The Alliance has won the fight to keep the 7 ½-hour
teacher workday in SAISD. A proposed policy change, which would have given the superintendent carte blanche in setting the length of the workday, was voted down by the SAISD School Board at their June 27 meeting. The Alliance was the only organization to lobby the Board members on the issue, the only
organization to speak out on this issue, and the only organization with representatives present at the Board meeting.
The administration’s recommendation to do away with the 7 ½ hour workday for teachers first went before the Board on June 22. At that meeting, Alliance President Shelley
Potter told the Board: “The language that the administration proposes to eliminate was added a number of years back because of excessive abuses of the teacher workday. That language was carefully crafted to address the abuses while still allowing principals the flexibility to keep teachers beyond the regular workday a reasonable amount of time for faculty meetings and professional development. Our SAISD policy is viewed by teachers across the state as a model policy.”
Potter also noted that the proposed policy change had not been vetted in the usual way. It
had not been discussed in Consultation, did not go to the district’s Policy Review Committee, and was put before the Board for both first and second reading at the same meeting.
Alliance members Ed Ramos-Echandi (Green ES), Jo Castillo (Fenwick ES), and John Courage (Jefferson HS) also spoke at the Board meeting and did an outstanding job of articulating concerns with the proposed policy.
While the administration stated that they wanted to increase the teacher workday to 8 hours, the proposed language would have actually have allowed the superintendent to set the workday at whatever length he chose. The proposed policy would have taken control
of the employee workday length completely away from the School Board and contained no safeguards whatsoever against abuse of employees.
The Board delayed action and set another meeting on the issue for June 27. The Alliance held a June 24 meeting to get feedback from teachers on the proposed policy. The Alliance recommended to the Board that the district take the time needed to come up with a thoughtful, research-based approach to quality and quantity of instructional time to implement in the 2012-13 school year.
Alliance leaders developed an alternative to try to meet some of the administration’s goals. The alternative would have kept the teachers work day at 7 ½ hours while
increasing the elementary and middle school student day to 7 hours, 20 minutes. SAISD high schools already have a 7 hour, 30 minute student day. The Alliance also stated that the administration’s recommendation to simply add 3-4 minutes per period at the secondary level did not make sense and suggested looking at options that would be more beneficial for use of any additional time.
Ultimately, the School Board made one change to current policy by modifying the section of the current policy that limits meetings beyond the 7 ½ hour day. The language will now read: “A principal may require teachers to be on duty more than seven and one-half hours a day, as long as the additional time does not exceed a total of 180 minutes in a period of four weeks and no single meeting or training exceeds 90 minutes in length.” The previous limitation was 90 minutes in a two-week period. This change does not increase the overall time a principal may keep teachers but does give more flexibility in the configuration of that time.
The Alliance thanks Olga Hernandez for making the motion to leave the current policy in place with the modification noted above. Board members voting in favor of the motion were Olga Hernandez, Ed Garza, Carlos Villarreal, James Howard, and Patti Radle. Voting against was Adela Segovia. Ruben Cuero was not present at the meeting due to a family commitment.
The Alliance leaders also thank the Alliance members and other employees who attended the Alliance meeting and the Board meetings.