The first week of spring is turning into a busy week for RESPA. We met with Ruth Beier from the financial department of MEA on Monday. She went over the financial statements from the school audit with us and explained what it all met. I invited REA to join us at this meeting because they too needed to hear the same information. This will help us when we sit down with the district during negotiations later this spring.
RESPA did have our board meeting Tuesday, March 21st. We rescheduled it after we meet with MEA. Normally we have it on the second Tuesday of each month. Out next one is on schedule for April 11th were we will be talking more about negotiations.
On Thursday, I will be meeting with Mr. VanderJagt to go over a few things that has came up and we need to talk them through. We like to meet once a month just to chat and keep on top of everything. At times we do call each other to talk about an issue at hand; which usually results in scheduling a meeting to chat about other things that has caught our attention. I then report back to the executive board to keep them in the loop of things.
RESPA next meeting will be on Monday, March 27th. We will be joining REA with our MESSA rep, Renee' Szurna. She will be going over the available plans that MESSA offers that not only saves the district money but us as well and this too will help us when we sit down with the district.
Well, we have finished up the winter season as February ended and the spring season is here. With the weather this first week of March it sounds like we still need the winter attire though. We are also starting the bargaining season also with a financial meeting with MEA.
We will be reviewing the district financial information as a first step to prepare us for negotiation for the new contract. We only were able to get a 1 year agreement last year, in part because we never know what the school funding will be. At a first look at the state's budget for next year the schools will only receive additional $100. This doesn't keep up with the cost of living increase we all face- including the schools. This is why the county wide enhance millage is important to all of us.
Dr. Shibler is going through the district and meeting with staff explaining what this means for Rockford. He also is meeting with parent groups out in the community to answer any questions they may have. I have a link on the website that breaks all of this down. In short, the first year RPS could see $1.7 million dollars to the general fund. This money can be used on any of the district's needs.
Other happens with RESPA this month. We have KCEA congress today (3/8) and we meet with the administration team on Wednesday, March 14th. We have not schedule a board meeting due to all of the other meetings we have. If you do have any questions or concerns to bring up at the admin meeting, contact your Vice Presidents or myself before the 14th.
Well RESPA is cruising along this February. Not much has been happening but as we get into March things will be picking up the pace. This is when we start to gather information for negotiation with the district later in the spring. We will have a number of meetings in the coming months to understand the financial information and any changes that comes out of Lansing that might affect our jobs here in the schools. We will also be sending a Google survey out to all support staff to get some feed back what you would like to see in the contract or even removed to make it better for all.
I hope you do check out the website often. The past few weeks I've been adding newsletter links. They are under the Legislation News & Updates tab and what that means is that I must keep these current. Every time I get an updated newsletter in my email I need to change the link address on the website. If I don't do this the information will be weeks old or even months old and useless. Also, I have found out how to put a YouTube video on the site and I will change that up as I find interesting and useful news for you.
I hope the winter has been kind to you and you have stayed healthy. If you have any questions or ideas about the website you send your them to me under the Questions tab.
It's been a while since I've updated the website so I'll better get at it. It's been a quiet few weeks for RESPA. I attended another administration meeting at Parkside Elementary on January 26th. This was attend mostly by the elementary staff, we have another meeting with secondary staff next week. This year the meetings moved to the buildings, one for the elementary concerns and the other for secondary. We will rap up this year on March 13th with a luncheon at the High School.
The elementary meeting still have concerns with the one on one devises the elementary students. Each student received a laptop and I-Pads. They are a great tool to work for the classrooms. One concern is the screen time the kids have. They are not used every minute in the classroom but how are they being used at home.
Dr. VanderJagt informed the group of an enhancement millage coming from the KISD, a vote will take place on May 2nd. More information will be coming soon.
As for RESPA in the coming weeks. We have a board meeting on February 14th, always the 2nd Tuesday of the month. In the coming months we will start to gather information for negotiations with the district. A survey will go out to all who are included in the RESPA contract. We would like to form a contract committee to help us to find what is need for bettering RESPA and its members.
I hope you have enjoyed the holidays. As I'm writting this blog, there is only a few days left in 2016. I've also noticed that we are over a third of the way through the school year and nearing the half way point. It's amazing how fast the years moves along.
Not much has been happening with RESPA in the past few weeks. The past few days I've updated the website by adding another page and learned how to post Youtube videoes on the site. Just a few years ago I would have never thought of building or maintenaining a website but here I am. I continuely referr members to the site because of the information that I can post here. I'm limited what I can send out on the school network because of political or union information that you need or could use. I encourage you to check back at the site often- you will never know I will figure out next to put on the site.
Lastly, I like to wish you all a great New Year. May it be better then the year before with more possibilities come your way. If you have any questions about the site you can always fill out the form and send it my way.
On Monday, November 28th we met with state Rep Rob VerHeulen to discuss the pension question during the lame duck session here in the state of Michigan. Overall he didn't think any thing would happen during this time. He spoke that it would be very complicated to try to do something in such a short time.
Your retirement is being funded by you and to try to take some school employees out of the system will cause a very expensive mistake. There was a teacher that mention that the influence of the Mackinac Center will get involve that something needs to be done now. This is how Right To Work was passed. State Rep VerHeulen said it is not a good way to pass any bills on the floor when you do this late in the day or after midnight.
A lot of good questions were asked and it was a pleasant low key meeting with Representative VerHeulen. We- you need to keep a close eye on Lansing this time of year. Not only could the pension question go to the floor but other bills that concerns public education or you as school employees could come up to a vote. The people who you elected can do this with no accountability because their time is up come January.
I do want to thank Julia Dudka for setting up the meeting with Rep VerHeulen and sending the details to RESPA.
I had a long day on Tuesday (11/15), this was our fall membership meeting. I arrived at school at 5:0o in the morning and didn't get back home until 7:00. This was to prep for the meeting- and my work duties in between it all. I want to thank those who came out to the RESPA meeting. I would like to say a special thank you to our guest; Rene Szurna from MESSA, Bruce Reamue from MEA Financial and Nancy Strachan, Vice President of MEA.
This was an open meeting for all support staff to get to know RESPA and what we have to offer as a member of our union. We had a small group but they were able to talk to our MESSA rep and MEA Financial and see that our Vice President, Nancy Strachan was a real person. I was able to show those who attended this website and all the information that I've put on it to help and inform you.
I also want to thank Lori Helmholdt and Pam VandeKeroff for their work for the meeting. Lori made an awesome snacks and gift bags for everyone. Pam organized a "hunter's baskets since our meeting fell on Opening Day of deer season. With that I picked up some "Target" gifts cards as door prizes.
Again, many thanks for those who attended the meeting. If you have any questions about RESPA, just fill out the form on this site. Once you press submit, your question is emailed to me at my home address.
The the long election process is over. The question is now what? The only way to answer that is time. What we need to watch now here in Michigan is the lame duck session. This is the time when the election is over and the new legislators take office. In the past few years our legislators tend to pass a large amount bills in this time frame and this is not a practice to do.
At this last administration luncheon meeting Dr. Shibler mention that we need to keep a close eye on our legislators during the lame duck session. Why? The DeVos family has made it clear that the state should not offer pension to any of state employees- especially school employees. For those of you have been working for the school and expecting a pension this may not happen. Those who entering the work in a school district in the coming months they may not have a pension that you have.
This is reason why you need to keep an eyes and your ears on what is happen in Lansing. If you don't know who your reps you can find that info on this website. I will keep updated information here so please check back often.
Lastly, thank you for supporting Geoff Downs to the Rockford School Board. Being a former educator he will bring a long time experience of what is best for the students and staff for RPS.
I've been RESPA President for the past 4 years. I've been active union officer for over 15 years.