Due to a budget shortfall and projected spending pressures in DC government, Mayor Adrian Fenty signed an Executive Order which will take effect on October 6. Click the link to see the Executive Order:
As a result of spending pressures, DC Government inclusive of DC Public Schools will be under the following restrictions:
2. freeze on all vacant positions
3. freeze on travel and training
4. there will be NO INCREASE in salary or benefits including increases in negotiated salary, wage and benefits provisions and negotiated salary schedules shall be provided in fiscal year 2011 from the fiscal year 2010 salary and benefits levels.
When the Washington Teachers' Union contract (2007-12) which was negotiated and finalized by 'Hold Over' union President George Parker and AFT President Randi Weingarten in September 2010, I questioned and raised concerns about a clause in the union contract language which states on page 103:
Article 40.1: The Parties agree that all provisions of this agreement are subject to the availability of funds.
40.2: Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as a promise that Congress, the DC Council and any other organization shall appropriate sufficient funds to meet the obligations set forth in this Agreement."
I was worried that this clause which has never appeared in previous union contracts would come back to haunt us in addition to, protecting DC Public Schools from honoring the terms of our Contract Agreement once ratified. My gut told me that when Parker and Weingarten negotiated our teachers' union contract during a large looming budget deficit (158 mil) that it would only lead to problems for us down the road. Of course my concerns about the contract language that were addressed to 'Hold Over' Union President George Parker fell on deaf ears and of course the rest is history. While I don't have the answers to what the Mayor's Executive order means for DC teachers and school personnel, as a critical thinker it raises for me a number of questions and concerns that requires us to seek additional information on how this will impact teachers, school personnel, students and schools.
As if this news weren't bad enough, inside anonymous sources are also reporting that Chancellor Michelle Rhee's final curtain call will be another reduction in force (RIF) for DC public school employees much like the RIF that occurred a year ago last October. While these are only speculations at this point, It is reasonable to believe that cuts will need to be made due to "budget pressures." Certainly at Vincent Gray's town hall meeting on October 5, he suggested that cuts will have to be made in DC Government. Whether or not these spending pressures were manufactured by Rhee and company in order to cleanse DC Schools as one inside source suggests is a question a lot of people are wondering about. Another anonymous source raises some important questions that must be answered (see below). In the days up ahead, I will be exploring the answers to many of the questions below. If you have any insights, feel free to drop me an email @ email@example.com or post your comment on The Washington Teacher blog.
Questions That Deserve Answers:
1) Is the entire WTU contract that Ms. Rhee negotiated (all salary increases) out the window?
2) Is the entire 21% "negotiated" salary increase out the window?
3) Or is the "negotiated FY 2010" salary scale kept on as the FY 2011 salary level(s)? That is, no increase from FY2010 to FY2011?
4) What impact does this have on IMPACTplus?
5) Will this cause a RIF or excessed positions?
6) If positions are excessed, should highly effective teachers take the "bonus" pay? Are there strings attached for FY 2010?
7) What impact will this have on teacher professional development and implementation of the WTU contract?
8) How many open positions in DCPS are there and are they all frozen?
9) Does this affect the contractor and consultant positions?
10) If schools come in over their budgeted enrollment, can they still expect to receive "equalization" and if so, when?
11) Will DCPS increase the target average class size to reduce the number of teachers needed?
12) How will this help/hinder getting Spec. Ed budgeting under control and bring more services in house? Is it true that DCPS fired so many local Sped support personnel that they must now import services from very far out of town including airfare expenses??
13) What impact does this have on negotiating the CSO contract? Has that gone to arbitration yet?
14) What effect does this have on the other DCPS labor contracts and negotiations (AFSCME, etc.)?
15) Will DCPS seriously consider closing more under enrolled schools to gain back the economy of scale?
16) What does this do to the Fine Arts Middle School currently in the planning states, but with no announced budget?
17) What other initiatives are likely to be cut back?
18) Will this effect the outside evaluation of the educational reforms of the last three years previously budgeted at about $350,000 or so (estimated from memory)? When has this body met since the initial meeting? And what progress have they made?
19) Will this effect the CSM budgeting model or will we see a return to the weighted student formula for local school budgets in order to better ensure that the money actually follows the students?