top of page

Para and Teacher Bargaining

Para Bargaining


The HEA Para Bargaining team met with the HSD team on Tuesday, May 30. Some very minor language changes were finalized (see below). HEA's first ask of $1.50/hour for each cell in the matrix for both years of the contract, and the district continue to pay the insurance at the single premium rate. The District countered with 0.5% in 2023-2024, and 0.5% (1.0% if all levies pass) in 2024-2025 and no increase in insurance money. So you don't have to do the math, that is an increase of 7 cents an hour at the bottom of the scale, and 12 cents an hour at the top of the scale. It doesn't come close to market, which paras have never gotten to, and it certainly doesn't come close to funding the possible amount of health insurance ($9.80/month increase in salary vs. $125.00/month increase in health insurance). The team declined the offer and agreed to come back to the table when we return in August.


HEA/HSD Negotiations for 23-25 - ParaEducator. 5/19/2023, updated 5/31/2023


3.2 Pertinent Information: The District shall notify the Association on a monthlyweekly basis of new hires, including the name, address, position, salary, and hours. It shall be the responsibility of the Association to send a designated representative to the District office to obtain this information. Tentative Agreement (TA) - housekeeping on notification to HEA


7.1 Work Day: A paid coffee break of fifteen (15) continuous minutes will be given during every three (3) hours of scheduled continuous work. This break shall occur approximately halfway through the three (3) hours of scheduled work. Flexibility is allowed through mutual agreement by the employee and supervisor. Tentative Agreement (TA) - clarifying language on break times


7.4 Substitutes: Para Educator employees may be given the option to substitute for a the teacher(s) for whom they work in the event that the teacher is absent. Tentative Agreement (TA) - provide more flexibility of when a para may substitute for a teacher. 5/30 discussed that this was an OPTION for paras, they may say they do not want to sub in a classroom.


New Section: If minimum class size standards are exceeded at the K-5 level, the district will provide one and a half (1.5) hours of certified paraprofessional classroom assistance for each student over the minimum standard, up to four (4) additional students. No classroom will enroll more than four (4) additional students above the minimum standard. HEA withdrew; not added as new language


7.5 Summer Work: Employees shall be given first consideration for Para Educator summer work within the school district. Employees must submit a written request to the personnel office on or before May 1st in order to be considered for summer work. If hired, they shall be paid according to the wage scale provided in Appendix A and have all of the benefits of this Collective Bargaining Agreement. Para Educators may turn down any offers of summer employment. Tentative Agreement (TA) - clarifying language. Discussed that paras who volunteer for summer school will not be eligible to earn accrued leave or utilize accrued leave.Added this language 5/30, TA


7.7 Professional Development: The District will contribute $8,000 per school year to a professional development pool for Para Educators. Para Educators may apply for reimbursementa grant of up to $300 for Para Educator professional development training. Tentative Agreement(TA) - clarifying languageHuman Resources will approve professional development training and such training will be posted on Frontline. Grant applications will be submitted to and approved by the LMC and sent to the District’s Professional Development committee for informational purposes. Tentative Agreement (TA) - new language that better reflects current practice


8.2 Definition of Immediate Family: Include "chosen family" for bereavement and sick leave. Sick leave means a leave of absence with pay for an illness suffered by an employee or immediate or chosen family. No agreement. Utilize current contract language.


8.2D Sick leave Donations: During the school year any employee may, at the assistant'semployee’s discretion, donate not more than two (2) days, nor less than one-half (1/2) day, of sick leave to an employee who is in need and will exhaust sick leave due to a personal illness, temporary disability, or a serious health condition of the employee’s spouse/domestic partner or minor child (under age 18) qualifying FMLA event. Use of sick leave donations for a qualifying FMLA event for a parent or for purposes of parental leave can not exceed four weeks. The total of such donated sick leave shall not exceed sick leave accrued by the recipient at the time the illness began. Limitations herein shall not prevent the Administration from allowing greater consideration if extenuating circumstances exist. Tentative Agreement (TA) - additional language on qualifying events for sick leave; clarifying language


8.4 Bereavement Leave: All employees shall be allowed up to five days absence for deaths in the immediate or chosen family per school year without loss of pay, per incident. In the event the employee needs additional time up to 5 days may be awarded at the discretion of their immediate supervisor. In addition, one on one Para Educators will be allowed one day absence in the event of the death of a student for whom they are currently providing direct care. All employees shall be allowed up to five days absence for deaths in the immediate or chosen family without loss of pay, per incident. In the event the employee needs additional time up to 5 days may be awarded at the discretion of their immediate supervisor. In addition, one on one Para Educators will be allowed one day absence in the event of the death of a student for whom they are currently providing direct care. No agreement. Utilize current contract language.


8.8 Jury Duty/Civic Duty: Employees will promptly inform the District when notified of a jury duty summons and will cooperate in requesting a postponement of service if warranted by business demands. Each employee who is under proper summons as a juror shall collect all fees and allowances payable as a result of the service and forward the fees to the business office.  Juror fees shall be applied against the amount due the employee from the employer.  However, if an employee elects to charge juror time off against  personal leave, the employee shall not be required to remit juror fees to the employer.  In no instance is an employee required to remit to employer any expense or mileage allowance paid his/her by the court.    Tentative Agreement (TA) - clarifying language. Employees will promptly inform the District when they receive a subpoena. An employee subpoenaed to serve as a witness shall collect all fees and allowances payable as a result of the service and forward the fees to the business office or may elect to charge their witness time off against  personal leave, provided the employee has been subpoenaed on the employer’s behalf or the subpoena is for a legal proceeding which is unrelated to the personal or financial matters of the employee.  Witness fees shall be applied against the amount due the employee from his employer.   In no instance is an employee required to remit to the  employer any expense or mileage allowances paid by  the court.   Tentative Agreement (TA) - clarifying language that employees would not be eligible for civic duty if personal or financial gain


8.10 Military Leave: Employees shall be granted leave for service in the military in accordance with state and federal law. The District will comply with all federal regulations regarding the employee's return to service following military leave. (MCA 10-1-1009) Tentative Agreement (TA) - clarifying language


9.6 Travel Expense: (MOU) All employees required to travel as part of their duties will receive reimbursement for travel at the rate established by Montana law. When an employee is required to travel as part of his/her duties, time spent in travel shall count as hours worked, including travel from one worksite to another and travel which is required outside the employee's normal workday. This reimbursement will not include traveling to meetings such as Professional Learning Communities or training opportunities. This reimbursement will not include traveling between a school day paraprofessional position to a SACC program position,.Tentative Agreement (TA) - incorporate language from MOU


9.7 Retirement Benefit: Any retiring Para Educator with twenty (20) years or more of Helena School District #1 experience will receive $6,000.00 in termination pay. Discussed if intent was for service to be continuous or not to qualify for the retirement incentive. Need to review other contracts. 5/30-Changed the language to say "Any retiring Para Educator with twenty (20) cumulative school years or more of Helena School District Para Educator experience will receive $6,000 in termination pay. A school year is defined as eighty-five (85) or more days worked. TA


10.4 Grievance Procedure: Proposal to change timelines at Level 2-4 from ten to five business days. Tentative Agreement (TA) - added timeline to Level 1; modified all timelines to 5 business days


11.1 Evaluation: Interest in utilizing the drafted evaluation rubric that would mirror evaluation tool used for teachers. HEA/HSD will work on this together.


12.1 Seniority: For purposes of this Agreement, seniority will be defined byas date of hirewith as the total number of hours of continuous employment within the bargaining unit. Tentative Agreement (TA) - modified language to align with current practice


Article 12.1G Posting Available Positions: Posting consists of placing the position on the District website. and sending the posting notice via electronic mail to one HEA representative at each building as designated by the Association President. Problems associated with posting positions should be brought to the attention of the Association President. Tentative Agreement (TA) - removed language no longer in practice


Salary Matrix: Para Educators who meet the Title 1, highly qualified requirements (completed two years of study at an institution of higher education, obtained an associate’s (or higher) degree, or successful completion of the Paraprofessionals Achieving Standards Successfully (PASS) training) will earn an additional .65 cents an hour. Tentative Agreement (TA) - defined highly qualified


Salary Matrix: If a Para Educator is employed in two different pay classifications [i.e. “Regular Para Educator” (2 hrs. /day) and “Level 1 Para Educator” (3 hrs./day),] the Para Educator will be paid at the pay classification rate that is the higher of the two (2) pay classifications. This shall go into effect immediately upon an official schedule change, or after two weeks of performing those duties consistently. comprises 50% or greater of the total work time assigned to the Para Educator. (In this example the Para Educator would be paid for all 5 hours at the Level 1 Para Educator rate.) If the time worked by a Para Educator in two different pay classifications is equal [i.e. Regular Para Educator (3 hrs./day) and Level 1 Para Educator (3 hrs./day)] the Para Educator will be compensated at the higher classification pay rate. Still in discussion. 5/30--Retained the new language, noting that the SACC program is not effected by this language as it is a separate funding source. TA


Salary Matrix. HEA ask 5/19/23: Increase of $1.50 to all cells of the wage schedule for 23-24 SY. Increase of $1.50 to all cells of the wage schedule for 24-25 SY. HSD to prepare counter proposal for meeting on 5/30/2023, 8am. Counter offer HSD 5/30/23: 0.5% 2023-2024, 0.5% (or 1.0% if all levies pass) 2024-2025, no additional insurance money.


Teacher Bargaining


Teacher Bargaining May 30, 2023


Roll Call: HPS: Josh McKay, Brian Cummings, Keri Mizell, Joslyn Davidson, Janelle Mickelson, Jill Nyman, Nick Radley, Cal Boyle, Brett Zanto, Wynn Randall. HEA: Jane Shawn, Anna Alger, Paul Phillips, Erika McMillin, Adam Clinch, Jonna Schwartz, Jake Warner.


4:00 Reviewed Norms


4:03 HPS, response to HEA proposal


- “The Helena School District Administration and Board of Trustees greatly value the contribution of all employee groups to the experiences of students.” We greatly value employees—each employee group—and students. We also appreciate HEA and teacher contributions and what they facilitate for students in our community.


- Regardless, we have a deficit. “The reality of the current budget deficit does not diminish that acknowledgement.”


- Value experiences and programs.


- The upcoming school year is significant for long term planning.


Interlocal deficit summary: this is what our savings account is:

- $6, 086, 369 in interlocal (May 2023)

- Programming changes = #3,200,000 for 2023-2024—we still have this as a deficit. We will draw on savings for this.

- $2, 886, 369 = balance at end of 2023-2024

- $900,000 is what we could save and transfer (various contracts, etc.)

- $3,786,369 – balance for end of 2023-2024

- $4,300,000 deficit for 2024-2025 (this is what we need to do more efficiently. We need to reprogram district.)

- $514,000 in the red at end of 2024-2025

- $3.2-4.3 deficit we need to solve. The only way we can fix that is by programming. Income doesn’t grow as much as we would want it to.

- $900,000 is what we could save again 2024-2025


Cost out of HEA proposal 23/24 = 2.5% increase = $945,155 cost to district. 24/25 = 3.0% = $2,121,495 cost to district


Insurance increase 23/24 ($125 per month) = $861,000 cost to district. 24/25 = $861,000 cost to district.


Total ask = $4,788,650

What does this mean to interlocal? Right now, we have 6 million and that 3.2 million is accounted for. Adding in the ask, we would go $4,402,281 in the negative at the end of 25/26, whereas we are hoping to be in the positive $400,000 beginning 25/26.


“Our district has some difficult planning days ahead. We need to solve a budget deficit by reprogramming our district in various ways, which will be difficult for stakeholders.”


HPS counter:

- Lane movement: one lane per year maximum

- 2 20-minute supervision sessions starting in 2024-2025

- .5% in 23/24, .5% in 24/25 with an additional .5% in 24/25 if levies pass

- No increase on insurance

- Keep previous TA items

- Package offer


HEA: is it fair that this most recent proposal’s lone change is that it went from 4 20-minute supervisions to 2?


HSD: Yes.


HEA: Is it also correct that none of HEA’s asks are accepted in this proposal?


HEA: Regarding budget consensus committee work, we had a meeting May 18. At that meeting it was determined that we would have another meeting before school was out. WE haven’t seen that invite. Is this something the district is committed to? (Yes.) It’s hard to accept that the district is invested in this committee given this fact. We would feel better if there was progress/movement/concrete things here.


The first figures take into account the positions that have been cut for next year?


HSD: It incorporates those, but isn’t the savings for those. The 6 million is the balance. The next is the deficit we will pay for. The third figure is the balance.


- $6, 086, 369 in interlocal (May 2023)

- Programming changes = #3,200,000 for 2023-2024—we still have this as a deficit. We will draw on savings for this.

- $2, 886, 369 = balance at end of 2023-2024


This reflects district wide savings: closing RBLC, reducing budgets, savings through retirements, combo classes, etc.


HEA: We’re going to spend increases from state plus interlocal money? (yes). What are contracted services?


HSD: If you have cash leftover in budgeted funds, you can transfer a certain amount (I.e., transportation) into interlocal.


HEA: so, the 3.7 million is the hoped for balance. Then, we will use all general fund money, plus increase money, and still need to take 4.3 million out of savings to get to 2025? (Yes.)


HSD: if the levies pass, it’s a 3.7 million deficit for 24/25. If they don’t, it’s 4.3 million


HEA: what levies—general fund high school and elementary?


HSD: probably just elementary. The high school levy is hard to run with declining enrollment. The state doesn’t let us run a levy if our enrollment is going down. If we run a high school levy, it won’t be big.


HEA: what about the security and tech levy?


HSD: we don’t know until we go through the reprogramming piece. We don’t know what we would spend that on because we haven’t developed it yet. The board intends to run those next spring, but what they are paying for, we don’t have the exact.


HEA: if we run them and pass them, we’ll be better off. But if we don’t have this figured in, we don’t have a clear picture.


HSD: it would help us in terms of counselors and nurses; we could move those salaries to safety and security. We could move principal salaries to safety and security. The help in the general fund will come from what we are paying there for Chromebooks, tech, etc. We pay about $1 million for elementary tech and $500,000 for high school tech.


HEA: when you continue to hit your savings at $3 million per year, what is the greatest cause of the deficit spending?


HSD: everyday, all of what we do every day. All items collectively add up. Revenue is not keeping pace. You’ve heard the stories: we knew the budget was bad when our previous Supt. was here. Then COVID came and gave some relief. And now here we are.


HEA: everything is costing more than before. But, what’s really taking the greatest hit is your labor group.


HSD: every program/class is important to the person in charge of it. It’s an overall problem that our budget consensus group needs to work through. We put our heart and soul into our classrooms.


HEA: in the numbers you run, does that include anticipated cuts for next year?


HSD: No. We want to get through next year to know where we are at.


HEA: is there reprogramming being considered that could bring the deficit to 0?


HSD: No. The consensus workshop, setting priorities for the future, we have high hopes for that planning.


HEA: before COVID, what were we doing then? Were we pulling from interlocal prior to COVID? Did we prepare earlier? Something unforeseen?


HSD: interlocal balances were smaller pre-COVID. We transferred a lot during COVID. We knew the day was coming, so we started putting into interlocal.


HEA: were we running at a deficit prior to COVID?


HSD: no, but we were headed in that direction. Those were the slides from years ago/hitting a cliff/tree.


HEA: what did we do with the previous superintendent?


HSD: Watkins, not refilling positions, attritions, but you wouldn’t see those. Adjusted staffing at HHS. We upscale and downscale staffing every year, based on enrollment. But programs are important, jobs are important.


HEA: there was once a plan to cut by 7 teachers at HHS for several years. We feel like staffing hasn’t been adjusted. What has been done year-over-year to try to combat this? We’ve known about this for a decade.


HSD: I don’t know that we can recreate things from the past. We have the information that is in front of us.


HEA: the history is important. Operational decisions are not in teachers’ hands. Admin. makes those decisions. Now admin is asking teachers to take the hit for what feels like poor decisions.


It feels like the rhetoric is if we do .5% and .5%, we can fix this. But if you look historically, year after year, our increases haven’t kept up with inflation. This now feels like a regular ask. If we’d kept up with inflation, our starting salary would be $47,000, not $42,000. We have to maintain the profession of teaching; thus, we need to maintain the scale. Our biggest concern is keeping teaching a choice for teachers in this district. We can’t make it standard operating procedure to impact teachers every time there’s a problem.


We recognize we are trying to solve current and future issues, but for clarification, this proposal is a similar ask—the ten years before COVID, teachers have taken less than the state increases 8 out of 10 years. So, taking less hasn’t fixed the issue.


HEA: the $945,000 to cover salary ask—does this reflect the number of employees for next year? And is the $2,121,000 based on the same figures/no reductions?


HSD: Yes.


HEA: this is mostly a membership question—those going through our notes, many feel like we have already given too much. Looking at what we have adjusted and given, suspending tuition and fees, sabbaticals for two years, keeping hourly the same, freezing if board re-cert doesn’t happen, no new Montessori stipends, etc. We’ve tried to move toward you. The question is “what is the district doing to move toward us/meet in the middle?”


HSD: Good question. We’ve shown that finances are difficult. That’s the hard part. The money we have isn’t enough to pay for increases. What can we give that’s not a financial cost? That’s hard. We don’t have anything. What are we giving—not a whole lot.


HEA: It’s hard to see other districts with similar problems come back with different adjustments. What makes other districts different?


HSD: Their budget deficits are hard, too. Other AAs are struggling.


HEA: But those districts are still getting, for example, a 4% increase. How does Bozeman do this?


HSD: we don’t know what their insurance package, workdays, etc. look like. It’s not just salary.


HEA: maybe transparency would help. If we could share what HSD has compared to other AAs getting raises, we’d be able to understand better what we are getting out of any compromise.


HSD: we have some figures on insurance—ours is more generous. It’s hard to get transparency since districts do things differently. We want to use our consensus group to build what we want to do.


HEA: the question we are asked is if we accept the offer of .5% and .5%, is the deficit solved? Our answer is no, that there will still be prioritizing and cuts. Is this accurate?


HSD: yes. No matter what we do, we still need to plan around the red.


HEA: how does Bozeman continue to run a deficit?


HSD: it means cuts and reductions. Bozeman is hoping to use the open enrollment legislation to help them.


HEA: one lane per year clarification. By doing this, the end result would be that teachers would have lower lifetime earnings?


HSD: this gives us a predictable way to plan.


HEA: we saw a large wave because of the new scale. It’s hard to know if it’s the structure of the system or just an initial surge. Who actually uses this restriction and has had it in place for years?


When we met last time, we were asked for 4 20-minute sessions. Now we are at 2 sessions. We were told last time that 4 20-minute sessions would mean a para reduction in each building. We’ve tried to do the math on that. We don’t see how that would result in any reduction in the para force. What does the 2 20-minute supervision session look like at each level?


HSD: with the amount of staff in high schools, people helping out with bus duty, before and after school duties, with high school staff, it will take a while to cycle through. It’s to help out in light of safety concerns.


HEA: so, we are talking about the minutes before and after school, not supervisory duties during lunch time?


HSD: correct.


HEA: so you would have more safety and more 6th assignment freedom. What about middle school—what does it look like?


HSD: in the middle school, there isn’t much savings because we don’t have as many paras. It’s a different situation. We could use it for before and after school supervision.


HEA: so, also not a lunch assignment?


HSD: no.


HEA: what about elementary level?


HSD: before school and after school supervision. Playground. We could also use it at recess.


HEA: Instead of putting two paras on playground for morning recess, you’d put 2-4 teachers on the playground?


HSD: it’s a rotational piece.


HEA: are we losing paras by doing this?


HSD: hard to say. At the elementary level, actually K-12, it can only come out of three pots: facilities, programming, staffing. I’d guess all three will be reduced in the next 2 years. There is flexibility in that—if we lose staffing at any level, which we will, that may mean a para needs his/her break during recess and we need to plan for that.


HEA: does this flexibility include doing a Special—music or PE? We can see with this flexibility becoming music, PE, or library time. We haven’t gotten an answer as to whether the district is planning to cut music and PE.


HSD: it’s going to be the district doing its due diligence with consensus team to work within accreditation standards. There’s lots of things in that and we do many things that don’t fit.


HEA: could middle and high school supervision periods fall on a teacher’s prep?


HSD: yes.


HEA: for elementary, it could be before, after, or during the day (not lunch)?


HSD: yes, but programming will be addressed through the consensus committee. Depending what budget consensus committee recommends, that could change.


HEA: can we amend the language to say that supervision can only take place before and after school?


HSD: we would entertain a proposal.


HEA: based on needs, teachers could be doing this once a week or once a month?


HSD: It’s going to look different in every building.


HEA: is this 2 20-minute sessions per week?


HSD: yes.


HEA caucus.


5:53 HEA counter proposal


We can’t accept the proposal. Counter proposal:


- 23/24: 2.5% increase

- 24/25: 2.5% increase

- Insurance costs covered both years at single premium rate

- Suspend tuition and fees and sabbatical for two years

- Restrict lane movement on lanes 1-4 to one lane per year for this contract period. Current language will then be reinstated. (If you get a master’s or board cert, you’d move to that lane)

- 20-minute supervision is a no

- Freeze if board certification isn’t up-to-date

- Sunset Montessori stipends with current teachers, no new stipends









Comments


bottom of page