Sunday Notes July 23rd 2017 -Save LHS – LSAA No Contract

Save Lowell High School

Good Luck to the group formed to save the current Lowell High School site and getting the signatures to get the question on the November ballot.

The fact well respected Atty. Michael Gallagher is chairman and other officers are NOT ALL Belvidere residents hopefully stops the silly notion that this issue is the City versus Belvidere. Many people throughout the City myself included based on cost and many on central location are opposed to moving the school to Cawley. In my view this has NEVER BEEN AN NIMBY ISSUE!!

MSBA Kicked backed Preferred Schematic

What I have found looking at MSBA projects that is hopeful to me, is that there is president for the MSBA to kick back the Preferred solution based on the number of people that have contacted them and possibly because of the school committee vote.

I found that they have done so in the past when there is concern by a community in a regional school. I haven’t found one for a city or found a split like I believe exist here in the city.

The MSBA in responding to the Minuteman School Issue stated they hoped things could be worked out.

To be clear, they also very clearly note that they do NOT REQUIRE A UNANIMOUS Vote to proceed.

A Question of Fairness I

I’ve been pretty clear about my concern for the budget of the School Dept. and the increase in cost. I’ve also been clear that School Committee members have very little input into hirings for Lowell Public Schools per the Ed Reform Act but they do have a say in contract negotiations.

Since I’m not yet a School Committee member, I’m trying to better understand the way the system is structured and I try to research and see what positions are covered under what contracts. While reviewing the different contracts I’ve found somethings that just don’t seem equal or fair.

The School Committee agreed to a new four (4) year Collective Bargaining Agreement with the UTL (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 and July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020) which consisted of the following :

There is a union that hasn’t yet reached a contract agreement.

The LSAA union is made up of 190 members. The LSAA Union consist of Directors, Coordinators, Assistant Directors, Assistant Coordinators, Assistant Principals, LHS House Deans, Department Chairs, Specialists, Evaluation Team Chairpersons, School Psychologists, School Social Workers, Guidance Counselors and the School Attendance Officer and to date there is NO contract agreement with this group

I’ve heard that they are looking to receive exactly what the UTL and their associated groups received but the present School Committee isn’t willing to give them more than a 3 year deal and almost half (around 4.5-5%) of what the much larger UTL Union received.

It appears the School Committee is willing to go into the fact finding phrase of mediation with this union.

This is the same Union that The Department of Labor Relations in Boston has found probable cause to believe that the School Committee committed a violation of the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Law (Chapter 150E) over the parking location issue. The City and Union will go to a full Hearing on April 4, 2018 unless they able to resolve the case before then.

Maybe the Committee is trying to force the Union to resolve the labor charge by holding up the contract? That seems unfair and many of these positions, especially the Guidance Counselors, School Psychologists and School Social Workers supply much needed services.

The previous School Committee had to pay $800,000 when they let a grievance build up and refused to settle a contract. What is that old saying “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
― Edmund Burke

A question of Fairness II

There are a handful of positions in the Lowell School Dept. that are NOT contracted or union positions. Among them – The Human Resources Department including the Human Resources Director ,Operations and Maintenance Director,Technology Dept. and maybe a few more.

They are treated like the “Ordinance” personal on the City side.

The one that stands out to me is the Director of Human Resources. It is as far has I can find, the only direct report to the Superintendent who doesn’t have a title of Asst. Supt. or have a contract. If this person is in fact the person who is responsible for handling all of the HR functions (job postings, evaluations, Cori checks, exit interviews, Insurance information ,retirements , unemployment information etc.) then in my view the position should have a contract. I believe that would be up to the Superintendent to present.

The HR Director at the Greater Lowell Tech has a contract that runs from July of this year through June 2020. The Tech has a lot smaller staff than the Lowell Public has but it shows the importance of the position.

Boston has an Asst. Supt. in that role while Worcester, Springfield, Fall River and Brockton have Directors and a few of them have contracts.

Since School Committee’s have no say into that position it is up to the Supt. to bring that forward if he chooses but based on the position (regardless of who is in it) I would support the creation of a contract, similarly structured in the same fashion has the Greater Lowell Tech. offers their HR Director. The title doesn’t have to change but a contract isn’t out of order for someone who is a direct report to the Superintendent.