NOTES ABOUT THE DISTRICT
Most of the last few weeks, I have had single-topic columns with several that have covered multiple weeks of information. As we returned to school from the holiday break, I thought I would cover several topics in brief fashion in this week’s space! The topics are varied but cover topics of current interest.
The District has been engaged in negotiations with each of the employee groups within our system. All contracts and employment agreements in the district expired on June 30, 2017, and were subject to renewal.
Three employee groups, teachers, paraprofessionals and principals, are recognized through the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) as formal bargaining units. These units go through a more formal negotiation process.
Other groups of employees are not formal bargaining units. As such, the district is not required to “negotiate” with them, but the School Board likes to use a process where these employees are given opportunity to meet with the District Negotiations team to share issues and concerns, and then the Board team develops the employment terms and conditions. These employees include our classified, non-licensed group (cooks, custodians, cleaners, secretaries, health technicians, and a few other employees) along with our program managers and individual administrators.
The process started by opening negotiations with the teacher association. The first meetings occurred as the school year finished and have continued through the fall. Because the teachers represent the largest group of employees, it is often important for the School Board to reach an agreement with this group to help set the parameters that will be applied to other employee groups.
At present, the district and teachers have gone into mediation to try to reach an agreement. The teacher association and district have reached tentative agreements on many language issues and are trying to reach agreement on financial terms. Financially, the district and teachers are still quite a ways apart. One round of mediation has been conducted with another set for January 25.
Negotiations with other employee groups have started to unfold as well. The District team is very close to a final agreement with the principals. A meeting is set for January 18 and could be the time to finalize the details.
The process with paraprofessionals has just started. The School Board members have met twice with the paraprofessional team. The first meeting included a proposal on many issues from the paraprofessional team. The School Board offered responses to the proposal at the second meeting. The teams meet again on January 23.
The School Board team has met with individual administrators to hear their thoughts, ideas and concerns about their employment agreements. The District Team is working on proposals for the administrators. When the exchange is complete, those agreements will be finalized.
The School District team still needs to meet with the classified employees and the program managers to hear their ideas and concerns.
The ROCORI District has been making a concerted effort this school year to share quite a bit of information through social media processes. The District has accounts with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These tools are being used to share highlights about district activities and success.
Over the past few years, feedback from parents and constituents has been that social media methods are important means of communicating. In response to the feedback, ROCORI has been making an effort to post and publicize information on the social media sites.
Feel free to check out the information and postings about district events, academic work, classroom accomplishments through the Social Media apps/tools. Search for the ROCORI School District or connect on Twitter with #ROCORIPROUD. There is a lot of information posted by individual teachers, coaches and advisers to programs, and various resources across the district!
MSBA WINTER CONFERENCE
The end of the second week in January is traditionally the time the Minnesota School Boards Association conducts its annual Winter conference. The event, as you read this, was just conducted on January 11 and 12.
The conference is held, annually, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. School Board members and district administrators from across the state gather for professional development, training, and learning. The conference includes large group sessions as well as smaller group, breakout sessions for more focused learning.
The theme of the 2018 conference is Student Achievement: Passion, Perseverance, and Possibility. The keynote speakers include Mark Lindquist on the topic of “Eight Steps to Reignite Your Passion to Lead” and Manny Scott on “The Power of One: Perseverance and Possibility.”
Board members Lisa Demuth and Lynn Schurman are scheduled to attend the sessions this year. I also regularly attend the training. We will bring back ideas and information to share with the rest of the School Board and within the District.