DELANO, MN – About 20 people, made up primarily of paraprofessionals and their supporters, attended Monday’s Delano School Board meeting.
“We, as teachers, cannot do our job with the children without the support of paraprofessionals,” said teacher and Delano Teacher Association President Monica Kunkel. “We really appreciate what they do in our district and look forward to them being regarded and treated as respected professionals.”
Clerk Corey Black, who was running the meeting in the absence of acting Chair Lisa Seguin, said he agreed with that sentiment.
While the paraprofessionals were not able to speak to the board due to an active grievance against the district, 10-year Delano paraprofessional and Service Employee International Union Local 284 steward Melissa McKay presented a statement to the board and the Delano Herald Journal.
The grievance alleges that Superintendent Matt Schoen instructed building principals to withhold paid rest breaks from paraprofessionals. According to McKay’s statement, the action was not applied to all schools.
“Our work can be difficult and demanding; it can be physical and taxing, and the conditions we work under can change rapidly, depending on the day or situation,” McKay wrote. “The ability to walk away from our duties for a short while to recoup and take care of our needs is essential to our ability to do our job well.”
McKay posed two rhetorical questions to the board in her statement.
“Can you imagine doing what we do for hours on end without being given a break and the ability to separate ourselves from our students?” McKay wrote. “Do you think this will lead to better outcomes for students and staff?”
According to McKay, district representatives have not met with paraprofessional union representatives.
“At this rate, we will go to arbitration over this matter, not ever even having a face-to-face conversation about it,” McKay wrote.
Her statement concluded by stating that “Delano School District is choosing to send a message that disenfranchises current employees and will keep people from considering working with our most vulnerable children. We are asking you to reconsider this decision and recommit to the paraprofessional break schedule as it exists and is defined in the paraprofessional handbook and that workers are provided on paper as part of their job assignment each year.”
Schoen declined to comment on the matter, citing the active grievance.
2019-21 teacher master agreement
Included in personnel matters, the board approved the 2019-21 teacher master agreement.
It calls for a total of 8 percent in pay increases, which includes a 2.55 percent increase in salary each year. It also includes increases for teachers’ additional years of service and lane increases for teachers furthering their education.
The increases apply across the board, not only to teachers, but also coaches and advisors.
There will be no change in health benefits.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved the teacher evaluation agreement, which is required by the state and was agreed upon by teachers and the district. The agreement goes hand-in-hand with the district’s Quality Compensation (Q-Comp) program. Changes center around how often administrators observe teachers.
• approved the Q-Comp plan. The details of that plan were outlined during the Sept. 23 work session and covered in the Sept. 27 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.
• approved the first of two reads of Policy 213 regarding school board committees. It updates which committees have decision-making authority, which can only be granted by the school board, and notes that the Spirit of Community Commission is not a district committee, rather a city commission that has district representation on it.
• approved the first of two reads of Policy 409 regarding employee publications, instructional materials, inventions and creations to include materials added to the district website.
• approved personnel matters, including the resignation of Delano Elementary School first-grade teacher Emily Goudreault and a memorandum of agreement with Delano Intermediate School fourth-grade teacher Nicole Sass.
• approved the first and only read of the following policies due to nonsubstantive and/or legal reference changes: Policy 407 regarding employee right to know for exposure to hazardous substances, Policy 408 regarding subpoena of a school district employee, and Policy 410 regarding the family and medical leave policy.
• approved the second and final read of the following policies due to substantive and/or legal reference changes: Policy 524 regarding internet acceptable use and safety policy, Policy 603 regarding curriculum development, Policy 611 regarding home schooling, Policy 618 regarding assessment of student achievement, and Policy 624 regarding online learning options.
• approved the China trip for students, staff, and other chaperones, from June 9-21, 2020.
• accepted $51,218 of donations and a weight belt from 13 entities.