2014 brings new professional opportunities

By Paula A. Phillips, President, CFT Council of Classified Employees

As 2013 winds to a close and we look back on the year, there are many reasons for classified employees to be thankful. After years of cuts, more resources are flowing into schools and colleges, thanks to our efforts to pass Prop. 30. K-12 education will see a more equitable funding formula and a new law requires more consideration of classified staff in district professional development plans.

Our union’s goal of every child receiving a high-quality education is within reach, but we need to take the initiative. How can we make the most of these opportunities for change? By addressing them at the bargaining table, in shared governance committees, and in our communities.

Under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, all districts, county offices, and charter schools must have a Local Control Accountability Plan that describes how they intend to meet annual goals for students. The Education Code lays out eight priorities, from providing sufficient materials to implementing the new Common Core standards.

As these local education agencies draw up their LCAPs, their governing boards must consult with staff, faculty, principals, and local unions. Students and parents are also important stakeholders. We must be vigilant at every step in this process, from demanding that positions cut during lean years be restored, to mobilizing our community allies for the public hearings required before plan adoption.

The big news in staff development is Senate Bill 590. Though some locals have negotiated training hours for paras and classified, most have not. When SB 590 becomes law January 1, school districts will be required to consider staff in their professional development plans. And, yes, we need to take the initiative. Our work can make 2014 a turning point in public education.

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