Serving the public every step of the way!
UNITED VOICES VOL. 2 NO. 3
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD AT THE 2015 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
BL I C EDUC AT I
Scott Gefroh, a social studies teacher at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck, has certainly proven the depth of his character, in his 25 years as an educator and in his struggles with his heart. Since doctors first discovered a defective valve in his heart in 2003, Gefroh has been in and out of hospitals, soldiering through multiple open-heart surgeries.
E BLIC S
BEA RESPONDS TO DENIAL OF SICK LEAVE
MARK YOUR CALENDAR TODAY FOR THE NDU DELEGATE ASSEMBLY
It’s time to gear up for the 2015 North Dakota United Delegate Assembly. The Assembly is schedule for April 18, 2015 at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center for Excellence. This is a very important Delegate Assembly. Not only will the business of the NDU be decided, but also 12 slots will be voted on by their constituencies or region for the ND United Board of Directors along with 14 delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly in Orlando, FL, July 1 through July 6, 2015.
ADVOCACY CONFERENCE SCHEDULED MARCH 27-28, 2014
The first of its kind, North Dakota United (NDU) All-Member Advocacy Conference will be held March 27-28 at the Bismarck Ramkota Hotel. NDU will provide each local chapter assistance for its members attending the March Advocacy conference. Reimbursement requires that the individual be in attendance through the final session on Saturday, March 28, 2015.
North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta gives very high marks to Governor Jack Dalrymple’s 2015 Executive Budget. Dalrymple delivered his budget to the legislature December 3, 2013. His proposal included an increase of more than $100 million for K-12 funding, three percent to five percent salary increases each year of the biennium for State and Higher Education employees, and increased retirement contributions by two percent – putting the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System plan on a path to 100 percent funded status.
United Voices is the official publication of North Dakota United, 301 N 4th Street, Bismarck, ND 58501. Postmaster, send address changes to: North Dakota United 301 N 4th Street Bismarck, ND 58501 Linda Harsche Director of Communications Kelly Hagen Director of Field Communications Image Printing Design/Publisher
NORTH DAKOTA UNITED COMMENDS GOVERNOR DALRYMPLE’S BUDGET
LAFRANCE WINS 2014 ESP OF THE YEAR
When the nominees were announced for North Dakota United’s Educational Support Professional (ESP) of the Year award at this year’s state ESP Conference, Julie LaFrance of Minot was not prepared to hear her name as one of the three finalists.“No, I didn’t even know I was nominated!” LaFrance said with a laugh. “It was funny because I talked to (ESP Director on NDU Board) Tyann Schlenker, and I said, ‘Who’s nominated?’ … and she said Heidi Schostek (of Dickinson) was nominated and I think Connie Deutsch (of Fargo) is, and there’s somebody else, but I’m not sure’ ... So I’m sitting there, we were trying to eat really fast and I have food in my mouth, and all of a sudden they called my name, and I’m like, ‘Really!?’”
ND United Voices
HELP YOURSELF TO HELP OTHERS Make your voice heard in the ND State Legislature
I had the pleasure recently to listen to an address by AFT Executive Vice President Mary Catherine Ricker. In her remarks, she mentioned that people who do what we do for a living are often so busy doing things for others that we do not take the time to do important things for ourselves. Mary is exactly right. K-12 and higher education teachers, ESP, and public employees are wired differently than many of the professionals in other fields. What we do, we do for the benefit of others. Teachers teach so that our young people have the very best opportunities for a future full of success. The men and women who clear our highways of snow in the winter and patch the holes in the summer do so that their friends, neighbors and the goods produced in North Dakota can get where they are going safely and on time. Other public employees do their jobs so that our state’s commerce continues unabated and our most vulnerable citizens are protected and cared for. By Nick Archuleta NDU President
NDU needs your help to see to it that you receive a well-deserved pay increase. There are some legislators who do not value your work the way most North Dakotans do. So what can you do?”
In doing for others, we neglect to do for ourselves. But it does not have to be that way. As the 64th Legislative Assembly gets underway, you have a chance to help yourself to help others. As you know, every aspect of your professional life is impacted by the decisions made by our elected leaders. The men and women serving in the Legislature will not, however, make those decisions in a vacuum. They will be hearing from very powerful groups representing multiple interests. NDU is one of those groups. We will be working very hard to ensure that bad ideas do not become bad laws and that good ideas get promoted and enacted into law. But we cannot do this alone. NDU needs your help to protect your pensions. You have worked too hard for too long to allow NDPERS and TFFR to be taken away. NDU needs your help to see to it that you receive a well-deserved pay increase. There are some legislators who do not value your work the way most North Dakotans do. So what can you do? You can help yourself by helping us to lobby your legislators. Please visit www.ndunited.org and fill out the member survey. On that survey, you will be able to share with NDU your home email address as well as weigh in on some issues that we expect to see during this legislative session. We will not share your email address with anyone else, but we will use it to contact you with vital updates and action alerts. These communications will inform you of the issues and recommend action so that your voice is heard loudly and clearly at least twice: once from NDU and again from you. As a citizen, you have every right to contact your legislator, and legislators do want you to contact them. The worst thing we could hear is that a legislator voted for bad legislation because, “I haven’t heard from any of your members.” YOU are NDU, and YOU can make a difference. So help yourself to help others by making your voice heard in the North Dakota State Legislature. It has been said that you get the government you deserve. I believe that NDU members deserve the best because they are the best at providing the vital services that North Dakotans rely on every day. If you agree, get ready to act! Thank you for your membership in NDU, and thank you for all you do to make North Dakota the best state in which to live and work.
If we’re not following the negotiated agreement,
then there is no point in having one.”
BEA RESPONDS TO DENIAL OF SICK LEAVE
Teacher Scott Gefroh takes school district to court and wins By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications Photo Courtesy of the Bismarck Tribune
Scott Gefroh, a social studies teacher at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck, has certainly proven the depth of his character, in his 25 years as an educator and in his struggles with his heart. Since doctors first discovered a defective valve in his heart in 2003, Gefroh has been in and out of hospitals, soldiering through multiple open-heart surgeries. In 2012, the new valve he’d had installed in 2003 was replaced again. During that procedure, a blood vessel was damaged from being handled by surgeons too much, and another surgery was needed to fix that. A heart infection soon followed in August of 2013, which then led to an aortic aneurysm. Another surgery followed in September, and as he recovered from that procedure, he would suffer yet another aortic aneurysm. The situation had deteriorated so much by then, his surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., offered him a difficult choice: face another risky dangerous open heart surgery for the fourth time, or go home and enjoy what little time he would have left. “Because those two surgeries were within two and a half weeks of each other, where they cracked my ribs open,” Gefroh said. “It was really scary. The aneurysm was literally pushing tissue right outside of my chest. I told my students it was just like if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Alien.’ It was really scary, and it literally happened overnight. My surgeon told me, ‘I’ve never done anything like this. Maybe you need to go home, we’ll give you some medication to make you comfortable, and just kind of die peacefully with your family. Or, I’ll try this.’ And I said, ‘I want you to try this. Death is either one way or the other, so let’s give it a shot.’” Gefroh chose to fight. He went into surgery and went face-to-face with very thin odds of survival. And he won. Gefroh is still fighting, as he sat in a hospital bed at the Mayo Clinic after just having had another procedure done on his heart, this time not open-heart, when he spoke to NDU for this article. “They can’t even get into the right coronary artery any more, so it’s basically shut down,” Gefroh said. “It’s not working. And my left one had a little bit of an opening; it had a kink on it from all of the scarring, and there was just a little bit of a spot to go in. And that’s why I wasn’t getting any oxygen, or very little. So they went in, and they tried it. It took them about three hours, but they got another stent in. They actually put a stent inside of another stent, and this doctor who did this said he’d never done this before! So I’m just fortunate, and I’m blessed.” Gefroh is a long-time member of the Bismarck Education Association, his union that advocates for him and for all the teachers and educational support professionals in the Bismarck Public School district. As a teacher, 4
ND United Voices
Gefroh is covered by a contract, negotiated between BPS and BEA, which prepares teachers for hard times in a number of ways. The contract established the formation of a sick leave bank, so people with catastrophic illness or injury can use it when needed. A Sick Leave Committee, consisting of three volunteers selected by the district’s human resources manager of the president of BEA, accepted Gefroh’s application for a maximum of 80 sick bank days. However, after 40 days, the checks stopped arriving. The district claims Gefroh failed to apply for disability before applying to the sick bank, which is one step spelled out in the contract. Both the BEA and the School Board are interpreting the language in the contract differently. With the support of the BEA, Gefroh filed a grievance. “Those folks in the committee had already made the decision,” said Chris Hall, president of BEA, “and our appeal came about because the agreement says, ‘All decisions of the sick leave bank are final.’” For Hall, the reasoning for taking Gefroh’s case to litigation was simple. “It’s about all of us,” she said. “If we’re not following the negotiated agreement, then there is no point in having one.” The grievance procedure provides for a selection of arbitrators, and the district refused to participate in the process. “The contract clearly spells out the process for selecting an arbitrator,” said Michael Geiermann, attorney for Gefroh and the BEA. “It says the teacher can request a hearing by an acceptable third party. Three options of arbitrators are spelled out, and the contract says that the superintendent and the BEA need to select one of them. The district said they wanted local arbitration. We said no. The next step should have been for them to select which of the remaining two options is unacceptable to them, and we use the remaining choice. The district refused to move off of their choice.” “And they only wanted it on paper,” Hall said. “Scott’s whole thing was, ‘I want a hearing. I want a person deciding; I don’t want a paper review.’ That was part of the reason why he didn’t want local arbitration, and the district was saying: ‘I think we can find a reasonable person inside the district to decide this. We don’t need to go to outside folks.’ Scott wanted a hearing, and is guaranteed one in the contract.” So the BEA took the school district to court, to decide the ndunited.org
question of what kind of arbitration should be used to hear Gefroh’s grievance. On Dec. 8, Judge Bruce Haskell found that the district had refused to arbitrate, and the district was ordered to strike one of the arbitrators from a list of three, the BEA would be allowed to strike one of the arbitrators, and the remaining arbitrator would hear the case. This was the remedy originally suggested by BEA through Geiermann. “This is a significant win for BEA and for Gefroh,” Geiermann said. “It is unfortunate that the parties had to expend significant time and resources over an issue which required a 30-second conversation on the selection of an arbitrator. BEA should be congratulated for standing up for their rights and enforcing their contract.” In the end, this case has been a test of how the participants in it would respond to some severe adversity. Scott Gefroh has stood up repeatedly, fighting back against his heart complications, to come home and continue to pursue his passion to teach young minds. The Bismarck Education Association is now rising up to stand with Gefroh and fight for the full 80 days of sick leave that was granted to him by the Sick Leave Bank Committee. “A deal is a deal. We agreed to this, and you’re not going to live up to your side of it? It’s in writing, and you’re not following it,” Hall said. “And it’s disheartening to the other employees, who have put their trust into the sick leave bank, to now wonder, ‘What happens to me if I need to use the sick leave bank? Am I going to get my money, even though it’s approved? I already donated my days into the sick leave bank.’ This is bad business.” For the Bismarck Education Association, the win in court on Dec. 8 was a morale booster, and justification that they are standing on the right side of the issue. The next step will be for the school district to strike one of the three possible arbitrators, and to move forward into arbitration with the one remaining option. Gefroh, Geiermann, President Hall and all of BEA feels incredibly confident about their chances of success in arbitration, to get Gefroh the sick leave he has earned. “I didn’t ever want this to happen to get to this level,” Gefroh said. “I think it’s something that needed to be done. Teachers, we need to stand together and stand up for what’s right. And the whole purpose, I think, of a union is to stay strong together and work together. I think I had the perfect opportunity to stick my neck out there and say, ‘You know what? We’ve got to do something about this.’” 5
TALK TO YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS TODAY Student issues can’t be left behind! The holiday season renewed our commitment to family and reminded us of the privileges and blessings that we received in 2014. We watched our children partake in the season, and we as parents and educators talked about how our children will someday be the future of this great nation. Special announcements of two new arrivals in 2015 for my family were made during this season. According to statistics, this same wonderful news was and will be shared by many families across the state into the coming year.
By Karen Christensen Vice President of Education
Safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment.”
Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
The baby boom is on! For the last 100 years or so North Dakota’s population has remained about the same, but in the future it is expected to grow by double digits. What will North Dakota do this Legislative Session to protect the rights and provide opportunities for the potential students entering our education system? How will students of poverty be given the opportunity to fully participate in their education? Can students afford to go to college or pursue training beyond high school? Will our homeless population be given full educational consideration? Our 2015 Legislature faces issues that stem much deeper than the expectations of state standards. The increase in the number of babies being born in our state means making sure schools have enough classrooms to accommodate students, and each classroom must have a highly qualified educator in that classroom to teach our students. The Education Professional Standards Board (ESPB) has granted more teaching licenses to educators from outside of North Dakota than students now graduating from our state colleges. The best and brightest students in North Dakota aren’t pursuing degrees in education because of the lack of compensation vs. college loans debts. Classrooms are left without highly qualified personnel to develop standards for our students. This is a topic for our 2015 Legislature to address. Some of the other topics our Legislature must address are: Serious consideration for children of poverty, providing our poverty students access to breakfast when they come to school to fuel the learning process followed up by a lunch that promotes physical growth, supporting the school’s ability to expose students to a wide variety of experiences and career options in order to develop a broader spectrum of career choices as a step in meeting the state standards, and an affordable post-secondary education and training opportunities to aid in the demand for qualified employees to fill the job market. Another rising challenge in education and a topic for our Legislature to address is servicing the homeless population. Homeless children tend to deal with stress, fear, anxiety and instability. They are nine times more likely to drop out of school. With the shortage of affordable housing, we will see homeless rates increase which puts pressure on the school systems to help students accomplish state standards. In the late 1950s, the state required that oil taxes flow directly to the state. The citizens of North Dakota have placed their trust in our elected officials to appropriate funds in a manner that will meet the needs of the current citizens of North Dakota. It is time as educators to let our elected officials know what topics need their top priority. This Legislative Session, our student issues cannot be left until the end of the session to be solved. As NDU members it is our job to talk to our local legislators and let them know how serious the problem is for the students in North Dakota today. Our students can’t wait until tomorrow for these problems to be solved!
ND United Voices
Public Service Perspectives
STATE OF ND MUST RECRUIT AND RETAIN Salary survey shows state worker pay behind market, but catching up In my September article I provided information from the State Employee Compensation Commission’s (SECC’s) first meeting. At the SECC’s second meeting, additional information about benefits and salaries was presented. One of the documents provided to the commission was the salary survey that the North Dakota Human Resource Management System (HRMS) commissioned. This survey was a follow-up to the 2011 survey, which was used to develop the state’s compensation plan that was implemented in 2012. The growth in North Dakota’s economy has provided the state with many opportunities due to the robust revenue growth. Along with the growth comes a strong demand for workers. The state is challenged with retaining current employees and filling vacant positions.
By Gary Feist Vice President of Public Employees
The current survey, completed by Kenning Consulting, was conducted to help HRMS make recommendations on the following components of the state’s compensation plan: 1) movement of salary ranges; 2) salary budgets; and 3) determining method that salary funding should be allocated. The survey focused on comparing salary market information from three sources: The National Compensation Association of State Governments (NCASG); a custom survey of 42 public and private sector organizations representing 2,700 employees; and 3,000 North Dakota Job Service establishments. The strong economy and the demand for workers were noted in the comparison of wages with the NCASG. In prior years North Dakota public employee wages were behind the 10-state average salary. However, when comparing wages to the 2013 data, the average North Dakota pay is now 6 percent above the 10-state average and 9.25 percent above the average market policy point (MPP) of the 10 states. This gain was not unexpected, based on the state’s implementation of the new salary structure in 2012 and the sluggish economy in other states that led to state budget cuts, employee furloughs and layoffs. In past legislative sessions, the argument has been made that compensation needs to be competitive with the employers with whom the state competes with for employees. Including the two in-state surveys in this study provides valuable information in determining how the state can be competitive in recruiting and retaining staff. The custom survey showed that the average state employee pay was 11.5 percent behind and 8 percent behind the MPP. Comparing state employee wages to the larger N.D. Job Service survey also showed the average state employee pay lagging the market by 3.35 percent. The difference between the custom survey and the Job Service survey is attributable to the inclusion of a larger database of employers. More than 70 percent of the employers in the Job Service Survey had less than 20 employees. The results of the survey were not unexpected because of the high demand for workers in North Dakota based on the oil boom out west and the strong economy throughout the state. The opinion of Kenning Consulting was to stay the course. Based on the information provided, the SECC’s recommendation to the governor for state employee salary and benefits included: Continue to provide a fully funded family health insurance plan Provide $48 million of general funds for state employee salary increases Consider providing funding for equity to agencies with salary issues. The recommendation for the salary increase, including both general and special fund, is approximately $87 million. The matrix on which the recommendation is based would provide for increases of 4 percent in 2015 and 3 percent in 2016, provided an employee meets standards. Additional money is being provided for equity for those employees in the first and second quartile of their ranges, and an additional increase of up to 2 percent for those employees exceeding standards. While the recommendation is solid, it is unknown if it will enable the state to recruit and retain the employees it will need to provide quality services. This recommendation is just the start. Governor Dalrymple will propose his budget to the Legislature, which may or may not include the SECC’s recommendations. It is up to the Legislature to pass a compensation package, and this provides YOU an opportunity to contact your legislators to make your voice heard. ndunited.org
Delegate Assembly Section
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MARK YOUR CALENDAR TODAY FOR THE NDU DELEGATE ASSEMBLY Officers and NEA RA delegates will be elected on April 18, 2015 By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
It’s time to gear up for the 2015 North Dakota United Delegate Assembly. The Assembly is schedule for April 18, 2015, at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center for Excellence. This is a very important Delegate Assembly. Not only will the business of the NDU be decided, but also 12 slots will be voted on by their constituencies or region for the ND United Board of Directors along with 14 delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly in Orlando, FL. July 1 through July 6, 2015. Information for registering delegates to the 2015 NDU Delegate Assembly will be sent out at least 90 days prior to the Assembly. The forms will show how many delegates each local, chapter is allowed to the Delegate Assembly. NDU will provide assistance to each local or chapter sending delegates to the annual Delegate Assembly as follows: Mileage: 56 cents per round trip mile. Limit one vehicle per local. Lodging: (if needed) $50.50 per delegate (Rooms are available at the Ramada Inn, but delegates must make their own reservations.) Expense Assistance: $25 per delegate
NDU will provide assistance to each local or chapter sending delegates to the annual Delegate Assembly.”
The assistance is not intended to reimburse for the actual expenses, but to provide assistance to the locals and chapters in sending delegates to the assembly. Locals are encouraged to provide additional funds, up to the actual expenses incurred, to each delegate. In addition, NDU will provide a breakfast and lunch during the meeting. A social will be scheduled the night before the Assembly at the Ramada Inn. More information will be available as the event gets closer, but mark the date of April 18, 2015, on your calendar today. ND United Voices
ATTEND THE 2015 ND UNITED DELEGATE ASSEMBLY Vote for 14 Board Members and 14 NEA RA Delegates By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
Remember, if members do not get elected at the ND United Delegate Assembly, they can be sent to the NEA RA by a local association or by forming a cluster of local associations. ND United helps fund up to five cluster delegates to attend the NEA Representative Assembly.”
Elections will be held for twelve slots on the North Dakota United (NDU) Board of Directors and 14 delegates to the NEA RA in Orlando, FL (AFT does not hold a National Convention in 2015.) next summer during the NDU Delegate Assembly April 18, 2015, at the Bismarck State College Energy Center. Petitions for these positions must be filed by Feb. 15, 2015 with 50 signatures from active members in good standing. The student and retired positions are elected by their constituencies. However, all positions will be voted on at the 2015 Delegate Assembly. The petitions can be downloaded at www.ndunited.org. The slots open on the NDU Board of Directors include: Northeast Region, Northwest Region, Southwest Region, Southeast Region, K-12 District (Less than 600 students) K-12 District (More than 600 students), Public Employee, Education Support Professional, Higher Education Support Professional, Higher Education (2-year college), Higher Education (4-year college), and Ethnic Director. The student and retired positions are elected by their respective groups. All new board members take office July 15, 2015. Election for President, two Vice Presidents and NEA Director will be held at the Delegate Assembly in 2016. NDU is actually allowed 15 state delegates (one of which is automatically the President), local delegates, and cluster delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly, which will be held in Orlando, FL, July 1, through July 6, 2015. North Dakota’s delegation will be housed at the brand new B Hotel located in the Walt Disney World Resort. If delegates are planning on bringing families, the hotel is a five-minute walk to Disney Village and buses pick up visitors for Disney World, Epcot and Universal Studios. Remember, if members do not get elected at the ND United Delegate Assembly, they can still be sent to the NEA RA by a local association or by forming a cluster of local associations. ND United helps fund up to five cluster delegates to attend the NEA Representative Assembly. As United Voices went to press, Lori Young of Grand Forks had filed for the Northeast Region position.
Delegate Assembly Section
NEW ELECTION PROCEDURES IN PLACE For 2015 ND United Delegate Assembly By Mike Geiermann, ND United Attorney
At the request of President Archuleta and as the Parliamentarian at the 2015 Delegate Assembly for the NDU, I am writing this article to explain the new election procedures which have been set forth in the NDU Merger Agreement. For the first time in its short history, the NDU Delegate Assembly will elect a number of directors to the Board of Directors, which oversees the operation of NDU. For some members, there will be some similarities in the election procedure, and for others, marked differences in how directors of the merged organization are elected. In the past, NDPEA members elected their directors at a Delegate Assembly through the vote of delegates who attended that assembly. In contrast, NDEA members voted for directors at general elections held outside of its Representative Assembly. The most notable change in the election process for NDU is the election of all directors at the Delegate Assembly to be held on April 18, 2015. Depending on your employer, your position and your location, you will belong to a core constituency group. In the NDU Merger Agreement, representation on the Board of Directors is partially based on constituency groups and partially based on location. Those core constituency groups include student, retired, public employees, ethnic minority, K-12, K-12 ESP, Higher Ed Support, Higher Ed Two-Year Institution, and Higher Ed Four-Year Institution. All of these core constituency groups are represented by one director, except for K-12, which is represented by two directors due to the number of members in that constituency group. In addition, you are all, for purposes of the election, placed into a “region” depending on the location of your employment. The state is divided into four regions, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest. Each one of these regions is also entitled to an atlarge director. All 14 directors’ positions, which are set forth herein, will be elected at the 2015 Delegate Assembly. 10
ND United Voices
For the first time in its short history, the NDU Delegate Assembly will elect a number of directors to the Board of Directors which oversees the operation of NDU. For some members, there will be some similarities in the election procedure, and for others, marked differences in how directors of the merged organization are elected.â€?
Like any other election, the starting point for the election of candidates to directorship positions is the nomination process. Nominations to these director positions may be made by any NDU member or the member may nominate themselves. Anyone nominated, or who would like to be considered to be a candidate, must submit a completed nomination petition bearing signatures of at least 50 active members to NDU no later than Feb. 15, 2015. There are some limitations to the nomination process. All candidates must be a member of their respective constituency to be considered a candidate. For example, a first-grade teacher may run for the director position in K-12 as that first-grade teacher belongs to that core constituency group. A public employee may not run for a directorâ€™s position for the K-12 constituency group because that individual is not a member of that constituency. Candidates who wish to run for the at-large regional director positions must be employed in a location in one of those regions. This candidate is also required to submit the nomination petition with at least 50 signatures from active members. All persons employed by the state of North Dakota or by any of its political subdivisions are considered to be active members in NDU. Prior to the Delegate Assembly, the elections committee will determine the eligible candidates for election to each core constituency group and to the four regional at-large director positions. The election of the candidates to the director positions will then take place at the Delegate Assembly on April 18, 2015. The only individuals who will be able to vote for those director positions will be delegates who attend the Delegate Assembly. There are several limitations on voting for directors at the Delegate Assembly. The first limitation is that a delegate can only vote for the candidate who corresponds to their core constituency group. K-12 teachers can only vote for the K-12 candidates. Higher Ed delegates can only vote for Higher Ed members, and so on and so forth. In addition, another limitation is that delegates can only vote for regional directors who are from their region. In contrast, all of the delegates at the Delegate Assembly elect the ethnic minority core constituency. As the Delegate Assembly gets closer, NDU will be notifying its members through its local associations and local presidents of the election issues relating to the Delegate Assembly. Since the directors are elected at the Delegate Assembly and not in a general election with all the members participating, it is absolutely imperative that local associations send delegates to the Delegate Assembly to ensure representation of your local association. See you in April. ndunited.org
NDU NEEDS YOUR PERSONAL E-MAIL ADDRESS Have you heard about this new thing? It’s called electronic mail – e-mail for short. And it’s pretty great. E-mail, of course, has been around for a while. The first e-mail was sent by Ray Tomlinson to himself in 1971, reportedly saying simply “QWERTYUIO,” which would make a good title for a movie based on the life story of this Ray Tomlinson. E-mail is a big part of your life, most likely. You have a work e-mail address given to you on your first day. As we are a large union of public employees and educators from all across the state and in multiple different worksites and sectors, the e-mail domains for members’ addresses are varied, from nd.gov addresses to SendIt, to multiple school district domains such as willistonschools.org or the domains for each university, such as minotstateu.edu. You have a work e-mail address, in all likelihood, is what I’m trying to say.
By Kelly Hagen Director of Field Communications
North Dakota United uses e-mail quite often to communicate with all our members. At the local level, your presidents and leadership teams will e-mail you to keep you updated on all that your organization is doing. On the state level, you will receive e-mails from NDU to promote events, member benefits and consumer savings programs, update you on important news and keep you informed, to the minute, about what’s happening at our state Capitol during the legislative sessions. We send out this information to the e-mail addresses you supply us with when you register for membership. Now, here’s the “ask” of this column. If you could, would you please take a moment and update your e-mail address information with your personal e-mail address instead of your work e-mail address? Many, many people primarily use their work e-mail addresses for personal communications. When I worked at the newspaper, I would most often receive communications from my mom from her hospital work e-mail address, sent to me newspaper e-mail address, with pictures of kittens and inspirational sayings, or the latest tactic that criminals are using to steal our cars. You know, e-mail stuff. We understand. However, your work e-mail address does not belong solely to you. Your workplace has full access to anything you receive or send out on their server. So keep that in mind, anytime you use your work e-mail address: Don’t send anything out that you wouldn’t want your supervisor to see. For that reason, we highly recommend that you give us a personal e-mail address to use for communications from NDU, instead of your work e-mail address. We are currently embarking on a pretty large initiative to collect as many personal e-mail addresses from members, which we can then swap out in our member files with your work addresses. You should have received one or two e-mails from President Nick Archuleta, which contained an easy-touse survey with a field to fill out for your name and your contact information, and asking for your home e-mail address. The link to that survey is: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-SMcmjsiFiZzYVy qty7dvi4IFZD_7t78qosU76FRQb8/viewform. If you have a personal e-mail address, one set up through free services like Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, NDSupernet, etc., and you check this address daily, THAT is the e-mail we would like you to share with us. However, if you have a personal e-mail address but you never check it, that’s not of much use to us. Nor to you, really. Pro tip: Check your e-mail regularly. Smart phones and tablets can be set up to receive e-mail from multiple addresses, so you can set up your phone to be receiving mail from your work address, as well as your personal. E-mail programs for your desktop or laptop computer, such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, etc., can be set up for multiple addresses as well. So it’s a good idea, if you haven’t already, to set up a personal e-mail address you use for your personal life, and not use your work e-mail address for anything outside of business. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. Please visit the News section of our website at www. ndunited.org for the electronic version of this column, from which you can easily access our survey form to update your e-mail address. Or send us an e-mail to email@example.com with your personal e-mail address.
ND United Voices
ADVOCACY CONFERENCE SCHEDULED MARCH 27-28, 2015 Check out the wide selection of offers By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
The first-of-its-kind North Dakota United (NDU) All-Member Advocacy Conference will be held March 27-28, 2015 at the Bismarck Ramkota Hotel. Conference registration and check-in (hotel lobby) runs from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, March 27 with a General Session at 8:00 p.m. After NDU President Nick Archuleta welcomes participants to the conference, guest speaker is NEA Executive Committee member Earl Wiman. Wiman was elected to the National Education Association Executive Committee in July 2011 for a three-year term. While serving on the Executive Committee, Earl has helped lead NEA’s signature initiative to transform schools: “Leading the Professions.” NDU-Students will also hold their Representative Assembly at the Ramkota from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The evening will end with a social beginning at 9:00 p.m. Saturday morning starts with registration and a buffet breakfast at 7:00 a.m. NDU President Nick Archuleta will give a welcome and announcement followed by comments from NDU Executive Director Jim Yoder. Sessions will be broken down into both bargaining and membership strands. The bargaining strand will consist of Basics, Finance, Contract Language and Verbal Skills. The membership strand will include Public Employee Issues, ESP/PSRP Issues, Student Issues, Higher Education Issues, Leadership Development, Communications and Member Benefits. Participants will be asked to register for each session they plan on attending during the conference. Registration will be available at www.ndunited.org under Calendar. NDU will provide each local or chapter assistance for its members attending the March Advocacy conference. Reimbursement requires that the individual be in attendance through the final session on Saturday. Vouchers will be provided during the final session. For each person attending the Advocacy Conference NDU will pay $60 assistance for any hotel room utilized on Friday night. The name of the hotel must be listed on the voucher so that the utilization of the room can be verified for accounting purposes. NDU will reimburse the IRS business rate, currently 55 cents per mile, for one car from each local association or chapter. If five or more individuals attend from the same local or chapter, a second car will be funded. In addition, NDU will provide at no cost to the participant, a breakfast and lunch on Saturday. Locals and chapters are encouraged to reimburse individuals for actual expenses incurred by members of their local over the assistance provided by NDU. Room reservations should be made directly with the Best Western Ramkota Hotel at 701-258-7700. Be sure to mention that you will be attending the ND United Conference on March 27 & 28, 2015. The conference rate for either a single or double room is $109 plus tax. The NDU room block will be held through February 27. 14
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2015 ND UNITED LEGISLATIVE AGENDA As approved by the NDU UPAC North Dakota United advocates for great public schools to enhance student achievement and great public services to enhance the quality of life in North Dakota. Therefore, NDU supports legislation that will... Ensure quality public education for students and quality public services for North Dakotans. Provide adequate and equitable funding for schools to offer a diverse and challenging curriculum and the services that will prepare students for global opportunities. Provide adequate and equitable funding for all public services to provide for the diverse and changing needs of our state. Ensure that public money supports only public institutions and that only public employees provide public services. Improve and enhance student learning and public services. Provide fully qualified professionals in all service areas of public employment. Ensure that all public facilities and agencies are adequately staffed to provide quality service. Provide mentoring programs for employees that will heighten their expertise and confidence early in their careers. Provide time and resources for employees to participate in quality professional development. Provide modern, safe buildings and facilities. Provide students and employees with nutrition and wellness programs that encourage healthful living and a healthful attitude for learning. Support programs or initiatives for school readiness. Recruit and retain education and public employees. Promote increased funding for equitable salary increases for all education and public employees. Maintain the current health insurance benefit for all education and public employees. Maintain high standards for licensure and credentials. Provide job security for all education and public employees. Provide bargaining and employment rights for all education and public employees. Provide retirement benefits for present and future retirees. Preserve defined benefit retirement plans for current and future education and public employees. Maintain the current multiplier. ndunited.org
NORTH DAKOTA UNITED COMMENDS GOVERNOR DALRYMPLE’S BUDGET
North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta gives very high marks to Governor Jack Dalrymple’s 2015 Executive Budget. By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
Dalrymple delivered his budget to the legislature Dec. 3, 2014. His proposal included an increase of more than $100 million for K-12 funding, three percent to five percent salary increases each year of the biennium for State and Higher Education employees, and increased retirement contributions by two percent – putting the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System plan on a path to 100 percent funded status. “The Governor’s proposed funding for K-12 education and higher education focuses on student success and college affordability, and our public employees’ future,” said NDU President Nick Archuleta.
“First, the Governor’s new proposal offering state funding for early childhood education is an excellent first step for providing Pre-K children in North Dakota with an outstanding start to their education,” said North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta. “Although NDU believes all students deserve learning opportunities to begin by age four, the Association wants to make sure that certified early childhood educators will work with these four-year-olds to give them the best possible preparation for kindergarten. The investment in early childhood education we make today will pay dividends for North Dakotans well into the future.” 16
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This final adjustment will put our outstanding defined benefits pension plan on a path to complete actuarial soundness.”
The K-12 funding proposal includes a three-percent increase in the state’s per-student payment in each year of the 2015-17 biennium. According to Dalrymple, this funding enhancement, combined with the added cost of higher student enrollments, is an increased commitment of $104 million over current biennium spending. The state’s rapid enrollment grant program will also be expanded to make more schools eligible for this funding. The budget includes $14.8 million for these grants, and a two-tier system to expand eligibility. The Executive Budget also includes $300 million for the school construction revolving loan program.
“This budget continues the Legislature’s directive to move state employee pay closer to market levels,” he said. “Employees who meet set performance standards will be eligible for a performance increase of three percent each year and those employees exceeding performance standards are eligible for an increase of up to five percent. In addition, employees whose current compensation is below market rate are eligible to receive an additional increase between one percent and two percent, depending on their position in the salary range. The General Fund cost of this salary schedule package is $52 million.
According to Dalrymple the package continues full health insurance for state employees and their families, and recommends an increase in contributions to the retirement system of two percent the first year of the biennium, with the cost evenly split between employees and the state. “This final adjustment will put our outstanding defined benefits pension plan on a path to complete actuarial soundness,” he said.
The Governor’s recommendations for Higher Education focuses on students, with significant increases to scholarship programs, a freeze in tuition at two year colleges, financial assistance for students who pursue occupations in high-demand fields and system-wide security enhancements. In all, the budget includes $50 million in student financial assistance programs. Dalrymple recommends increasing North Dakota’s merit-based scholarship program to a level of $10,000 per student rather than today’s limit of $6,000. He also recommends a four-percent funding increase in needs-based scholarships each year of the biennium.
Dalrymple says that sound fiscal management also allows the budget to provide state employees the compensation they deserve. ndunited.org
“North Dakota United fully agrees it’s time to increase compensation for public employees and secure their benefits,” said Archuleta. “This budget is a step in the right direction.” “Looking through the Governor’s budget pertaining to our constituencies,” said Archuleta, “we support Governor Dalrymple’s proposals and will work with our members to help get the Governor’s budget approved in the 2015 Legislative Assembly.” 17
NEW LANGUAGE IN EDUCATION AND SCHOOL FUNDING Bill: SB 2031 Explained
By Jane Rupprecht, ND United Research/UniServ Director
Senate Bill 2031 is the funding bill submitted by the Education Funding Committee for the 2015-2017 biennium. Most of the provisions are based on recommendations made by Picus Odden and Associates, a consulting firm hired to study the cost and status of education in North Dakota. While funding is always of interest, SB 2031 also addresses some other issues of interest to educators, including the school calendar and professional development.
Section 2: School Calendar
New language does not mandate a minimum school year length; current language requires 182 days. Rather, the new language simply lists requirements for what must be part of the school year. Districts will be required to have at least 175 days for instruction, three days designated as holidays, no more than two days for parent-teacher conferences, at least two days of professional development during 2015-2016, and at least three days of professional development in 2016-2017. One day of professional development is defined as six hours, excluding meals and breaks, or two 4-hour sessions, excluding meals and breaks, held over two days.
When we add in the fact that the price of Bakken oil is declining, we can expect serious debate and discussion. SB 2031 is only
However, language allowing attendance at the North Dakota United Instructional Conference to count for district professional development is deleted along with the language that didn’t allow districts to schedule other professional development or activities to conflict with the NDU Conference is also deleted. In addition, the language allowing districts to “bank” scheduled school day time that exceeds the statutory requirements for the purpose of making up for weather-related dismissals is gone. Districts will be required to make up only the hours or minutes of instruction lost because of early dismissal or cancellation. The current requirement of 6 hours of instructional time for high school students and 5 ½ hours for elementary students stays the same.
Section 7: State Aid
In the 2013-2015 biennium, substantive changes were made to the funding formula used in North Dakota. Briefly, the concept is that school districts would have a minimum dollar amount available to fund teaching and learning for every weighted student unit (wsu). In 2013-2014, that amount was $8,810, and for 2014-2015, it is $9,092. Some of that amount comes from local tax revenue based on local property values, and the rest of it comes from the state. For the next biennium, the concept stays the same. In 20152016 the proposed amount per wsu is $9,482, and the proposed amount for 2016-2017 is $9,766. It is also proposed that the funding minimums and maximums continue using the same baseline established for the 2013-2015 biennium. Districts are guaranteed at least 6 percent more than the 2012-2013 baseline in 2015-2016, and at least 8 percent more than that baseline in 2016-2017. The maximum funding cannot exceed 30 percent more than the 2012-2013 baseline in 2015-2016, and 40 percent more in 2016-2017. After the total funding per wsu is calculated, the local contribution is subtracted. The local contribution is an amount equal to 60 mills of local property valuation along with 75 percent of all other local tax income, which includes mineral revenue. The remaining amount is the portion of the total aid coming from the state. In addition, SB 2031 reduces the ending fund balance that districts can maintain. Currently, if districts carry over 45 percent + $20,000 of their total expenditures, that amount is subtracted from the amount of state aid. It is proposed that for the 2015-2017 18
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biennium that amount will be reduced to 40 percent + $20,000, and for 2017-2018 going forward, the cap will be 35 percent + $20,000. The change in the formula in the last biennium addresses the problem that districts with low property values were unable to levy the same funds as districts with high property values. The new formula allows for low property values by raising the amount contributed by the state. The idea is that every district will have a standard minimum amount for funding local programs. The bill also continues and maintains a fund for school construction loans, and continues the cap on local tax levies unless approved by local voters. Districts still have access to funds greater than the $9,482 per wsu and the $9,766 per wsu. Districts may keep 25 percent of all local revenue, including mineral revenue over and above the minimum. Districts are also still allowed to levy building funds, and districts may still go to their electors for an increase in local effort. Nonetheless, there are districts that have been impacted by declining or stagnant enrollments, and there are districts that don’t have access to mineral revenue or some of the other local tax sources. Local decisionmaking also impacts the dollars available for supporting teaching and learning. Larger districts that have been affected by the roughly 10 percent cap on increases each year may fall behind, especially if enrollment grows at a pace greater than that 10 percent. Like the rest of the public sector, schools are in need of infrastructure and facilities. When we add in the fact that the price of Bakken oil is declining, we can expect serious debate and discussion. SB 2031 is only the beginning.
GOVERNOR BUDGET PROPOSES PUBLIC EMPLOYEE SALARY INCREASES Now it’s up to lobbying efforts in the 2015 Legislature By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
While the Governor’s recommendation is solid, it is unknown if it will enable the state to recruit and retain the employees it will need to provide quality services.”
In Governor Dalrymple’s budget report on Dec. 3, 2014, he reported sound fiscal management allows for state employees to get the compensation they deserve. He said his budget continues the Legislature’s directive to move state employee pay closer to market levels. “Employees who meet set performance standards will be eligible for a performance increase of three percent each year and those employees exceeding performance standards are eligible for an increase of up to five percent,” said Dalrymple. “In addition, employees whose current compensation is below market rate are eligible to receive an additional increase between one percent and two percent, depending on their position in the salary range. The General Fund cost of the salary package is $52 million.” According to Dalrymple the compensation package continues full health insurance for state employees and their families, and recommends an increase in contributions to the retirement system of two percent the first year of the biennium, with the cost evenly split between employees and the state. “This final adjustment will put our outstanding defined benefits pension plan on a path to complete actuarial soundness.” “We have also funded the same salary increase and pension contribution, with full health insurance, for employees of the university system,” he said. “The men and women who serve in our agencies and institutions of higher learning are hard-working North Dakotans, and we appreciate their dedication.” “While the Governor’s recommendation is solid, it is unknown if it will enable the state to recruit and retain the employees it will need to provide quality services,” said Gary Feist, NDU vice president and a member of the State Employee Compensation Commission (SECC’s). “This recommendation is just the start. Governor Dalrymple will propose his budget to the Legislature. It is up to the Legislature to pass a compensation package for state employees, and this provides YOU an opportunity to contact your legislators to make your voice heard. (See Gary Feist’s Column in this issue for further salary information from SECC.) ndunited.org
ND Public Employees Retirement System
But, with Draft 176 being introduced it’s time for our ND United members to get involved, follow what’s happening to your defined benefit plan, and make sure that the 2015 ND Legislature does not destroy (PERS) with Bill Draft 176.”
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES NEED TO WATCH PROPOSED PERS BILL Some lawmakers looking toward defined contributions By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
On Dec. 2, 2014, the Interim North Dakota Government and Finance Committee passed Bill Draft 176 by an 8-5 favorable vote. This bill would shut down the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System (NDPERS) Defined Benefit plan to new hires. “The cost of this bill would be extremely expensive,” said ND United President Nick Archuleta. “We need to monitor this bill closely and make sure a secure retirement remains for all public employees.” In his budget report to the 2015 Legislative Assembly, Governor Dalrymple recommended an increase in contributions to the retirement system of two percent the first year of the biennium, with the cost evenly split. “This final adjustment will put our outstanding defined benefits pension plan on a path to complete actuarial soundness,” said Dalrymple. “We welcome the Governor’s recommendations today (Dec. 3, 2014) on PERS in his budget,” said Archuleta. “But, with Draft 176 being introduced it’s time for our ND United members to get involved, follow what’s happening to your defined benefit plan, and make sure that the 2015 ND Legislature does not destroy (PERS) with Bill Draft 176.”
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ND UNITED PRAISES LAWMAKERS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION BILL It provides pre-K children with an excellent start By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications
“A new proposal offering state funding for early childhood education is an excellent first step for providing Pre-K children in North Dakota with an excellent start to their education,” said North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta. But he added, “It has to be a first step.” The plan, which was announced at a press conference on Dec. 2, 2014, by Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, the chairman of the North Dakota Senate Education Committee, would make state support available for early childhood education for four-year-old North Dakota children. Flakoll said the program would make early childhood education grants of $1,000 per student per year available. If a child is eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, the grant would rise to $1,500. The Department of Public Instruction estimates that 6,000 fouryear-olds could benefit from the grants in the program’s first year. Archuleta says this proposal would be similar to when the state started all-day kindergarten. “As an Association, NDU wants to make sure that certified early childhood educators will work with these four-year-olds to give them the best possible preparation for kindergarten,” he said. Others present at the news conference to speak about the bill being introduced to the 2015 North Dakota Legislature were Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, the chairman of the North Dakota House’s Education Committee, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, the chairman of the North Dakota Senate’s Education Committee; Kirsten Baesler, the North Dakota superintendent of public instruction; Rep. Mark Dosch, R-Bismarck, a sponsor of the bill; and state Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Bismarck, a sponsor of the bill. “North Dakota United commends these lawmakers for making early childhood education widely available to the children of North Dakota,” said Archuleta. “The investment in early childhood education we make today will pay dividends for North Dakotans well into the future.”
As an Association, NDU wants to make sure that certified early childhood educators will work with these 4-year-olds to give them the best possible preparation for kindergarten.”
We would encourage any of our members to reach out, particularly those
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who serve in your district, and thank them for all of the great work they’ve done in the past, and the work they promise to do in the future, to support public education, our higher education system and public services in North Dakota,”
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CONGRATULATIONS 2015 NDU RECOMMENDED CANDIDATES Welcome back to office and the Legislature North Dakota United (NDU) would like to congratulate all of our recommended legislative candidates in the 2014 General Election who went on to win in the November election. Congratulations, first, to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of Bismarck for his victory on the statewide ballot. And congratulations to all of the following NDUrecommended candidates from across the state, for winning their races to serve in the North Dakota Legislature:
North Dakota House Candidates: District 3, Andy Maragos of Minot; District 9, Tracy Boe of Mylo and Marvin Nelson of Rolla; District 11, Kris Wallman and Ron Guggisberg of Fargo; District 17, Mark Sanford of Grand Forks; District 21, Mary Schneider and Kathy Hogan of Wahpeton; District 25, Alisa Mitskog of Wahpeton; District 27, Thomas Beadie of Fargo; District 35, Bob Martinson of Bismarck; District 37, Mike Lefor of Dickinson; District 41, Pamela Anderson of Fargo; and District 43, Lois Delmore of Grand Forks. North Dakota Senate Candidates: District 1, Brad Bekkedahl of Williston; District 7, Nicole Poolman of Bismarck; District 9, Richard Marcellais of Belcourt; District 11, Tim Mathern of Fargo; District 13, Judy Lee of West Fargo; District 17, Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks; District 21, Carolyn Nelson of Fargo; District 23, Joan Heckaman of New Rockford; District 35, Erin Oban of Bismarck; District 37, Rich Wardner of Dickinson; and District 41, Kyle Davison of Fargo. We would encourage any of our members to reach out [http://www.legis.nd.gov/ assembly/64-2015/members/] to these legislators, particularly those who serve in your district, and thank them for all of the great work they’ve done in the past, and the work they promise to do in the future, to support public education, our higher education system and public services in North Dakota, and all of our public educators and employees who work hard every day for all our state’s citizens. Thank you for your service! 22
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NEA Members Insurance Trust is a registered trademark of the NEA Members Insurance Trust. ndunited.org
ESP CONFERENCE HELD Jamestown hosts annual get-together of educational support professionals By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications
There are many parts at work each day in our public schools, helping to make them function so efficiently. There are teachers in every classroom, directly in charge of educating young minds and forming their characters into respectable adults, but they have a lot of assistance in doing what they do. The staff of our public schools is filled out by Educational Support Professionals (ESP), doing all the extra work needed every day to provide students the education they need and they deserve. They are our bus drivers, custodians, nurses and health aides, secretaries, paraprofessionals and more. They keep our kids healthy; they feed them, get them to school on time, protect them, guide them through school and deliver them safely back home at the end of the day. ESPs are invaluable to the process of education. We are all profoundly grateful for the service they do each day for our kids. North Dakota United honors their service annually at our NDU State ESP Conference. This year’s conference was held at the Quality Inn in Jamestown on Oct. 3-4, 2014. ESP members of NDU from all across the state gathered together to meet, to greet, to learn from each other and from the sessions offered at the conference, and to share their own stories with their peers. The ESP Conference started on Friday evening, Oct. 3, with a social for all the attendees who came in early. The conference got underway early the next morning, Oct. 4, with registration and breakfast served at 8 a.m. NDU President Nick Archuleta welcomed everyone in attendance, and thanked all of our ESPs across the state for their hard work and passion for what they do. Sessions were held to discuss topics such as union values, member benefits and stress relief. The primary focus for learning at this year’s conference was the NDU Hostile Workplace Seminar, hosted by NDU UniServ Director Jane Rupprecht and NDU general counsel Mike Geiermann, and open to any public employees and educators who wished to attend in the Jamestown area. Attendees were provided a better understanding of how bullying takes place too often in the workplace, how to identify bullying behaviors and harassment, and talk about what a person can do to protect themselves and push back against hostile behavior. Geiermann covered how the law defines harassment and bullying in the workplace, and answered questions from the audience concerning real cases he has dealt with in North Dakota, and offered his insight. The ESP of the Year award is given out to one recipient each year. This year, there were three finalists in attendance: Connie Deutsch of Fargo, Heidi Schostek of Dickinson and Julie LaFrance of Minot. This year’s winner was Julie LaFrance, who was awarded an engraved watch, flowers and other gifts, as well as the admiration of her peers. North Dakota United thanks all of our great ESP members in attendance at this year’s conference and all the ESPs at work each day in every school in every community of our state. For all that you do and all that you are, you are irreplaceable and invaluable in providing a bright future to our students and to our entire state. 24
ND United Voices
Upper Left: Participants listen intently at 2014 ESP State Conference. Upper Right: Attorney Mike Geiermann talks about bullying in the workplace. Middle Left: Julie LaFrance of Minot won ESP of the Year. Middle Right: Alan Leintz, left, of Minot helps to demonstrate proper high-five form with NDU Assistant Executive Director Stuart Savelkoul. Bottom Left: NDU President Nick Archuleta addresses the group. ndunited.org
NDU HOSTS FALL CONFERENCE Annual convention concentrated on student assessment By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications
The annual North Dakota United Fall Conference has been called different names in year’s past, including Instructional Conference or Teacher’s Convention. Its purpose remains the same: provide professional development and learning opportunities to our K-12 instructors across the state. The 2014 NDU Fall Conference was held on Oct. 16-17 at the new Mandan Middle School. Teachers from all over North Dakota gathered together to learn more about assessment. “As professional educators, we know that testing can reveal a great deal about the depth of knowledge a student has and her level of competency,” said Nick Archuleta, president of NDU. “Tests can also reveal shortcomings and gaps in student knowledge. The purpose of the Conference this year is to assist teachers in turning the data gathered from tests into effective classroom strategies that increase student achievement. The keynote speaker of this year’s conference was Rob Weil, the director of educational research for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). His presentation concentrated on data of what the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) text results actually say about America’s place in the international education community. Those in attendance were all very impressed and charged up by Weil’s presentation. Jennifer Unger and Naomi Nelson of the Technical Education Research Center (TERC) led a very interactive, hands-on approach to presenting their Introduction to Effective Use of Classroom Data. Participants were asked to get up and move, talk and work together in teams throughout the four-hour program, learning more about formative vs. summative assessment, student progress monitoring, meeting state or district student learning targets, processes that support collaborative inquiry for instructional improvement and effective professional learning communities. The first day of the Fall Conference was finished out by a light-hearted look at How to Manage Stress with motivational speaker Ann Dolence. Those in attendance laughed and smiled their way through the presentation, as it was kept playful, funny, creative and asked teachers to celebrate life’s process of re-energizing and revitalizing ourselves. The second day of the Fall Conference was dedicated to breakout sessions. Karen Christensen, a fifth-grade teacher and vice president of education for NDU, presented on Using Student Learning Objectives, based on her practice in serving on the Education Standards and Practices Board. Formative Assessment and the Smarter Balance Digital Library was the focus of Mary McHugh, who has worked as a middle school math teacher and currently as a staff developer for Bismarck Public Schools. Dr. LeAnn Nelson, assistant chair in the Education Department at University of Jamestown and previously the director of teaching and learning for North Dakota United, shared her knowledge on Connecting Classroom Data to Teacher Evaluation. And Billy Demaree, currently a member of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Development and Implementation Team, led his session on the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Learning Continuum and Other New Tools for Informing Instruction. Assessments of the conference were positive from those educators in attendance, and hopefully a lot of understanding was gained by our teachers in how to use student assessment to inform and evolve your own teaching methods and develop themselves professionally in the classroom. 26
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Motivational speaker Ann Dolence finished the first day of the conference with a light-hearted look at “How to Manage Stress” while those in attendance laughed and smiled.
Jennifer Unger of Technical Education Research Center presented “Introduction to Effective Use of Classroom Data. Participants were asked to get up, move, talk and work together. Keynote speaker Rob Weil from AFT spoke about America’s place in the international education community.
Assessments of the conference were positive from those in attendance. Participants laugh at Ann Dolence’s presentation.
NDU President Nick Archuleta said the purpose of the conference was to assist teachers in effective classroom strategies. NDU Vice President Karen Christensen presented a session on “Using Student Learning Objectives. Dr. LeAnn Nelson shared her knowledge on Connecting Classroom Data to Teacher Evaluation.
LAFRANCE WINS 2014 ESP OF THE YEAR Being an ESP in Minot is what she’s ‘meant to do’ By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications
When the nominees were announced for North Dakota United’s Educational Support Professional (ESP) of the Year award at this year’s state ESP Conference, Julie LaFrance of Minot was not prepared to hear her name as one of the three finalists. “No, I didn’t even know I was nominated!” LaFrance said with a laugh. “It was funny because I talked to (ESP Director on NDU Board) Tyann Schlenker, and I said, ‘Who’s nominated?’ … and she said Heidi Schostek (of Dickinson) was nominated and I think Connie Deutsch (of Fargo) is, and there’s somebody else, but I’m not sure’ ... So I’m sitting there, we were trying to eat really fast and I have food in my mouth, and all of a sudden they called my name, and I’m like, ‘Really!?’” As unprepared as she was to be among the finalists, she was doubly unexpecting to hear her name as the winner. “I went up there and I’m thinking, ‘OK, this is a nice gesture, but Heidi’s going to win.’ And then Pam calls my name, and I look at Tyann and go, ‘You’re joking,’ and she’s laughing because she knew! She knew the whole time! So I was totally unprepared and not ready.” ESP is a title that LaFrance has carried with pride for over 20 years. She began her career as a special education para-educator in her home state of Oregon, after first working as a preschool teacher. “And then a friend of mine got on in the school district there and said I should come in,too, and kind of get my foot in the door,” LaFrance said. “And so I did. It started out to be just a job, and ended up to be something that I love to do. Now it’s just a passion. This is what I was meant to do. Most people go through life wondering what it is they were meant to do. I feel like this is where I was meant to be.” She worked 10 years in Oregon before moving to Minot in 1998. She took four years off from working to stay home with her kids while they were little. In 2002, she thought she was ready to get back into work and was hired to work as a special education paraeducator for Minot Public Schools. LaFrance describes her typical day on the job as being very diligent in working directly with special-needs students, and helping them 28
to get through the day. “Our classroom,” she said, “we have a wide variety of ranges, from severely handicapped to slightly. We have sixth seventh and eighth graders. Some of the kids go out to regular ed classes, and we go with them. I, right now, have the eighth grade kids. And I go out to Earth Science with them and to U.S. History. There’s three this year. And basically I just help them stay organized, keep them on task. The teachers do some modifications for them – like if they’re take a test or something and on a question there’s a choice of four, they might make it a choice of three or two, depending on their level of ability. We’ll make study guides for them, and make sure it gets home. … We read the test to them, go over it with them and try to teach them some strategies. If you don’t know it, let’s skip it. We don’t sit here all day, looking at the same problem.” The teachers that LaFrance works with are highly appreciative of the assistance she offers them and to the students who need the extra help. Steven Fogarty, a science teacher at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot, recommended LaFrance for the ESP of the Year award based on her “impeccable character and exceptional talent.” “From day one of her tenure,” Fogarty said, “she earned my respect and admiration as a skilled and dedicated professional whose passion has been in helping children overcome their personal limitations. Through her persistent and patient encouragement, she has, on a yearly basis, guided her students down the avenues of hard work and to levels of success … and though she has an impressive repertoire of talents and personal experience, it is my belief that these elements should not obscure the personal virtues that make her so effective, namely her wonderful senses of enthusiasm and demonstrable love for children.” LaFrance came to North Dakota from a “fair share” state in Oregon, where ESPs were automatically part of their unions, and contracts were negotiated. When she started work in Minot, it was her immediate intent to join her union, but she found that difficult to do. “It took a while, because I had talked to some teachers who said, ‘No, I don’t think you can join because this is a teachers union,’ or I was told I could join, but that I would be charged the full amount of dues that teachers pay, which I couldn’t afford. It wasn’t until I ND United Voices
received a postcard in the mail from AFT (American Federation of Teachers). They were coming around and they were trying to get the custodians and bus drivers organized, so they sent out postcards. So I ended up going to an AFT meeting; Gary Feist (NDU vice president of public employees) was the main speaker, and it just so happened that an ESP who belonged to the Minot Education Association was at this meeting, and she’s like, ‘OK, we have to find out who this is.’ Because I talked! I said, ‘Yeah, I want to join! Sign me up!’” She would attend the first state ESP Conference in 2007, and has routinely attended representative assemblies and delegate assembly for North Dakota United since then. She serves as the ESP representative for MEA and attends all monthly BR meetings. She has brought a sense of urgency to organizing ESPs in Minot. Each month, she organizes and chairs meetings for ESPs, and encourages current members to bring their colleagues who may want to join. She has pushed hard to form a committee to meet with the Minot district superintendent to discuss the possibility of a “Meet and Confer” option, because ESPs in North Dakota do not have bargaining rights. With “Meet and Confer,” this group could officially meet with administration and work on important issues for ESPs, as well as lame the groundwork for a contract in the future. “When I first started, I think Minot had 20 ESPs. And we sat at that mark for a long time; we’d lose a couple, we’d gain a couple, but we just weren’t making any headway. But last year, we actually went over 33 to 35, somewhere in that range. … It’s been really nice to be active and get going. I’ve been very pleased with what we’ve accomplished in the last two years.” “Julie has worked tirelessly in recruitment and retention of ESP members, as well as teacher members,” said Lisa Wolf, a business education teacher at Minot High Central Campus and vice president of Minot Education Association. “She is and has always been our ‘go-to’ person for every ESP event. She is always looking for and willing to try new recruitment ideas for our ESPs. Julie’s response is always, ‘I’ll do that’ when asked. Her positive attitude and hard work has increased our ESP membership to our current level.” LaFrance remains modest about her accomplishments, as a professional, and union member and organizer, though. Thus was why she felt caught off-guard when her name was announced as the winner of the ESP of the Year award. I’m very honored because … at the national conferences, the people who win awards there, and you look at all of the stuff that they do … And you look at even the gals like Audrey (Haskell) and Carla (Eisenzimmer), who have won in previous years, and they’ve all done such wonderful things and they’ve moved to a whole different level. And I’m just an everyday ESP out here. But I’m very honored.” North Dakota United and Minot Education Association feel similarly honored to count Julie LaFrance as a member and a leader. ndunited.org
For this issue of the Public Record Q&A feature, we sat down with both legislators
in Fargo, to get a preview of what NDU members can expect to see in the Legislature from these two rising stars in their parties and in their public service to the state of North Dakota.”
Q&A WITH PAMELA ANDERSON AND KYLE DAVISON Newly elected legislators from District 41 in Fargo By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications
Following the November election, two new legislators were chosen to represent the citizens of District 41 in south Fargo. On the Senate side, Kyle Davison was elected to replace the retiring senator of that district, Tony Grindberg. Davison has lived and worked in Fargo in workforce development at the Skills and Technology Training Center for 15 years, and has been the executive director for the South East Education Cooperative for the past 10 years. On the House side, Pamela Anderson was the top vote-getter in the district, and will replace Bette Grande and serve alongside House Majority Leader Al Carlson. Anderson moved to Fargo in 1973 and worked in banking. She retired from Wells Fargo as Senior Vice President in 2005 with more than 30 years of executive experience in the banking industry. Davison, a Republican, and Anderson, a Democrat, were both recommended by North Dakota United (NDU) to voters in District 41, and are now entering their first Legislative Session, beginning in January. For this issue of the Public Record Q&A feature, we sat down with both legislators in Fargo, to get a preview of what NDU members can expect to see in the Legislature from these two rising stars in their parties and in their public service to the state of North Dakota. Q: What issues are you most excited to advocate for in this upcoming session? PA: “State funding for pre-K and Head Start early childhood education. I would like to see more economic development programs through the Bank of North Dakota. I don’t know what’s going to be the big overriding, big issue yet. The bills are just starting to come through. One thing I feel pretty passionate about is I don’t think we ought to change the (state employee) retirement system. And I know there’s already a bill in to do that. That would be something that I would work hard to keep.” KD: “I know, for me, there are two bigger issues, and then there are smaller issues within the bigger issues. The first one is education. Early childhood education is critical to move forward, to get something off the ground in North Dakota. We have some things here in Fargo, we have Even Start. We use some of our dollars currently through special education; we invest in early childhood education, 0 through 6, I believe, with our IDEA funds and have investments 30
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in special education for early childhood education. So I think we need to find out what is the next level.” Q: If we were to use the state’s budget surplus to create a world-class educational system in North Dakota, one that is the envy of all other states but also internationally, what are some of the ideas for what we can do to achieve that? PA: “I think the challenge that North Dakota has right now is balancing short-term needs and long-term needs. The Legislature will need to do that, set priorities, and we need to figure it out. I think if we could say that every child, by the time they leave third grade, is a proficient reader. Perhaps that may mean, in some cases, English as a second language for more teachers. It might mean smaller classrooms. It might mean different teacher ratios of paras and special-needs. But if we can say every third-grader will be able to read proficiently, we will have a worldclass education system. I agree with Kyle that we need to increase the percentage of students graduating from our colleges, and maybe that’s seeing that they get to the right colleges to begin with. I support the increase in the requirements for the two research colleges as a starting point. Then, we have to retain incredible teachers, and recruit them.” KD: “The things that I think that need to happen to create a world-class education system, the biggest challenge we have right now is attracting new teachers to the profession.
So again, I go back to, teachers are the most important people in the classroom, and we really need to build that teacher capacity. We’ve done a good job of moving forward and really focusing on, it isn’t about teachers and what they’re teaching, it’s really understanding what it is that kids learn. In order to build a world-class system, you have to have teachers that understand assessment and understand that it’s about what kids are learning in their classroom. It isn’t about what teachers are teaching, it’s about did the kids really learn something? “The second thing is we need to work stronger with our university system in our teacher-education programs. I think we’re doing a good job currently. We have a Bush grant that NDSU, Valley City and Moorhead State are involved in, but we need to continue to make that connection and understand the things that are changing in the classroom and in schools. Those things have to be brought back in to our teacher-preparation programs so we are not backtracking when we get new teachers and having to spend a lot of time, that there is a more seamless transition for new teachers into our schools in North Dakota.” Q: If you could play a role in changing a current policy or law in place that is not working, what would that be? PA: “That’s actually a good question. Maybe it would be to have less – like we both talked about – Democrat versus
Republican, urban versus rural, East versus West. That we just get beyond those labels; it doesn’t matter where a good idea comes from.” KD: “There are probably two or three for me, but I’ll pick one of them. I think we really need to move away from seat time. I think we need to move away from the requirements of how long a child has to sit in the seat to get half a credit for a certain class. I think we know enough about assessment and understand where kids are as far as their learning goes. And so I really think that we need to give schools more flexibility in how we look at seat time in relationship to credits and relationships to how we educate kids. That’s probably a simple way to put it. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but I think we need to continue to give schools flexibility in how they work with students.” Q: What are your own personal thoughts and feelings about the Governor’s budget proposal for the next biennium? PA: “I was very happy to see the start of pre-K childhood education. I was also very happy to see the additional FTEs in the western part of the state, for the drug and alcohol and the human trafficking, for the law enforcement, the additional FTEs for the Attorney General, as additional regulatory FTEs. I thought, for a starting point, the budget was very good. I also like the 60 percent funding back to the oil-impacted counties. I wasn’t sure what that percent should be, if it should be more than 25 percent, and he started at 60 percent. So I was pleased to see that.” KD: “I was happy with the Governor’s budget. One thing in particular that was coming under the radar but would have an impact in District 41 is the North Dakota State College of Science is looking to build a new facility, to work collaboratively with Cass County schools, not only to have college, an NDSCS branch here in Fargo, but to also work with schools as they continue to grow to partner with stronger CTE, career and technical education classes. I could see kids coming into one side of the building from the high school standpoint, and kids coming in from another side of the building from the college standpoint, and having labs in the middle of the building, that kind of concept. The Governor included $5 million in his budget to perhaps purchase land and continue moving the process forward. I would’ve liked to see something more like $10 million, but that can happen through the legislation process. 32
Q: Finally, what should NDU members expect to see from you as a legislator this session? KD: “From the perspective of NDU members, it’s continuing to build and invest in education, whether it’s at the secondary level or the post-secondary level, as well as state employees. And looking at how we need to come up with a long-term solution from a standpoint of the retirement system, so that needs to be discussed, what that solution is. That’s a good benefit for state employees, but long-term, we have to figure out and make sure that there’s enough money there to continue that investment. So what are those strategies? And how do we continue to support those employees with that benefit, and what are some other creative solutions for that? “As far as salaries go, from a school district standpoint, they’re kind of in control; that’s a local control thing. And from the university side, that comes out of the Governor’s budget, but it’s probably going to be something similar to what they’ve seen in the past. I can’t remember the exact numbers that the Governor had, but it will probably be something between two and four percent. So it’ll be consistent, but there’s a lot of ways that members get money back, like if your income taxes are reduced. There are other ways that members may see benefits, other than directly in their paycheck or their benefits. Because we want more kids, more money for their classrooms, more money for equipment, better investments in education and in their jobs, too.” PA: “I agree with Kyle, more investments in every level of education, and I think we need to make sure that the members have a very comprehensive and competitive benefits and salary package. I think we ought to make sure that they get the learning that they need to further their own professional level. We need to make sure that they stay here and that we can recruit more teachers and public employees, on all levels. I’d love to see, at some point, that we are in the top 10 in the country for teacher salaries. That would be good. That might be way out there, but that would be great for recruiting. I think our state will continue to grow, and we’re going to need to keep hiring public employees and teachers.” (To view the full conversation between Davison, Anderson and NDU, visit the News section of our website at www. ndunited.org.)
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Know Your Rights & Responsibilities EDUTECH PROHIBITS USING THEIR ACCOUNTS
If ND United does not have your home e-mail, please send it to us as soon as possible so we can update you regularly about what is going on in the 2015 Legislative Session pertaining to issues of importance to you.”
North Dakota United (NDU) recently sent out a survey to all members in order to gather home e-mail addresses. The specific reason for the survey was so NDU can contact all members directly and let them know what’s happening in the 2015 Legislative Session. EduTech prohibits use of members’ school e-mails for lobbying in any form. According to EduTech rules, access to and use of EduTech is a privilege and should be treated as such by all users. Misuse of the system is considered a violation of system policy and may also be a violation of law. This policy applies to all users of the EduTech computer system. EduTech rules further state that use of computer system and databases shall be limited to the purpose(s) for which access was granted. Use of services for political (lobbying) purposes, for gaining business contacts or for personal or private profit is prohibited. EduTech rules state lobbying includes but is not limited to: Group efforts to contact state officials regarding policies and legislation Contacting state officials to a degree outside the normal functions of your district responsibilities Contacting others to encourage or instruct them in performing political/lobbying actions The following actions are not considered lobbying and are considered acceptable use of EduTech services: Contacting your legislator or appropriate state officials to respond to requests for information Contacting your legislator or appropriate state officials if such contact is a function of your district responsibilities Providing information to your peers regarding legislative actions Superintendents and principals are allowed to use EduTech for lobbying because it is considered a part of their job description. However, if NDU members from K-12 teachers and support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees on the city, county or state level, are going to contact their legislators, they must use their home e-mail. If ND United does not have your home e-mail, please send it to us as soon as possible so we can update you regularly about what is going on in the 2015 Legislative Session pertaining to issues of importance to you. If you have a personal e-mail address, one set up through free services like Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc., and you check this address daily, THAT is the e-mail we would like you to share with us. If you don’t have one, set one up for yourself, so your e-mail becomes private. Then, send it to ND United. Simply go to http://tinyurl.com/lg7hqtz and fill out the survey, or send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your personal e-mail address. If you use comments@ ndunited.org, make sure you give us your full name, so that we are able to change your e-mail in our records.
ND United Voices
Your membership in North Dakota United makes staying informed much easier. Begin by reading this magazine from cover to cover, you’ll get information on ways to stay informed on our issues.”
YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS Makes a huge difference for you and your colleagues By Gloria Lokken, ND United Retired President The holiday season is over and we can take a little personal time. But, don’t get too comfortable, the North Dakota Legislature is in session! During the session nothing is sacred or secure. You have to stay informed, involved and use your influence. Your membership in North Dakota United makes staying informed much easier. Begin by reading this magazine from cover to cover; you’ll get information on ways to stay informed on our issues. Newspapers, television programs, computers, and community forums provide information and issue debate. An important fact to keep in mind is a bill that looks fine at introduction can become a menace by amendments and deletions. You must follow the bills as they travel from chamber to chamber. Keep an open mind, do your homework, and stay informed. Your involvement makes a huge difference. You are noticed when you attend community forums. You are doing a public service when you share your information with your family and friends and encourage their participation. Your voice is heard when you share your opinion with your legislators on the phone, through e-mail or in person. Discussing even the most contentious issues can be done with courtesy, respect and decency. Even if other participants forget their manners, you will be heard and respected when you share your opinion with facts and common courtesy. And a word of caution, check your written words for spelling, punctuation and attitude. Respect always is the best way to communicate. You have influence—use it! You have held a respected position in your community, your opinion is valued. Perhaps some of the issues push your comfort zone, but many issues are too important for us to sit back and see what happens. We must be involved in the legislation in our state when it affects our youth, our health, our public services, our needy, our safety and our pensions. Hey, folks, that is just about everything! BUT—did I mention taxes? North Dakota doesn’t need less income tax, we need less property tax. We must preserve a three-legged tax system to have more secure funding for the needs of our state. Future funding cannot be judged by the oil influence we are experiencing now. A well-funded state needs a fair tax system of income, property and sales tax. Public service is essential to our citizens and must be funded. I sincerely hope North Dakotans are not tempted to give up income tax and jeopardize our state’s ability to meet the needs of its citizens in the future. So I know you will step up once again and do your civic duty. NDU Retired are not citizens that sit back and gripe. We are citizens that are involved and make a difference. Only after we have done our very best, can we gripe if necessary and then we move on to our next effort. Thank you for all you do!
YES, SIGN ME UP NOW IN NDU/NEA/AFT-RETIRED Complete and mail with your check today, to NDU-Retired, 301 N 4th St, Bismarck, ND 58501-4020 Name: _______________________________________Social Security Number: __________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________________________ City: _________________________________________ State: ______________ Zip: ______________ Phone: ______________________________E-mail:_________________________________________ Local Association: ____________________________Signature_______________________Date______ _______ I wish to join as Annual Retired and pay $52 per year. Mail this form and your check to NDU, 301 N 4th Street, Bismarck, ND 58501-4020. (NDU membership year is from Sept. 1 to August 31.) _______ I wish to pay a one-time payment of $412 for Lifetime Retired. Expected Date of Retirement ___________ (month/year) _______ I wish to pay one payment of $52 and have 9 (nine) electronic transfers of $40 from my bank account for Lifetime Retired. ndunited.org
B LI C E D U C
E BLIC S
North Dakota United 301 N 4th St Bismarck, ND 58501-4020
ND United Voices
Published on Jan 9, 2015
In this issue of United Voices, we look forward to the upcoming 2015 N.D. Legislative Assembly. Read about the issues most important to NDU...