by Marisa Hanson
It is hard to believe it is already November and that this is my tenth year as ESTA president. So much has happened in those ten years and it has been a pleasure to get to know so many of you well. I have attended weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, and other celebrations that members have invited me to. In addition, I have attended more funerals then I could have ever imagined. I have spoken to many loved ones as they worked through issues when an active member has passed. There have been quite a few over the years, but I am glad that I have been able to provide good resources for those families in need. Sometimes we laughed together, sometimes we cried together, but thankfully there have been many good memories of some exceptional members to cherish. Talking to their families has given me a little more insight about who these members really were. Again unfortunately this year, we did have another active member pass away in August and it once again reminded me that life is precious and we need to make sure to live our lives to the fullest. It also reminded me to express to all of you to please make sure your beneficiaries are up to date and that you have policies in place to provide for your loved ones should something unexpected happen to you.
Now, I do have some good news, we are on year two of our three-year contract and that hasn’t happened in a while during my years as president due to the budget crisis. Also, some more good news: our district is back to having a $262 million dollar budget with ESTA having 1,210 members. Also, we have fully restored class size and the district understands that class size is a priority and has already told the bargaining team that there may be a proposal in reduction in some areas in the near future. Plus, we can’t forget that during the worst budget crisis in CA education history, we maintained our fully covered medical benefits. We all sacrificed a lot, and it is great to see our salary increase over the past four years; 1.98% (2013-2014), 5.156% (2014-2015), 4.25% (2015-2016) and 2.25% (2016-2017). This does help offset our increased household expenses and the increase costs of STRS to each of us.
In February of 2017, we will bargain benefits and salary for the 2017-2018 school year. By that time, we will have a clearer picture of what the funds for 2017-2018 will look like. A lot is riding on this election. If Prop 55 passes, it will mean funds to continue where Prop 30 left off. We don’t know how much funds at this point, so it will be a waiting game until the Governor’s budget is presented in early January 2017. I will be going to Sacramento a week after the budget is presented for a presentation that will give us some additional insight. Then later that month, the ESTA Chief Negotiator Edward Youngblood and I will be going to an additional CTA meeting for more complete information. Then the ESTA Executive board will meet with our CTA Staff, Bruce Berg, and together we will come up with a salary proposal to sunshine at the February board meeting.
The goal is to always finish bargaining and vote on a tentative agreement prior to going on summer vacation. The school board has assured ESTA that they want this too, and they have said they will not approve the district to going to impasse. We all know what going to impasse for two years in a row did to the morale of members, so I really want to believe the school board when they say that they too want a salary agreement prior to leaving for summer vacation.
I am very proud of the fact that the ESTA Organizing Team did such a great job last negotiations to secure us a contract. Three of our feeder districts have presidents that share an office with me and all of them do not have a contract for this year yet. One of those districts is at impasse and the other two are just starting negotiations this month for this year. It doesn’t seem right and I hope their districts will follow our lead and begin negotiating in good faith. Organizing is a must!
It is sad that in the much better times that we are in right now, many districts in CA are still fighting to restore salary, benefits, and class sizes. Unions are going on strike all over CA and I feel for those unions under that type of stress. I am proud to say that the ESTA Assembly supported the Yuba Teachers strike fund and they were very grateful to receive our support. They are still collecting funds, so if you would like to donate, let me know. They were on strike for two weeks and the funds they receive allows them to give hardship grants to those members who need the funds to pay bills.
So for now, as we enter November, I want to wish you all a great Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. I know I enjoy spending Veteran’s Day with my husband and my father who proudly served our county in the Armed Forces. A lot of local businesses offer free meals to give them thanks and we will surely be at one of those places. For Thanksgiving this year, I plan to give thanks for all the good things I have and especially for my son who was born in 2013 and who is now enjoying pre-school and learning from some great teachers every day! It’s nice to know that we live in some of the best school districts in the state and I am very proud to be a part of that practice.
Benefits Committee Chair
We had our first benefits meeting of the year and there was much discussion regarding the Pomco transition. As you are probably aware, our self-insured PPO was administered by UAS in the past, and we transitioned to POMCO on July 1st. There were some problems as can be expected in any transition. PPO members also were switched to a new prescription drug provider- Optum, which may have caused some short-term issues. Make sure you contact Marissa Juarez at the District Office, 347-5141 or call the 1800 number if something doesn’t sound right to you.. According to my records, the POMCO number is 1 844 344-8320. PPO members should also go to myPOMCO.com to register so they can track their out-of-pocket expenses, see their current prescriptions, see a list of POMCO physicians and hospitals, and have access to their ID card, They can also download a mobile app.
If you have any new school year get healthy resolutions, be sure to check out POMCO’s wellness portal where you will find wellness coaching and health risk assessment tools.
PPO members may have received a letter from UAS asking them to send in their social security numbers. Hopefully, if you received this letter, you did send in your information, as I am told UAS needs this information in order to correctly report to the IRS that you did have full medical coverage for tax purposes. Because of the ACA, it is now required to have medical coverage and UAS, and POMCO will be reporting to the IRS that you and your dependents did have coverage so that you will not have to pay penalties. This is why they are asking to confirm social security numbers. Some members may be concerned about whether or not the letter was legitimate, but we were told that it was.
If you go to kp.org and click on the “Health and Wellness” tab, you will find lots of information on online courses, podcasts, classes, meditations, wellness coaching, as well as articles on conditions and diseases, nutrition and recipes, fitness, and alternative care, stress management, etc. This site is open to non-Kaiser members as well.
Much like Kaiser, Anthem offers articles, videos, and much more at the website
Fun Member Benefits
Don’t forget to check out discounts at CTAMemberBenefits.org
Look for discounts on restaurants, travel, auto and home insurance, rental cars, wireless, and more
Check out Click & Save at www.neamb.com/clickandsave for discounts on your favorite stores and merchants.
To get your two free magazine subscriptions go to www.neamb.com/cta-get2
You do have to create a log on in order to access the CTA and NEA websites.
FROM THE EDITOR
by Mike Brennan
For various reasons, I found myself announcing my retirement to my students a week before the end of the second grading period this year. Chief among them was the fact that I had spent half my life studying literature and thought that it was time to write something of my own. Not in the least, was my chagrin at the modern philosophy on the part of administrators of wishing to create cookie cutter teachers to fit into cookie cutter classrooms full of the newest technology combined with a respectable testing regime. Administrators who, after admonishing teachers to make their lessons interesting and understandable to all students, go on to make their teachers sit through never ending presentations. These same administrators can expertly assure you that they are able to judge the difference between good teaching and bad teaching yet can’t seem to get anything else right when it comes to running an institution.
The first thing that went out was an email to my colleagues. Next, I had students coming to me to find out if it was true. If you want students to know something, tell the teachers, I mused. What first felt like a betrayal became a boon, for the heart felt well wishes of a multitude of students buoyed my spirits. I truly did love teaching and, regarding retirement, there was always that question at the back of my mind, “am I doing the right thing?” I do appreciate my colleagues who informed on me to my former students. Regardless of how things turn out, it was an uplifting thing to learn just how much I had affected my former students.
I had been told that there was no way for the district to keep me if I insisted on retiring in the middle of the year but I’m not so callous that I would leave my employer in the lurch if it had been pointed out to me that staying on a bit longer would be advantageous to finding a suitable replacement. I went to the district office and submitted a request to retire and it was accepted immediately. I gave them three weeks notice and was gratified to meet my replacement the day before I left and found her to be an entirely capable and well prepared woman. It was reassuring to know that I was leaving my students in good hands.
A great question in my mind was when was the right time to make the announcement to those students who hadn’t been privy to the earlier email to my colleagues. My colleagues helped me with that because over the course of a few days the comments and conversations happening in class made the announcement a foregone conclusion. This was another boon from my colleagues because if I had waited until the last couple of days I was to work, there would have been fewer instances for my students, both past and present, to express their appreciation of me as a teacher and a person. I have to say that I became a teacher because I thought it was the most worthwhile thing I could do with my talents and appreciation from students who often seemed resentful of the tasks I produced was the last thing I expected. Not least of my rewards from teaching was this show of appreciation. However; upon the out pouring of love and admiration from my students, I actually thought twice about whether to retire, for a very small part of a second. After all, my plans were made.
I left work on my last day with a full heart knowing that the last 18 years of my life were spent doing something fruitful that made a difference.
WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER
by Laura Rice
Like many of you, I devoted a considerable amount of my free time this summer preparing for the upcoming school year. During the month of June I allotted four hours a day to peruse Pinterest for all the best ideas on creating an organized and inviting classroom. July was spent installing interactive corkboards, hand painting student cubbies, and learning calligraphy so that all labels had an elegant, old world feel. While I labored for free, my sweet spouse repaired all the chairs with wobbly legs, and resurfaced all the tabletops with a finish so velvety and shiny, that I know the students will be able to pick up on the subliminal message, “Your future is bright!”
Speaking of preparing for the fall, I hope you took advantage of all that time off to attend some professional development. It was wonderful to see a few of you at the “Making Sense of Education Acronyms” Workshop. Those in attendance all agreed that the two weeks we spent at this workshop were invaluable, and it was shocking that some of us had been teaching for years without actually knowing what BTSA and AVID stood for.
With our school schedule getting out earlier in the spring, I was grateful for those last couple of days in May to get my summer body “bikini ready.” I bought one copy of each fitness and beauty magazine at the grocery store. I cut out every article about diet and body toning and pasted them to the back of the barn. Each hour I would throw a dart and follow the advice in the article. This may seem a bit extreme, but let me tell you it works! I waxed, dieted, curled, plucked, lunged, trained, cleansed, contoured, carb-loaded, fasted, tanned, and cross-fit myself into a goddess by the first week of June!
As you all know, once school gets started, it is go, go, go! So, like many of you, I schedule as many medical appointments during our leisurely summer months as I can. In addition to the usual teeth cleaning, and check ups, I was able to squeeze in visits with my audiologist, hypnotherapist, dermatologist, podiatrist, allergist, cardiologist, gynecologist, and phrenologist. Though they all said I was in great health, my general practitioner kindly prescribed an IV drip of B12 and caffeine to keep my energy up, at least until Back to School Night.
As a preventative measure, to avoid missing valuable teaching time during the school year, I had my appendix, my gall bladder, my tonsils, and all my wisdom teeth removed. No sense having to find a qualified sub if these sick days can be avoided.
All of those appointments may have been for nothing, because this summer, I took such good care of myself, it is quite possible I will never be sick again. In addition to my end-of-May bikini boot camp, I took full advantage of my time off to clear and plant two acres of organic produce. Each day at dawn, the kids and I slathered our bodies in a liberal coating of sunscreen before heading outside to hand harvest the ripest vegetables. We then pureed them into a green smoothie with protein powder, bee pollen, cayenne, redwood duff, and algae. The taste was almost inedible, but we could feel the health benefits coursing through our veins as we choked it down. Sometimes my eldest would cry, but he has always been the theatrical one.
After our liquid breakfast our family gathered together on the back deck to roll out our yoga mats and do sun salutations until we glowed with vitality. As my youngest pointed out, there is no point taking care of your body without taking care of your soul, so we implemented a strict meditation regime for an hour each morning before I drove them to soccer camp, karate lessons, French tutoring, diving team, and theater practice. I used the driving time to listen to language lessons. I am proud to say, that after our lengthy summer, I am now fluent in Spanish and conversationally adept at Mandarin.
At the beginning of the summer, my children began begging me for a puppy. My only requirement was that it be a Labrador. They could choose the color: white, golden, chocolate, or black. My middle child, bless her activist heart, insisted that being forced to choose automatically instilled notions of “a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority,” to use her words. We compromised by getting one of each color. Luckily, having the entire summer off meant that I could devote uninterrupted time to training them. By July all four dogs were responding with 95% accuracy to both verbal and visual commands, while winning ribbons at the local 4H competitions.
In order to raise well-rounded children and to have some travel experiences to brag about during the half day of professional development we get before the students return, my spouse I and decided to take the family on a trip. We thought it best to schedule our travels between the kitchen remodel and the autumn harvest. (We needed all hands on deck for the canning and dehydrating.) It was tricky to plan since our youngest insisted that we see some glaciers before they all disappear, and also she wanted to be in Rio for the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympics, but by taking a red-eye flight home, pulling a couple of all-nighters and having the eldest watch the puppies, the rest of us were able to get those gleaming jars of marinara sauce, blackberry jam, and pickled okra, on the shelves of the pantry by dawn of the third day, labels hand lettered by yours truly, of course!
Anyway, school doesn’t start until tomorrow, so I am going to use the rest of my leisurely summer to cross a few things off my list and then take a little “me time.” I plan to review my retirement investments, re-pot the philodendron, detail my car, renew my passport, reorganize the shed, pack a week’s worth of healthy school lunches, and build a rain catchment system for the hydroponic tilapia farm I will build next summer.
I hope your summers were equally restful and fulfilling. See you tomorrow!
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For Real Estate Services including Selling, Purchasing, and Investing, feel free to call Zeke Aguirre, Realtor (Giuffre Properties). My phone contact is 831-331-9306. You can also find me on the Andrew Hill HS campus, extension x74265
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