Good evening Commissioners:
As you know, I am president of the Burlington Education Association. I’m also a history teacher at BHS and a resident of Ward 5.
On behalf of the Burlington School District’s teachers and paraeducators, I hope that as you work toward the March vote on a proposed budget for 2017-18, problems that plagued the current year’s budget will be avoided. I hope that the strategic planning process underway is being driven by district goals that focus on comprehensive student-centered educational programming and services.The strategic plan needs to be grounded in the goal of providing ample opportunities for student success.
Specifically, I hope that your proposed budget will make clear the district’s educational objectives and will clearly identify through line-item accounting the specific expenditures needed to reach those goals. I also hope that all programs, people, and budget items can be defended as directly serving the educational needs of Burlington’s students.
Out of respect for Burlington taxpayers, it is more crucial than ever that allocations of funds -- proposed and actual spending of tax dollars -- must first and foremost go toward student-directed services.
In that vein, library/media center specialists must be restored at all schools. These teachers are not replaceable. These programs are not expendable. Library/media services provide crucial direct support for students and teachers. Those of us who work directly with students are feeling the hit; we are not able to provide the quality of education our community expects. Library/media centers are the heart and soul of a democratic society. As a district we need to take seriously our goal of providing equitable educational opportunities to all students.
Similarly, as we strive to insure that each and every student has access to educational support and programming that is appropriately challenging, your proposed budget needs to restore faculty and paraprofessionals who provide both remedial services and advance placement programming. We cannot afford to continue slashing programs for any student; to do so will continue to damage the education of all students.
Again, as you work toward developing a proposed budget for the March vote, I hope you will be honest and true to Burlington’s heritage of providing all necessary student-directed educational programs and services, staffed with licensed professionals. The goals that direct the budget must insure that all students have equal access to an education that will make reaching one’s full potential a reality for each student.
I wish you an enjoyable and safe December break and a happy new year.
Vote comes after union, board reached a tentative agreement that averted a strike
BURLINGTON – Burlington’s teachers today agreed to ratify the agreement reached last week with the school board that averted a strike and ensures a contract through August 2017.
“I am so proud of my fellow members,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the president of the Burlington Education Association. “We showed that when we stand together, we can do great things. I am also pleased that we and the school board have reached a settlement that not only averted a strike, but also paved the way for all of us to work together on behalf of the city’s children.”
Details of the agreement – which replaces a set of employment policies imposed by the school board won’t be released until it is also ratified by the Burlington School Board.
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Negotiators for both sides worked hard to reach deal for a one-year pact that will keep schools open
BURLINGTON – Burlington’s teachers will not go on strike tomorrow as they and the city’s school board reached a tentative agreement for a one-year contract.
“I am pleased to tell Burlington students, parents and residents that school will begin on time tomorrow morning,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the president of the Burlington Education Association, the teachers’ union. “I know this has been a hard road, but we’re pleased to have reached an agreement with the school board.”
Details of the agreement won't be released until it is ratified by both parties.
“This is terrific news for Burlington’s students,” Brock said. “In the end, the board shares the same deep devotion to the city’s children as we do, and our teams were able to reach an agreement that will allow us all to devote ourselves to making our schools even better for all of our students.”
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In unfair labor practice charge filed with Vermont Labor Board, teachers assert school board imposed working conditions before legally allowed
MONTPELIER – The Burlington School Board committed six unfair labor practices – including multiple attempts to thwart a settlement – in its rush to walk away from contract talks with the city’s teachers, according to an unfair labor practice charge filed today with the Vermont Labor Relations Board.
The charge, filed by the Burlington Education Association, said that what started out as an attempt to reach a quick, one-year deal for the current school year turned into protracted roadblocks to a settlement that ultimately ended when the board walked away from the table and imposed an employment policy before it was legally allowed to do so.
“From the start, more than 16 months ago, all we wanted was to have a one-year contract in place this year,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the union’s president. “We knew, and the board certainly knew, that the changes in health insurance looming next year means that we have some complicated bargaining ahead of us. It’s too bad the board chose division, delay, and roadblocks this year.”
The filing comes a day after hundreds of the union’s members voted overwhelmingly to strike Oct. 20 if a tentative contract agreement for the current year isn’t reached. The parties are scheduled to meet with a mediator on Oct. 19. The teachers, for their part, are hoping to settle. “I certainly hope the board has the same goal.”
In its filing, the union said the board:
“It’s too bad that the board has chosen the course it has, because instead of starting this school year in chaos and disruption, we could have had a contract in place,” Brock said. “It seems that the more than $50,000 the board’s leadership has spent on an anti-union consultant, a former superintendent and a bargaining adviser has brought them to this place.”
Brock said that she knows members of the board share the teachers’ dedication to the city’s students and she implores them to come to the table Wednesday ready to bargain a mutually acceptable settlement.
The ULP filing may be downloaded here.
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My name is Fran Brock, and I teach history at Burlington High School. I am also the president of the Burlington Education Association, the union that 400 of my colleagues and I proudly belong to.
This afternoon, we voted to authorize our negotiating team to call a strike no earlier than October 20 if a negotiated settlement is not reached during our session with a mediator.
We did not ever think it would come to this, but the leadership of this board has decided that division, political gamesmanship, and walking away and imposing employment conditions was a better course than settling during more than a year of talks.
Teachers take this action with thoughtfulness and sadness. We are acutely aware that a strike is disruptive for students, families, and for the community. But we can no longer stand by and allow the School Board to continue to demean us, to disrespect us, to devalue us and the teaching profession.
Union’s last resort comes after board chose imposition over negotiation
BURLINGTON – Members of the Burlington Education Association today voted to authorize a strike beginning Oct. 20 if a negotiated contract agreement isn’t reached.
“This afternoon, we voted to authorize our negotiating team to call a strike no earlier than Oct. 20 if a negotiated settlement is not reached during our upcoming bargaining session called by the mediator,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the Burlington Education Association president. “We did not ever think it would come to this, but the leadership of the school board has decided that division, political gamesmanship and walking away and imposing employment conditions was a better course than settling during more than a year of talks.”
Brock noted that there is still a chance to avoid a strike. “Teachers take this action with thoughtfulness and sadness,” she said. “We are acutely aware that a strike is disruptive for students, families, and for the community. There is a chance to avoid this strike, and it will require the board’s negotiating team to approach our scheduled mediation with a singular desire: obtaining a negotiated contract settlement.”
Mediator Ira Lobel called both the union and the board to a negotiating session that is to begin Oct. 19.
“I pledge that members of our team, as they always have, are willing and ready to roll up their sleeves and stay at the table as long as meaningful bargaining takes place,” Brock said.
The vote to strike comes after the school board became only the 21st in Vermont history to walk away from talks and impose employment policies for the current school year. As it happens, this board also imposed employment policies faster than any of its counterparts in Vermont history.
“As the men and women who work in our city’s schools every day, our first and primary priority is teaching Burlington’s children. That’s why we sought a swift, 1-year renewal of our contract more than a year ago,” Brock said. “We thought the board shared our desire to avoid a disruption in our school year. We hope that they will do what it takes to prevent it from happening.”
Last week, School Board Commissioner Miriam Stoll rightly said “this is a critical time for the district and we need to pull together to move forward. This fact is indisputable.”
Indeed, it is indisputable. Unfortunately, she and her fellow board members have brought us where we are today. And while we firmly believe we can reach a contract settlement for the balance of the school year, the board’s leadership continues to flex political muscle rather than seek respectful common ground.
BURLINGTON – Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the president of the Burlington Education Association, issued the following statement responding to the school board’s invitation to resume contract talks:
“We are pleased that the board indicated a willingness to resume talks with Burlington’s teachers. But it is quite unfortunate that they put conditions on those talks. A negotiation with conditions is not a true negotiation. To be clear, when the board unilaterally decided to end talks and impose an employment policy on the city’s teachers, they did so knowing that we were willing to accept the recommendations of a neutral fact-finder.
“If the board’s invitation to resume talks is sincere – and that means removing the imposition and entering into meaningful talks with us – we welcome the chance to sit down. But if the board’s chairman puts preconditions on the invitation to talk, we can only conclude that this is more about optics and bargaining by press release than on truly reaching a negotiated contract settlement.”
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This afternoon, 300 members of the BEA and community allies participated in an informational picket. Participants continued to ask the Burlington Board of School Commissioners to come back to the table and bargain with our community’s teachers. Participants called for a fair contract for all of the district’s teachers and for a transparent budget that details the Board’s allocation of money.
We have more informational pickets coming up over the next few days. One will be Wednesday morning, September 28th, from 7:15-7:45 am at each of our schools and another will be in front of the Edmunds campus on Main Street from 4:00-4:30 on Thursday, September 29th.