Sharing During This National Emergency
As I am writing this today, I cannot even imagine what you all, as school leaders, are going through. Please know we are thinking of you and the challenges of the unknown that you are facing moving forward. We will be here for you, your students, families, and staff today, tomorrow and in the future.
I am so impressed by the communications and opportunities for at home learning that you all are providing. For examples, a shout out to Novi and their social network daily read alouds, Dearborn Public Schools and their detailed Q and A, and to Detroit Public TV providing educational programming. Keep up the positivity, the kindness and caring for others! We will get through this and become even stronger together for the children of Michigan and our Nation. Check out #teachersareheroes for some inspiration.
This is a time for sharing and caring. Please provide your best practices for learning and communications to us and we will blast those out to everyone.
A Focus on Educational Leaders
I have had the pleasure over the past two months to visit with many of our member districts and business partners. My goal was to learn about your organizations and how the Metro Bureau team may serve you best.
In meeting with many I continued to hear a few common themes. Metro Bureau serves as a service organization; a “think tank”; provides quality, timely, and valuable professional development and resources; and supports the development of educational leaders. Staying current in educational best practices and supporting our member districts must remain our focus.
Consistent with the Metro Bureau’s mission of helping school and district leaders in the management of resources, we know that experience and advice from our business partners can offer great value to our member school districts. It also makes good business sense for our partners as it creates trusting relationships. All of our Metro Bureau business partners have been vetted and can provide you with qualified references from our region whom you know and trust. So whether you are thinking about a school bond, school safety, or are looking for assistance with your personal retirement planning, we have the right people available to you. Metro Bureau business partners offer services in maintenance and operations, learning and legal services, data and analytics, benefits, risk management, and finance. A list of our partners and contact information appears toward the end of this newsletter. Also, please reach out to me at any time and I can help to support these conversations.
We have provided powerful and timely seminars over the past few months, with many more scheduled this spring as listed below. (As a member service, reminder that all of our seminars are available on our website). If need be, we may also be providing staff development via online. One such seminar was Big Brother is Watching…But Should He Be? Addressing the legal implications associated with technology aimed at keeping schools safe. This was presented by Kevin Sutton of Lusk Albertson, PLC and Mark Paliszewski of Recon Management. The feedback was outstanding and also showed that more information and professional development is needed, including in the area of visitor management as a part of the total school security program. Please see the document included with this month’s newsletter authored by Mark Paliszewski of Recon Management addressing this very topic.
Council of Chief Negotiators
by Greg Baracy, Associate Executive Director
Brian Sumner, CCN Chair, Garden City Public Schools
Preparing for Negotiations
Groundhog Day has come and gone, and old Phil didn’t see his shadow which, according to legend, means an early spring is just around the corner. Once again, we find ourselves well into March wondering where the school year has gone. Daylight Savings time began on March 8, and we sprang forward one hour leaving many of us trying to pick up the hour we lost. With spring job fairs, layoff-placement, potential hiring and CBA’s expiring, where do we find the extra time? I don’t think there is any good answer to that question. One thing is for sure, we must keep things in perspective and proceed methodically.
Recently at one of our HR meetings it was said, “It seems like we just settled our teacher contract, and we’re gearing up for new contract negotiations again.” Unfortunately, this has been the case with many of our bargaining units. Drawn-out negotiations, short-term contracts, and difficulty reaching settlements have put considerable pressure on our administrative teams. Please remember, many of the circumstances leading to such frustrating bargaining is out of our control. One seasoned HR administrator reminded us, “You can only control what you can control, and sometimes that’s not much.” How real that can be. Keep it in perspective!
When gearing up and preparing for negotiations remember:
- Complete a thorough analysis of your existing contract
- Survey your field administrators to determine where contract issues exist
- Select your high-energy, competent and respected team members
- Know your budget and financial projections
- Know the cost of salary percentages, steps, insurance, days +/-, and language that impacts the budget--are there any unintended costs?
- Share financial information and costs with union leadership
- Make sure all prohibited subjects are out of the contract--they don’t have to be bargained out
- Have clear goals and objectives set by the Board and Superintendent
- Make sure your Superintendent and Board are inserviced on union pressure tactics and keep them updated (This is critically important especially if negotiations become contentious)
- Have a positive communications strategy so all stakeholders get the same message
- Know the surrounding settlements
- Don’t hesitate to call a colleague for advice
- Demonstrate calm, competency and consistency (the three C’s)
Remember time is on your side--patience, patience, patience!
If that’s not enough for now, keep in mind the teacher job fairs are upon us. The teacher shortages are real, and the competition is fierce. Get creative and be prepared to incentivize potential offers. The Spring 2020 schedule is as follows:
March 16 Eastern Michigan University (Canceled)
April 16 University of Michigan
April 20 Michigan State University
April 21 Central Michigan University
April 22 Western Michigan University
May 1 Wayne State University
Lastly, keep in mind that the Metro Bureau services can help you in your endeavors. Current regional enrollment trends are now available on our website, along with other relevant survey information at metrobureau.org. Good luck with your hiring and negotiations.
The following Metro Bureau seminars are being offered:
Wed, April 15, 2020 READY Mathematics – Strategies for Facilitating Rich Conversations in the Discourse-Driven Mathematics Classroom (Breakfast & Learn-Free to attend RSVP required)
Presenters: Elizabeth Peyser of Curriculum Associates
Location: Wayne County Community College District – Ted Scott Center, Belleville, MI
Tues, April 28, 2020 Title IX: Regulations & Investigation Protocols
Presenters: Lorie Steinhauer, John Kava, and Jeremy Chisholm of Collins & Blaha, P.C.
Location: Schoolcraft College – VisTaTech Center, Livonia, MI
Stay tuned to the Metro Bureau Website—metrobureau.org for additional information; and remember, don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any suggestions and/or ideas regarding future seminars. Wishing you all the best!
Council of Academic Leadership
by Nancy Campbell, Associate Executive Director
Beatrice Benjamin, CAL Chair, Redford Union Schools
Who would have dreamt we would be where we are today? No school, no travel, no toilet paper? I only know your plates are full in working with staff on e-learning and wondering when this quarantine will end. I know we would all prefer to get things back to normal as soon as possible.
I am wondering if you would like to share what you are doing to provide student lessons to parents as they work with their children. I know my four grandchildren started “school” at 9:00 am on Monday, March 16th and my daughter is the new “lunch lady” at noon. She says they are not going to have a great lunch if they aren’t able to show an appreciable amount of work. (I am not kidding!) If you would like to share how you are assisting parents, please send me an email by the end of this week and I will compile the information and send it your way early next week.
On another note, our March CAL Meeting is cancelled so we will look at rescheduling David Hales, Wayne RESA’s Social Studies Consultant, in April (or whenever we are back to work). We also will have a discussion on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment when next we meet. For now, I want to thank Troy School District for the terrific February CAL Meeting they hosted at their Early Childhood Center. What a facility and what great programs!
Now I want to switch gears since I have had time to read some articles in Ed Week. You may have seen this one too but it really touched me so I just want to share the essence of it. The article is titled, “The Myth Fueling Math Anxiety,” by Sarah D. Sparks (January 7. 2020).
“Emerging cognitive and neuroscience research finds that math anxiety is not just a response to poor math performance – in fact, 4 out of 5 students with math anxiety are average-to-high math performers. Rather, math anxiety is linked to higher activity in areas of the brain that relate to fear of failure BEFORE a math task, not DURING it. This fear takes up mental bandwidth during a math task – creating, for example, suddenly feeling blank and unable to think. In turn, that discomfort tends to make those with math anxiety more reluctant to practice math, which then erodes confidence and skill. In part for that reason, anxiety has been linked to worse long-term performance in math than in other academic subjects like reading. But unlike reading, seen as a joy and necessity for all children, math too often has been ‘feared and revered’ as a frustrating, boring, mostly irrelevant subject for all but a few elite students with inborn talent.”
I never considered myself a math person when I was in school but I honestly think I wasn’t willing to work through challenging lessons way back when. I am different now. I love a challenge (taking piano, learning how to play bridge, playing golf) and I believe in the “journey”.
Oh well, enough ramblings for today. You have your own challenges right now and I can bet you are trying your best not to be anxious about what the next several weeks and months may bring. If I can do anything to help you, feel free to send me an email at Nancy.firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Our Business Partners
2020 PA 37
Freedom of Information Act—amended to allow a state agency to make its publications available in electronic format (HB 4444; eff. 3/3/20).
2020 PA 38
Freedom of Information Act—amended to expand the scope of "nonpaper physical media" for the purpose of calculating a public body's fee for searching for and providing a public record (HB 4445; eff. 3/3/20).
2020 PA 45
Construction of School Buildings Act—amended to allow temporary door-barricade devices to be installed in school buildings (HB 4689; eff. 6/1/20).