In addition to the Executive Committee, there were nine rank-and-file members present for negotiations with the School Committee. They were Megan Duffy, Christine Hickey, Nancy Koorapaty, Cindy Langlois, Susan MacGregor, Irina Ostravskaya, and Nicole Sanchez, with Mandy Breton and Emily Boulger elected to serve as co-chairs by the team.
The session was collegial, with both sides indicating a clear willingness to work together to develop a reasonable plan for the transition to full in-person learning. Unfortunately, the School Committee did not have any details for the HEA to consider about how, exactly, the District would like to move forward at any grade level. The survey for parents to choose a remote learning model is not yet closed. Without that data, there is no transition plan for us to discuss or respond to. Essentially, we were told to expect “the same as all year [so far], just more kids.” If only it were that simple.
We left the School Committee with an initial list of questions that we hope to have some definitive answers to at our next session. It is critical that members be provided with specific details about how the District is going to protect your health and safety as well as what changes to your working conditions the they are asking all of you to implement.
Some principals have begun to form planning teams to begin addressing the individual needs of their buildings. These teams are not a replacement for bargaining, nor is participation in these teams the only way for members to have a voice in this process. In response to bargaining team concerns that principals may not engage all staff or may not incorporate their concerns into the plans they develop, the superintendent pledged to instruct every principal to share their ideas and solicit honest feedback from the staff in their buildings. To ensure that your concerns are heard and brought to the School Committee, she has also committed to sending one of her senior staff to participate in these conversations when they occur to ensure there is no gatekeeping of information from either bargaining team.
For these reasons, we encourage members to communicate often with your principal over the coming weeks. If your principal is not sharing the details with you in an open and timely manner, your building representative should alert the Executive Committee immediately.Principals should be sharing their plans and not only seeking input but also making adjustments in response to member concerns whenever possible. We are encouraged that Dr. Marotta and the School Committee are open to a collaborative process, but we must hold the administrators accountable at the building level to ensure your voices are being heard.
Our next session is this Friday, March 19th at 4:00pm. If you’d like to join as an observer (plus we could still use another permanent member from HHS) please reach out to Anthony Parolisi (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Thursday at 4:00pm.
To keep you as informed as possible, the Bargaining Team will be holding an all-member meeting on Tuesday, March 23rd at 7:00 PM. We will provide you an update on the District’s transition plans and how those plans may impact your working conditions. Most importantly, we want to hear from you directly about how to proceed. Please make every effort to join us for this meeting and participate in our democratic process.
To familiarize yourself with Commissioner Riley and DESE’s March 9th guidance for schools or Dr. Marotta’s PowerPoint presentation to the School Committee on March 11th, visit our website.
Mandy Breton and Emily Boulger
Bargaining Team Chairs