Dickinson Public Schools Unapproved Special School Board Meeting Minutes Thursday, January 21, 2021, Noon Central Administration Offices and via a Zoom Webinar A complete recording of the January 21, 2021, Special School Board Meeting is available on the Dickinson Public Schools website utilizing the BoardDocs link.
Dickinson Public Schools
Unapproved Special School Board Meeting Minutes
Thursday, January 21, 2021, Noon
Central Administration Offices and via a Zoom Webinar
A complete recording of the January 21, 2021, Special School Board Meeting is available on the Dickinson Public Schools website utilizing the BoardDocs link.
The Dickinson Public School Board held a Special Board Meeting on January 21, 2021, at the Central Administration Offices in the Board room and also via a Zoom Webinar. Board members present were: President Brent Seaks, Vice President Kim Schwartz, Board Member Michelle Orton, and Board Member Jason Rodakowski. Board Member David Wilkie recused himself from this meeting. Others present were: Superintendent Shon Hocker, Assistant Superintendent Keith Harris, Business Manager Stephanie Hunter, Community Relations Coordinator Sarah Trustem, School Board Secretary Twila Petersen, Ms. Fern Pokorny, Dr. Keith Fernsler, Mr. David Michaelson, Mrs. Marjorie Lehman, Mrs. Heather Brazelton, and Mr. Josh Lehman.
Call to Order - Board President Seaks called the meeting to order at noon. He thanked all that were in attendance in person and also via the Zoom Webinar.
Business Topic - Action Topic
Teacher Grievance - President Seaks recapped the Board heard a presentation from the teachers at the January 11, 2021, Board meeting regarding the teacher grievance from 25 Dickinson High School teachers. Superintendent Hocker had a written statement regarding the teacher grievance that he posted on BoardDocs. Teachers requested an opportunity to respond to the written statement. The high school administrators requested an opportunity to also share a written statement. President Seaks said both letters were received by the school board for review and consideration as part of today's discussion. They are posted on the School Board website utilizing the BoardDocs link.
President Seaks noted that traditionally the Board has made a motion before the discussion. He added as Board members it was not pleasant for the Board to be in this position. They would prefer to be part of the solution process. Mrs. Schwartz moved to approve the grievance. Mr. Rodakowski seconded the motion. Following is a summary of the discussion.
Vice President Schwartz stated that from her reading and understanding it all comes down to if the contract was violated. This did not matter how much it would cost the District or if teachers pitched in to assist. She said it was whether the District violated the contract.
Board Member Rodakowski said that the core concept of the grievance was the online classes provided at the high school. When he read the letter, the teachers had to plan for in-person hybrid classes and also online classes. He added those are difficulties districtwide as all teachers have had those problems. He noted the grievants did not feel the additional temporary employees hired by the District and the stipend paid by the District were pertinent since that was available to all teachers. He added it was hard to distinguish if the grievance was pertaining to the teaching job as a whole or only to the online teaching component.
President Seaks referenced the contract agreement and he felt the concern focuses on the interpretation of the 7-3/4 hours. He inquired if that would be the maximum or ceiling in which teachers were expected to work or as the District's attorney interpreted it to be the floor or the minimum hours. He felt this was a critical piece that is probably not going to be worked out until it is resolved through teacher and/or administrator negotiations.
Board Member Orton said that two years ago when there were teacher negotiations no one knew what was going to happen. She questioned if this were to happen again, would negotiations need to be done every time there was a change? She referenced Mr. Michaelson's explanation of assisting with athletics. Are there other individuals stepping into a role and not being acknowledged that will show up later? Mrs. Orton added that all employees have gone above and beyond.
Vice President Schwartz said the District set a precedent by having online elementary teachers because the District felt the normal classroom teacher would not be able to fulfill their roles.
President Seaks noted the elementary teachers still needed to do extra work for those students out of the classroom due to quarantine or other circumstances. The online teachers did not take care of those student's needs. He referenced the Edgenuity or Schoology platforms and said the administration stated the teachers had the option of which platform. One platform would require additional work when utilized for in-class and online students.
President Seaks said a big part of this was if appreciation mandated compensation. He said the Board and the community appreciates everything that has been done by the teachers at all levels, from Head Start through the high schools.
Board Member Rodakowski referenced working conditions in the negotiated agreement which states the teachers are expected to work a consecutive 7-3/4-hour shift each day as dictated by the needs of the students. He felt this sets the floor and not the ceiling of hours. He added that the language does not limit the number of classes for each teacher to teach. Mr. Rodakowski felt the 7-3/4 hours was a minimum and was confident everyone would concede that all teachers work more than 7-3/4 hours before the pandemic and during the pandemic. He added that he thought the teachers were compensated for more than 7-3/4 hours. If the teacher salaries were broken down and the teachers were required to work 7-3/4 hours Monday through Friday with no holidays and no summers, it would reflect high salaries. If the teacher works no more than 7-3/4 hours then the District will need to renegotiate the contract.
Mr. Rodakowski referenced Dickinson High School Principal Hoherz's letter that stated "This pandemic has been the great equalizer in education, it caused some of our most experienced staff to relive the first years of their career and presented our newest teachers with a challenge their college degrees and career experience did not prepare them for." The teachers that had been teaching for 20 years and have 20 years of prep sheets now have to teach differently.
President Seaks referenced the grievance request for compensation. One of the teachers that filed the grievance emailed him and noted it was not about the money; it was about the concept of being forced to do more than what was in the contract.
Board members clarified the motion on the table and determined the motion was for the teacher grievance as presented. Board Member Rodakowski said the dollar amount that was requested in the motion on the table was asking for a 70% increase over their salary for a teacher teaching three online classes, a 46% over their salary for a teacher teaching two online classes, and a teacher teaching one online class was asking for a 23% increase over their salary.
Board Member Rodakowski inquired what was done differently for the middle school online students. It was his understanding there were blocks of time set aside for the teachers to teach the online students. Superintendent Hocker concurred.
Board Member Orton asked if there were other online classes where the teacher chose not to file a grievance. Board Member Rodakowski responded the 25 grievants account for 39 of the online classes. There were 50 total online courses taught in the first quarter. There are over 10 online courses that teachers have chosen not to file a grievance.
Vice President Schwartz inquired if the school district had an attorney review the information. President Seaks responded the school district did have an attorney review the documents right away. The District's attorney interpreted the 7-3/4 hours was the floor and not the ceiling.
A roll call vote was taken on the motion: ayes-0; nays-4 (Orton, Rodakowski, Schwartz, Seaks); abstain-1 (Board Member Wilkie had recused himself from this agenda topic). The motion lost.
Adjournment - At 12:42 p.m., President Seaks declared the meeting adjourned.
Brent Seaks, Board President
Stephanie Hunter, Business Manager
Twila Petersen, Secretary
(Feb. 10, 2021) 2875421