Archive for February, 2012

AFSCME! AFSCME! Read All About It!

February 20, 2012

From the Sun Post;

The first of six employee bargaining units has agreed on a new two-year contract with Robbinsdale District 281 for 2011-13. The District 281 School Board on Feb. 6 approved a new two-year contract for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 5 – Local 499, which includes office employees in District 281.

The agreement, which is retroactive to July 1, 2011, includes a 1.25 percent wage increase in the first year, but no increase in the second year. The district contribution for health insurance will be increased b y 2.5 percent in the first year and 2.63 percent in the second year.

The district is still negotiating with five other bargaining groups: Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers (which also includes educational assistants); Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which includes separate contracts for bus drivers and custodians, and also for child nutrition employees; and principals. All of the district’s union contracts expired June 30, 2011. Employees in the bargaining groups have continued to work under the previous contracts.

All new two-year contract settlements will be retroactive to July 1, 2011.

It’s so nice to negotiate without that stupid January 15 Deadline!

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Our New “Lottery” is Here!

February 11, 2012

Well, at their January 23 school board meeting District 281 came up with their “fair” and “open” magnet school kindergarten enrollment policy. This just can’t be a simple thing of course…..

First let’s define some terms;

“Children of Employees” means school-age children of current employed staff who hold permanent positions and excludes independent contractors, temporary, substitute and seasonal employees.

“Employee” means an individual currently employed by Robbinsdale Area Schools in a permanent position and excludes independent contractors, temporary, substitute and  seasonal employees.

“Federal Lunch Subsidy” means the family has an approved application with Robbinsdale Area Schools for the National School Lunch Program, otherwise known as free or reduced lunch or the federal lunch subsidy.

“Licensed Classroom Teacher” means an employee who holds a current Minnesota license and is currently teaching in a district classroom.

“Minnesota Choice is Yours” means a student residing within the legal boundary of Minneapolis who has applied to the program and whose family qualifies for the federal lunch subsidy.

“Non-resident Student” means the student’s primary resident address is outside of the legal boundary of Robbinsdale Area Schools.

“Primary Resident Address” means the address of residence for the student. Students having more than one residence will identify as primary the residence where they live more than 50% of the time. The primary residence of students with parents who are divorced, legally separated or residing separately, and who have joint physical custody, is designated by the students’ parents.

“Qualified Applicant” means all parts of the most recent magnet school application were completed and submitted before the application deadline. 

“Racially Identifiable School” means the enrollment of minority students is more than 20 percentage points above the enrollment of minority students in the district for that level (elementary, middle school or high school).

“Resident Student” means the student’s primary resident address is within the legal boundary of Robbinsdale Area Schools.

“Sibling” means the applicant shares at least one parent or guardian with another child who is currently enrolled at the magnet school at the time of the lottery, and would be concurrently enrolled in the magnet school with the applicant.

“Walk Boundaries” means the area surrounding a school that is designated by the district as an area where district bus transportation is not provided.

OK do you follow all that? Now let’s check out the provisions for automatic enrollment;

Siblings

1. Qualified applicants with siblings currently enrolled in the magnet school and, for Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School only, in the Middle School Immersion Program, shall be enrolled automatically.

2. In the event that siblings from the same grade apply, only one name shall be
entered into the lottery and if selected, each of those students shall be admitted.

Licensed classroom teachers

1. Currently employed licensed classroom teachers who complete and submit an application before the annual application deadline may have their kindergarten child enrolled automatically at the magnet school where they are employed.

2. Students admitted under this provision do not displace other students admitted through the lottery process or students on the wait list for the school.

Other Provisions and Priorities

Resident students

1. Seats equal to the percentage of resident students attending Robbinsdale Area Schools shall be reserved for resident applicants.

2. In the event that resident applicants do not meet or exceed the number of reserved seats in the resident category, the openings shall be filled in order from the non-resident wait list.

3. Seats shall be reserved for resident students who live within the school walk boundaries.

a. Seats shall be reserved for applicants who live within the district walk boundaries of the magnet school.

b. The number of reserved seats shall be based on the ratio of walkers to neighborhood elementary schools.

c. Priority shall be given to applicants qualifying for the federal lunch subsidy within this category.

d. In the event that the number of applicants who walk to school at the time of the lottery does not meet the number    reserved for walkers, the seats shall be available for other resident applicants.   

4. Seats shall be reserved for resident students living in attendance areas of neighborhood schools nearing capacity.

a. Seats shall be reserved for resident students living in designated elementary attendance areas in order to reduce   enrollment in schools that are near capacity.

b. If this category is needed, the number of seats reserved for this purpose shall be determined annually by the district prior to the lottery.

c. Seats equal to the percentage of district students qualifying for the federal lunch subsidy shall be reserved for applicants qualifying for the federal lunch subsidy within this category. 

d. In the event that the number of applicants in this category does not meet the number reserved, the seats shall be available for other resident applicants.

Non-Resident Students

1. Seats equal to the percentage of non-resident students in the school district shall be reserved for non-resident applicants.

2. Priority shall be awarded to non-resident applicants qualifying for the federal lunch subsidy and shall include students enrolled through the Minnesota Choice is Yours program.

3. In the event that non-resident applicants do not meet or exceed the number of reserved seats, the openings shall be filled in order from applicants on the wait list.

Applicants Qualifying for Federal Lunch Subsidy

1. Seats equal to the percentage of district students eligible for the federal lunch subsidy shall be reserved for applicants qualifying for the federal lunch subsidy

2. The number of applicants granted priority in other categories by qualifying for federal lunch subsidy will not exceed the percentage of district students eligible for the federal lunch subsidy.

3. The number of seats reserved for resident applicants solely qualifying for the federal lunch subsidy shall be determined after subtracting the number of non-resident and resident applicants selected under other priority categories, and automatically enrolled students who are also eligible for the federal lunch
subsidy.

4. Priority shall be granted to applicants from racially identifiable elementary schools.

5. In the event that the number of resident applicants who qualify for the federal lunch subsidy does not meet the number reserved for this purpose, the seats shall be available for other resident applicants.

Now based on trying to digest this garbage we have three pieces of advice to give to parents who want to enroll their kids in a magnet program;

1) Get laid off from your job so you qualify for free or reduced lunch.

2) Move within walking distance of the Olson or RSI.

3) Move to Minneapolis

What a joke.

Policy 599

One More Letter to the Editor

February 11, 2012

Here’s a letter to the Sun Post regarding Aldo Sicoli’s contract and the bus driver issue;

To the editor: I am appalled.

Currently dist. 281 is considering contracting out our dedicated bus drivers. The message from the district is that the district could save a lot of money, and that money is needed for the classroom.

The district has told the drivers that the money will be needed as the district faces cuts in the future. If this is true, then why are the superintendent and school board not leading by example? The Board recently approved wage increases of 1.5 percent each year for three years for the superintendent.

This wage for our superintendent places him in the upper brackets of superintendent compensation. Other bargaining units in the district have also negotiated wage and other increases in this round of negotiations.

The district has been asking the drivers to take significant pay cuts at the threat of losing their jobs. The district is only asking transportation to take cuts, while everyone else gets raises. Our drivers are actually paid right in line with area school districts that do their own busing. They are not overcompensated.

If the district leadership wants drivers that play an integral role in our community and schools to take cuts, then be leaders and ask not from others what you will not do yourself. I guess one board member already said what the district thinks about our bus drivers, they are the “low-hanging fruit.”

Howard Wolff

Robbinsdale