April 18, 2014: Mediation went from 9:30am to 3:00pm today at the District Office. We have scheduled the next mediation meeting for May 5 at the District Office at 9am. At this time meditation is different than normal bargaining and therefore is all the information we can share at this time.
A letter from one of our own :
I came to VUSD in 1976, some 38 years ago, turning down teaching positions in other districts not only because Vista continuously offered one of the highest salary and benefit packages in the county, but because its reputation as the most innovative model for educational excellence was matched by no one. We were the cutting edge, the model to be followed, "the" District that taught teachers and administrators of other districts how to best educate and meet the needs of "all" students, especially those defined as "needy". There truly was "No better place to Learn", which was not just our motto, but truly our "Blueprint" of that time. Being selected by my peers to be part of the two High School teams (that included students, parents, teachers, and administrators) who traveled to Washington D.C. to receive National Distinguished School Awards from the President of the United States on the White House lawn was a great honor. When I shook the President's hand it wasn't my hand extended but the hand of more than a thousand teachers I represented.
I remember a time when School Board Members stood side by side with VTA members (like me) in Sacramento to protest and advocate for the public education needs of our students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
I remember a time when VTA answered the request by parents to assist them in the removal of an anti-public education dominated school board. Hundreds of VTA organized teachers volunteered their time and money to help thousands of parents and students who wanted to rescue the District. Despite personal threats, occasional attempts to have these advocates arrested and the political fallout that followed, these volunteers persevered and we were successful.
I remember a time when the District requested VTA attend an emergency meeting because they were not going to be able to meet county budgetary requirements and reserve mandates. Making a long story short, The District had misspent the already approved and budgeted raise for teachers on equipment and other services and could not balance its budget. VTA was able to convince its members to postpone receiving a raise to bail out the District.
I remember a time when two of our School Board members were opposed to passing a bond to build more schools and relieve the desperate overcrowding crisis we faced. In response to this opposition, our Superintendent and School Board President requested I (the VTA President) accompany them for a meeting with Congressman Darrel Issa to garner his support of a local school bond to build schools. That political support and subsequent pressure led to a 5-0 School Board 'vote in support of a bond. During that campaign students, parents, teachers, administrators, School Board members, and even the Superintendent sat side-by-side to make phone calls night after night, walked precincts after school and on weekends, and attended community forums to achieve a successful election. Respect, trust, collaboration and perseverance were not just words on a page. We gave real meaning and life to those words.
I remember a time when Board members and the Superintendents actually sat at the bargaining table to negotiate and problem solve with VTA. A time when lawyers were only needed for the fine print because of their stifling of open dialogue and lack of knowledge on educational issues. A time when finger pointing only meant there was an open seat next to me. A time when declaring an impasse was viewed as a failure of the "Blueprint" itself.
But I also remember a time when the District bean counters took control of our decision making. This was a time when increasing class size, laying off teachers, reducing teacher preparation and collaboration minutes made "cents" to the bean counters but made no "sense" professional educators. This was a time when we had to contend with massive budget cuts and poor District leadership. We were like the sinking Titanic, where students and parents were appropriately ordered to the life-boats while the rest of us were ordered to remain on deck. Our story had a different ending though, our leadership literally "Baled" itself out in another life-boat leaving the rest of us behind. In hind-sight, that gesture actually gave us a better chance to survive.
Roughly two years ago I met you and your wife for the first time at a Vista Chamber of Commerce sponsored event honoring heroes of Vista. I was filled with hope at a time when the District was suffering economically and challenged with poor leadership that you would right the ship. I was even more encouraged when I heard you speak and begin to explain a Blueprint for Educational Excellence and Innovation. I thought I might be witnessing the reincarnation of a District that was becoming more than just fancy buzz words on a paper and might actually come to life.
Your recent message to all of us dashed that hope I so wished to embrace. It raised more questions than it answered. Why reducing class size is not seen as part of the Blueprint to help our "neediest" students and paid for through those funds is at best baffling. Even the suggestion of reducing teacher preparation and collaboration time borders lunacy if we truly want to achieve the goals of the Blueprint. That the funds available for such priorities can't be touched is confusing. And please understand that we will be grateful for better compensation but don't expect cartwheels and back-flips over an offer that only catches us up to where other districts have been for a decade.
The Blueprint you so loudly flaunt, states we will never give up, will never stop learning and improving, and will persevere. It continues to espouse critical thinking and collaboration. I wanted to hear your position and explanation on bargaining issues but your finger pointing at VTA eliminated all credibility in my mind.
We are not at impasse because of VTA. We are at impasse because the "District", you, have declared it so. Declaring impasse makes the Blueprint for Educational Excellence and innovation a hollow document.
Please accept these thoughts and concerns from someone who wants to and is ready to believe once again. Your leadership could get us there but you'll have to lead by example.
Thank you for your time.
Parent and teacher in the District as well as a proud member of the VTA.
March 20, 2014
This evening during bargaining with the District our team presented our proposals. After we presented the District declared Impasse. We didn't accept their offer, which is fundamentally unchanged from their beginning offer and doesn't the needs of our students or our members.
The District once again declared that they cannot give anymore, they have not increased their offer or truly tried to meet us half way. They say: this is it, it is all we have and they expect us to accept it blindly. We have shown them over and over again with their own budget reports that their projections are always wrong.
Vista teachers are among the lowest paid in the county, yet our District has excessive reserves. Vista teachers have given furlough days, increased class size and bear the additional costs of health care. All the while our students suffer in larger class sizes and the District buys 5000 Chrome books and new textbooks!
Where are the priorities? Will chrome books and apps and tech tools drain our District of resources like Lindamood Bell did under Joyce Bales? We deserve Respect, Trust and Collaboration not more of the same. Our students deserve lower class sizes and we deserve a decent raise. It's been seven YEARS?
We are strong together, we deserve a substantial raise, the District can afford both a raise and lower class sizes. We are Vista, we are the teachers, We are the advocates for our Students, We will be united!!!
VUSD Bargaining Update with VTA follow up from March 14, 2014
Note: In compliance with the law and in support of transparency that reflects our values, we will post factual updates on negotiations at the conclusion of each session.
VTA and VUSD Joint Update:
VTA and VUSD met on Friday, March 14, 2014 at VTA for bargaining. VUSD presented a proposal for Articles 12, 13, 18, and 20. VTA provided VUSD with a data sheet in support of their proposals for Articles 12, 13, and 20. VUSD agreed to share this information with the district leadership and will follow-up with VTA on March 17 with some feedback. The parties are working to arrange another date for formal negotiations during the week of March 17.
February 26, 2014
The District and VTA had a bargaining session yesterday that was supposed to last until 4:00PM. The District took time to write counter proposal's and left our team waiting for 2 1/2 hours and then came back to the table and said they still were not ready so our team was sent home at 1:30 and the District would mail their proposals later.
The two teams will meet again on Friday hopefully from 9-4PM. As of yesterday the VTA proposals surrounding class size, salary and benefits are:
1) 7% salary this year and 7% next year
2) raise benefits cap to $11,000 next year, and increase by CPI thereafter
3) class size 24-1 at K-3 and revert to pre-MOU for grades 4-12:
Class sizes for grades 4-5 shall not exceed 34.
The daily student contact for middle school teachers shall not exceed 190, and the class size for middle school teachers shall not
exceed 34. The daily student contact for high school teachers shall not exceed165, and the class size for high school teachers shall not exceed 38.
4) cap at 24 for K-5 combo classes
5) staffing of librarians according to district strategic plan
We believe that with both the passing of Prop 30 and the LCFF funding formula, 25% reserve funding and the supplemental funding for English learners,low income and migrant students that the District is receiving that they are more capable of supporting class size reductions and a raise. We also believe there is ample time to come to an agreement and any arbitrary deadline is a bargaining tactic to try force VTA into a less then acceptable agreement.
We have gone seven long years without a raise and deserve to be treated as a priority. We also believe that class size reduction is in the best interests of our students and our teachers. Survey after survey of our members has supported that stance.
There are many other issues on the table that we are working our way through and we are making progress. Please stay strong and resolute and know that a raise is a priority and don't let the multiple proposals and alternative scenarios let you think options are off the table. Bargaining is a process of give and take and compromise and both sides are working diligently.
February 11, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014 VTA and VUSD met to bargain. At this meeting VTA passed across proposals for salary, class size, evaluation procedures, duty hours and medical benefits. VTA believes that with the increased funding for public education this year and for years to come we are in a position to ask for and receive a substantial raise and have our class sizes restored to pre-MOU levels. The District still has a 25% reserve of money amounting to $44 million and they are receiving nearly $7 million in additional funding this year and $12.6 million for the 2014/15 school year. School Districts are not required to have more than a 3% reserve of funds; the money is to be spent on programs, materials, student services and employees.
Ask your site rep what you can do to help with bargaining. We need all of our members to join us in wearing our black “No larger class sizes” T-shirts on Thursdays, ask your friends, neighbors and parents to attend School Board meetings to let the Board know how important lower class sizes are to you and your students. We want to hear how the larger class sizes have impacted your students and your instruction. VTA is a strong association because of you, our members. We rally together when needed, help out our friends and colleagues and are dedicated professionals. I am very proud to stand with you all and work to make Vista School District again a great place to work, learn and live.
The next bargaining date is February 13, 2014 from 9-4:00 PM at the District office. The next School Board meeting is February 20, 2014 at City Hall beginning at 7:00PM.