Bargaining session #10 took place this afternoon. Needless to say, the conditions members encountered in many of the buildings was a topic of much concern.
We started with the pressing matter of the assignments to the Remote Learning Academy (K-8) and have agreed to language now confirming that, whenever possible, RLA teachers will work with their home schools and return to in-person learning with those schools when remote learning is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, the School Committee and Dr. Marotta still would not agree to allow those who only work remotely the option to remain home while doing so without a qualified family or medical need. We are sure that doing so would not only do the most to limit exposure to and the spread of the virus, but would entice more of our highly-qualified educators to apply for the positions. Nevertheless, we now have in writing that RLA teachers will be able to return to their current buildings when we return to regular learning. This will be in the MOA and also in your Transfer Letter. If you are interested in volunteering in light of this new information, please reach out to your principal directly as soon as possible. Also, if you volunteered for RLA in the last couple of days, but are having second thoughts, you should communicate that to the principal as well. There may be others in your building willing to take the spot now that there is language to protect their current position.
A discussion regarding the Leftfield HVAC assessment followed. We expressed concern over the lack of details included in the documents received. Specifically we are looking for room by room results and the definition of “reduced capacity” for each classroom under the current conditions. We are asking for documented assurance, discussed at School Committee meetings, that each room has adequate ventilation to occupy safely. This was the information we expected. The District is expecting a more detailed report, no date given, and will provide it to us when it’s received.
We discussed your experiences in the buildings today. We stand in Solidarity with our union siblings in the custodial department. Like educators, our facilities staff have long been understaffed, underfunded, and forced to go without necessary resources to meet the many demands on their time. After weeks of social media posts and School Committee updates describing the overdue window repairs, screen replacements, deep cleaning, and preventative maintenance performed over the summer – in addition to a ventilation report – our members voted yesterday to trust the Administration enough to work from the buildings under duress. For many of you, that trust was violated when we arrived and saw dirty vents, windows unable to be opened, missing screens, and little of the promised sanitizing supplies needed to reduce the Covid threat. We went in worried that the planned safety systems might be too difficult to keep up long term, but were faced with them not being viable on day 1. Good intentions and hard work may not be able to manage in-person Covid learning if we are understaffed or under budgeted to keep up.
We shared your photos and stories about everything from unopened windows and windowless workspaces to clogged sinks with stagnant water, dirty bathrooms and air vents, rodent droppings (and live rodents) and worse. The District acknowledged that these conditions were unacceptable, and Dr. Marotta vowed to do better. If you haven’t already, please fill out a facilities request form from the Haverhill Public Schools Launchpad or https://facilities.haverhill-ps.org/ and alert your principal to any issues you encounter in the buildings. Contact your building rep if you can’t get resolution.
This weekend, Dr. Marotta will provide the bargaining team with her responses to our most recent counter, and the bargaining team will reconvene to review and counter on Sunday in an effort to get this completed. We resume bargaining on Wednesday, the 16th at 4PM. To observe, please reply to this email by Tuesday at noon.
Nancy Koorapaty and Christine Hickey
Bargaining Team Co-chairs