Spring Election Day – Tuesday, April 1
- Published on Mar 07, 2014
- Written by Joe Kiriaki-Executive Director
Absentee Voting Procedures and Early Voting
This year Election Day is Tuesday, April 1. If you are a registered voter and plan on voting absentee, you can apply for an absentee ballot as follows:
Request by Mail
Download an Application for an Absentee Ballot along with instructions to fill out the form at http://gab.wi.gov/sites/default/files/gab_forms/4/gab_121_application_for_absentee_ballot_2013_06__50230.pdf. Complete the form and mail it to your municipal clerk’s office. The application must be received by the clerk no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the election, March 27, in order for an absentee ballot to be mailed to you.
Deadline for Return of Absentee Ballot to Municipal Clerk
The completed ballot must be received by the municipal clerk no later than the day of the election, Tuesday, April 1, so that it can be delivered to the polling location by 8 p.m.
In-person at Your Municipal Clerk’s Office
If you apply for an absentee ballot at your municipal clerk’s office (March 17-28, 2014), you must vote immediately, seal your ballot in the proper envelope, and return it to a member of the clerk’s staff. No ballots may be taken from the clerk’s office.
Kenosha, Pleasant Prairie, Somers, and Racine city clerks:
Debra Salas, Clerk
City of Kenosha Municipal Building
625 – 52nd Street, Rm. 105
Kenosha, WI 53140
Jane M. Romanowski, Clerk
Pleasant Prairie Village Office
9915 – 39th Avenue
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
Timothy Kitzman, Clerk
Somers Town Office
7511 – 12th Street, Box 197
Somers, WI 53144-7220
Janice Johnson-Martin, Clerk
City of Racine Municipal Building
730 Washington Avenue, Rm. 103
Racine, WI 53403
Teacher Non-Renewal – Know Your Rights and Be Prepared
- Published on Mar 07, 2014
- Written by Joe Kiriaki-Executive Director
Please take note that what is included below represents the changes made to the law regarding renewals and non-renewals. This has been raised frequently during our building visits.
Public school teachers, including counselors, school psychologists, and others licensed by the Dept. of Public Instruction in Wisconsin, will receive notice of contract renewal for the next school year or will receive a notice of non-renewal. Non-renewal affects teachers, not support staff. Wis. Stats. 118.22 is the law outlining the timetable for non-renewal decisions. In order to non-renew a teacher, a board of education must take three steps in the following order:
Step 1: The board must send a written preliminary notice of consideration of non-renewal to the teacher prior to April 30, 2014.
Step 2: The preliminary notice must inform the teacher that he or she has a right to a private conference with the board if requested in writing within five calendar days, and the board must grant the conference if it is requested.
Step 3: If, after the private conference, the board decides to non-renew the teacher, the board must give the teacher written final notice no later than May 15, 2014.
If you receive a notice of consideration of non-renewal, take immediate action to protect your job and your employment records by doing the following:
- The same day you get the notice, call the KEA office, 262-654-2127.
- Give a copy of all correspondence pertaining to your pending non-renewal to the KEA office on the SAME DAY you receive it.
- Do NOT discuss the non-renewal with your administrators or Board members unless you have an Association Representative with you.
- Do NOT agree to anything without first consulting your Association Representative or contact the KEA office.
- If you are pushed for an immediate response, tell the individual you will be represented by the KEA and that you must first consult in depth with the KEA Executive Director. Let them know that you have been advised to NOT discuss the issues without a Union representative present.
- You have a legal right to have Union representation present at all board hearings or administrative meetings concerning a non-renewal, but you must request it.
REMEMBER…Wis. Stats. 118.22 only applies to full-time teachers. It does not apply to part-time teachers unless the statutory procedures are provided to part-timers through your master contract. If you do not receive written notices as described in this article and if you do not receive a letter of intent or contract before May 15, 2014, you must accept contract renewal by June 15, 2014.
You can self-renew by providing a written statement saying, Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 118.22(2), given that the District did not provide me with notice of renewal or refusal to renew my individual contract by May 15, my teaching contract now in force is to continue for the ensuing school year. I hereby accept the renewal of my 2013-14 individual contract for the 2014-15 school year. “You must date the statement, sign it, and deliver it to the KUSD Human Resources Dept. on or before June 15. It is suggested that you maintain a copy for your personal records. Some schools provide receipts upon delivery of the intent statement. Remember that it is your responsibility to protect your rights. Don’t wait until the last minute to check on your renewal procedures in the KUSD. If you have questions, contact the KEA.
Not all non-renewals are for disciplinary reasons, but do your best to stay positive and work with your Union representatives. Your receipt of a non-renewal notice represents the opinion of one administrator and not necessarily the opinion of all.
“Who Are Those Guys?!”
- Published on Mar 07, 2014
- Written by Scott Farnsworth-Editor
Or, “The Choice is Clear!”
Many of you may be too young to remember that line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it was made in reference to their pursuit by a group of Pinkertons – that private detective agency that, in its early days, were often “guns for hire” to companies for the purpose of breaking up union organizing efforts – then seen to be as much a threat to the powers that be as any criminal gang – probably more so. In other words – they weren’t nice guys (see the movie Matewan for an accurate, historical portrayal).
Our “Pinkertons” – gentlemen who are out to promote the interests of the private sector at the expense of the public interests and those of public employees, are Gary Kunich and Dan Wade. Their ties with local Tea Party activists can be neither denied nor overstated – though for all of Mr. Kunich’s claims to transparency and honesty, he has not made a direct admission to this connection. Neither has Mr. Wade.
Their commentaries on District issues, however, have made their positions quite clear. As I have pointed out in the past, Mr. Kunich’s references to Act 10 parrot the Walker Administration’s playbook virtually word for word – as it was promoted three years ago – contemporary evidence of the damage it has caused to public education systems to the contrary.
His repeated public references to the good work of Kenosha’s charter schools do not include his online position of welcoming any and all private providers. He couches this stance in terms of the “competition makes us stronger” argument, but fails to acknowledge the realities of the inequitable advantages that our state has given to private education providers – which, I must say, I find to undermine the “integrity” of his point. When he speaks of the superior performance of KUSD’s instrumentality charter schools and his desire to spread their approaches throughout the District, he never acknowledges that those schools, to date, have never dealt with the overall demographics of the District as a whole. To be clear, this is not by design – except in the case of Lakeview Academy, which does have entrance requirements that make its population “above average.” As the Curriculum Audit specifically referenced and, it should be said, in spite of its efforts to address the issue, KTEC’s population has remained non-representative of the District.
Finally, there is the simple fact that he has allowed Kristi Lacroix to create a link on his Facebook blog page to her current employer, the American Association of Educators (AAE), the anti-union union, and the person who filed suit against the contracts – those which, it should be remembered, Mr. Kunich believes to be illegal.
It must be said that Mr.Wade’s comments on Act 10 have actually been more balanced – but it cannot be overlooked that his wife is one of the most outspoken – literally! – members of the local Tea Party activists, and that she makes him directly connected to the same Kristi Lacroix with links to Mr. Kunich. While it may not be entirely fair to proffer “guilt by association,” it must be said that Mr. Wade has not distanced himself from the views of his family.
Additionally, a review of those who support the campaigns of these two candidates contain the names of local Tea Party activists – most notably, former School Board president Pam Stevens – she who was the biggest proponent of the disastrous Dr. Hancock – has contributed to Mr. Kunich’s campaign. Then, there is William Mauer, the school board candidate from last year, whose list of legal infractions might truly be called “scandalous.” Both Mr. Kunich and Mr. Wade have taken contributions from him. Why would a candidate who promotes his “integrity” and another who bases his qualifications of his background in law enforcement, accept such support?
While no one is perfect, the KEA’s endorsed candidates have, at least, proven their commitment to working for the best interests of Kenosha’s students. JoAnn Taube has spent her life working to provide Kenosha students with the best in public education, and Mike Falkofske’s motivations have always been with an eye on meeting the needs of all of Kenosha’s children.
They are worthy of your support – watch for opportunities to provide that support in the mere three-and-a-half weeks to the April 1st election!
Educator Effectiveness Meetings Cannot Be “Mandatory”
- Published on Mar 07, 2014
- Written by Scott Farnsworth-Editor
District Continues to Use Its Own Dictionary
We have received inquiries from several schools where, it seems, administrators are either confused about the nature of the Educator Effectiveness workshops being offered or are determined to have monetary damage suits brought against the District. No meetings outside of the workday are mandatory other than the two, one-hour meetings per month specified in the collective bargaining agreements. For any additional meetings to which staff are directed as being “required” to attend, attendees must be compensated. If not, the meeting cannot be “mandatory.”
We hope that this is a misunderstanding on the part of a few. It would be unfortunate if some in administration have taken what was supposed to be a step of positive support and, instead, have turned into one more example of how ready they are to abuse their authority at the slightest opportunity – again, a window into the future without the KEA.
KEA President Anne Knapp was a participant in the District’s initial training on Educator Effectiveness and responded to this week’s inquiries as follows:
“I am one of the trainers of the Educator Effectiveness system for the District. On January 25, KUSD employees were trained to be trainers and, in the next couple weeks, another 25 will be trained. Principals will be required to do 80 - 100 hours of training online, and then will get 2 chances to pass the evaluator certification test. They will be trained to evaluate, without bias, on evidence in an observation.
“Although, our district has been using the Charlotte Danielson model, after their training, principals will be looking for more specific things and will classify teachers into 4 levels of performance - Unsatisfactory, Basic, Proficient and Distinguished. We had 3 days of training and did condense it into 5 hours, to be offered as 2 two-and-a-half hour sessions.
“This evaluation system is coming from the state, and we have found it to be very extensive. So, to help classroom teachers wrap their heads around all they need to know, we are offering the sessions. The DPI is requiring teachers to do a couple modules on their website, but nobody is required to attend the sessions. The principals are passing on our recommendation/encouragement to attend these sessions because of all there is to know about the system, but you could just tackle everything on the DPI website instead. There is a lot to delve into on the site, but they have provided many articles/resources if you'd rather go through them between now and next school year.
“We looked at every way possible to try to do these trainings within the school day sometime this year, but there is limited PD time because of the make-up days, and the middle school schedule seemed the hardest to tackle. The trainings will start in April and will be offered throughout the summer.”
Please also be aware that the KEA is exploring the possibility of organizing our own series of workshops on the Educator Effectiveness model between now and the start of next year, with the intent of making them of shorter duration, immediately after the school day. We recognize what an important opportunity this is for members to gain an expertise in their responsibilities for the new model so that they can take a proactive role in securing the profession. Information will be following, probably in April.
Rumors and Inaccuracies… “Flourishing!”
- Published on Feb 28, 2014
- Written by Scott Farnsworth-Editor-Vice President
Building visit discussions have been very interesting since the onset of the current school board elections and the focus of the candidates on the issues surrounding our ratified contracts. I tried to address a number of the inaccuracies that have been stated about those agreements in last week’s editorial, but a new rumor seems to be circulating that is, understandably, of particular concern to younger members: that the contract is going to cause the District to have to lay off some 200 teachers.
To be succinct: this is NOT true.
In our conversations with Administration and the School Board, they have repeatedly stated that the last thing they want is to face the type of shortfalls that led to the layoffs of the past two years. In that regard, we asked and were reassured this past summer that the District was being particularly careful to not rehire more elementary positions than it could afford to retain. To be clear – and to also put the credit where it is truly due – it is you who both bought and brought back those renewed positions through your contributions to retirement and health insurance premiums (in point of fact, every education program that has been maintained in Wisconsin has been born on the backs of employees since revenue caps were passed by the State Legislature back in 1995 – which is why Wisconsin’s average teacher salary, for example, has slipped from the top 5 in the nation to 21st, and below the national average, over that time span).
When negotiating the teachers’ contract, we reached the agreement of the $1,100 bonus payment based on it being the maximum with which the District was comfortable without having a negative impact on its overall budget. While we certainly wished to maintain the salary schedule’s steps and lanes, we were shown quite clearly that the District did not have the funding to do so without running a deficit. Since we also were not interested in pushing the District to a level that would require the loss of positions, we agreed to the bonus expressly to avoid any such loss.
This rumor would seem to be just another scare tactic being circulated by those who oppose the contracts. The only rationale we can perceive for the numbers stated is that someone took the dollar value of the settlement and divided by the average cost of a new teacher position, including benefits, which would come out to about 200. It assumes the District could not have afforded any increase in salaries whatsoever.
Since that negotiations, several School Board members have expressed a desire to search the budget for the ability to find further funding to address what they recognize as overcrowded classes at the secondary level. So, to be clear, the KEA negotiated carefully in everyone’s best interest, and every indication from the District and the School Board is that there are no plans to lay off anyone – in fact, they seek to restore more positions.
Finding that funding will not be easy. In spite of some candidates’ claims, education funding has suffered significantly under the Walker cuts. At the KABA School Board Forum, Gary Kunich cited the “tools provided by Act 10” and stated that districts who “used those tools are flourishing.” Recently, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance – not the most liberal of groups, to say the least – released an updated report in which it attempted to rationalize that provisions in Act 10 had made up the $450 million is state aid cuts, but they skirted discussion of the 2,312 staff cuts that had to be made by districts to reach balanced budgets. “Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson said the report [was] ‘really straining to find a silver lining in what's happening to our state.’ Parents with children in public schools are concerned about overcrowded classrooms and the loss of experienced teachers, he said.” (Bauer, Scott, (Pioneer Press), “Wisconsin: Report says cuts to teachers offset state aid reduction,” 01/06/14)
So, apparently, others are experiencing the same level of “flourishing” as we are – or perhaps some have simply redefined the word “flourishing,” – as they did “block” – or “secret,” as it pertains to email accounts? If we hope to continue to repair the damage done to trust between employer and employees, and to services that students deserve, then it is vital that we get out April 1st to elect those who truly support public education.