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Ballots Are In The Schools

response to the article in the ledger

Thursday, April 16

At yesterday’s School Board Work Session there was a discussion about the state’s budget and the argument occurring between the FL House and Senate regarding the Low Income Pool (Expansion of Medicaid). Board members Hunt Berry and Lynn Wilson brought up concern regarding the impact this might have on available dollars in Polk’s budget next year. They both stated that they were unsure if, given this unknown, they could vote for the contract. They did not say they would not vote for it merely that they were unsure of how they would vote.


Please know that we believe there is ample money to afford the negotiated raise! We know that even if the District is sent less money from the state than anticipated, there is a very strong indication that there will still be an increase in education spending in the state budget. The Superintendent pointed this out in yesterday’s Work Session as well. They asked for some additional information which Mike Perrone, CFO, will be sending them this Friday. Hopefully it will help them see that this is a fiscally sound agreement. We will keep you apprised as the vote approaches.


I spoke before the School Board at their meeting yesterday afternoon on this issue. I let them know that you are in the process of ratifying the tentative agreements and that we, having fairly and judiciously worked with the district to come to these tentative agreements, have an expectation of them honoring the process with their vote. I have been asked if this is required to be a unanimous vote—it is not. There are 7 board members and each and every one of them will have a vote. I also want to clarify the quote attributed to me in the in the Ledger as the whole statement was not printed. I reminded the Board that there is a statutory provision to call us back to the table should the district have a valid “financial urgency”. I did not say that we are going back to the table on this pending agreement. I simply wanted them to remember if a real financial urgency were to arise there is a provision for that in the law.


The political infighting between the FL House and Senate is sad. To refuse federal money aimed at helping Florida’s children and poor is a little mind boggling especially when it creates unnecessary financial holes in the state’s budget. However, at the end of the day, there will always be finite dollars and Tallahassee budgetary wrangling. The School Board needs to prioritize its budgetary needs and they need to remember that the retention of highly qualified teachers in their classrooms and high quality support staff to support those classrooms is what truly moves student success in this District. Programs, consultants, and other ancillary things may help, but, their staff is where the rubber meets the road and where our student’s educational success is derived.  




Agreement on 2014-2015 contract changes

March 25, 2015

I am pleased to announce that the PEA and the Polk County School District have come to Tentative Agreement on Salaries, Health Insurance, and several working condition issues. There will be step movement and a raise and there will be retroactive payment. If duly ratified and School Board approved the raises, including retro pay, will be on your April check.  


We are prepping the Agreement for release to you on April 6th and the ratification process will begin at that time. Please understand that the process of getting the information to you takes a little time and we are up against Spring Break, but the Superintendent and I wanted you to have the good news as we prepare to leave for break. Instead of announcing snippets, which just leads to more questions, we want to send you all of the information at one time. We felt Monday, April 6th would be the best date as most of you disconnect for Spring Break. The Ratification Timeline is below. 


As to evaluations and performance pay, we are continuing to work on the Evaluation components and are awaiting legislative changes to testing and accountability that are currently working their way through the FL Senate. We know changes are imminent, for example, the percentage of student learning gains may be significantly reduced. We did not want to sign-off on anything until we know all of the details because this issue is hugely important and we want you to have the best system possible. We will begin bargaining the 15-16 Contract almost immediately and these pieces will be first in the queue. 


Again, please bear with us and look at your email box on Monday, April 6th.

In Solidarity, Marianne  


planning time grievance - we won!

February 6, 2015

PEA filed a class-action grievance regarding the erosion of planning time and the fact the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was not being followed throughout the district.


PEA presented evidence that the CBA was being either partially or, in some cases, completely ignored. The district’s hearing officer, in conjunction with Sup’t LeRoy agreed. The result of grievance and the expectation that the contract be honored has been outlined in a memo that Sup’t LeRoy has given the principals in the meeting they attended February 5, 2015.


PEA and the district continue to discuss planning as an ongoing issue and your bargaining team has also taken up this as an issue at the table. 



fea won't appeal SB 850 Lawsuit

Thurs., January 8, 2015

After a series of meetings with Senate President Andy Gardiner, the Florida Education Association (FEA) has decided not to appeal the log-rolling challenge to Senate Bill 850, FEA Vice President Joanne McCall said today.


“We have opened a dialogue with the Senate president on a broad range of issues, including testing, special needs students and other public education concerns of paramount importance to the FEA,” McCall said. “We look forward to working together for the benefit of our children.”


FEA had filed suit last year about the manner in which SB 850 was enacted during the 2014 legislative session. Two pieces of legislation were rejected in committee and then added to an unrelated education bill on the final day of the session. A Leon Circuit Court judge dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds without ever hearing the merits of the case.


Today’s actions are not related to another lawsuit FEA has filed in conjunction with other groups and individuals seeking to declare the ever-expanding tax-credit voucher program unconstitutional.