Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 29
Lucia Mar teachers to vote on TAP again
BY AMY ASMAN
Members of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association are set to vote Sept. 27 on a new agreement that could potentially change the way TAP—an incentive-based education program—is implemented at district school sites.
Funded primarily by grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund, TAP is an educational reform program that aims to improve teacher and student performance through professional development, merit-based pay, and other resources.
Association representatives met several times this year with district administrators and a neutral third party mediator to negotiate some changes to TAP. In a June interview with the Sun, teachers association president Donna Kandel said the union originally voted to implement TAP under the assumption that it would end on June 30, 2012. District officials, however, said the program was intended to run for five years, as outlined in the requirements for the federal grant.
Now both parties seem to be on the same page, more or less.
“I’m excited we were able to work together with the association leadership to craft a really strong agreement,” district superintendent Jim Hogeboom said. “I’m optimistic that the teachers will ratify it.”
If passed, the new addendum would place a sunset clause on TAP at the Lucia Mar Unified School District and give school staffers the ability to vote to opt out of the program.
The new agreement would extend TAP through June 2015, when the Teacher Incentive Fund grant is set to expire, and allow teachers to opt out of the program with a simple majority vote.
“TAP is supposed to be a support to our teachers,” Hogeboom said, “so if a majority of the teachers [at a school] don’t want to do it, they shouldn’t have to do it.”
To opt out of TAP, the school would have to submit a petition with 30 percent of the teachers’ signatures and then pass a majority vote.
“The new agreement addresses some of the concerns we had about TAP,” teachers association president Donna Kandel said. “It’s about protecting our contract, having a sunset date, and having a procedure to opt out of the program if it isn’t working at a certain site.
The new agreement also includes a clause stating that the district won’t pay for TAP with money from the general fund, which, Kandel said, “is something that has never been in writing before.”
According to the district, none of the money for TAP has come out of the general fund.
Additionally, the new agreement includes a clause stating the district will use the approximately $300,000 saved by the Teacher Incentive Fund grant to pay for teacher and classified staff bonuses—if the state doesn’t cut the maximum amount of per pupil spending from the district’s budget.
“I don’t think the state is going to cut us at that full amount … because that would put school districts throughout the state out of business,” Hogeboom said, calling the bonuses “highly likely.”
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