meeting@4:30 on Zoom.  Members can contact HEA Secretary Katie Utesch at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting to receive the link.
  • 4/7- School Board Meeting@6:00PM Live at Central Office and Virtual. (Zoom link posted on district website.)  See above for details.
  • 4.10-4/18 Spring Break

Standardized Testing in 2021.  With the return of students to buildings, we should not be surprised that our legislators, in particular Senator Patty Murray, are doubling down on standardized testing (ELPA, SBAC) as a means of evaluating “student learning loss.”  WEA and NEA continue to advocate for a suspension of standardized testing for this school year. Please consider writing Senator Murray with your thoughts as an educator and/or parent.