I tout myself as a complex problem solver. I push the agenda of Students First. Let’s see if the following solves a few problems for the school district.
- We need to get the kids back into the classroom. We need to be on the district’s blended in-person / virtual plan.
- We need to get waivers from VCPH officer for the kids to come back to reduce liability to the district.
- The Teachers Union is telling us that teachers don’t feel safe regardless of the distancing and safety protocols and may not come back to the classroom.
- The School District is between a rock and a hard place because even if the waiver is granted, if the credentialed teachers don’t show up then school will have to go back to virtual anyway.
- The teachers union is effectively getting a ‘free strike’ where they can squeeze without walking off the job.
- If we don’t get back to school soon it is estimated that thousands, possibly more than 10,000 students will not be returning to Simi Schools thereby costing the district millions of dollars starting in 2021 and forcing the closure of some schools.
While I consider teachers to be essential workers and should be required to return to the classroom, I am also not opposed to creatively finding a way to get them to do that essential job. I propose the following that will solve most of the problems above.
First: Get the waiver. It is essentially being offered to the district by VCPH if we will ask for it.
Let’s dip into the emergency reserves of the district and pay a hazard bonus. It would go to the following employees: Any employee that is in a classroom, on campus, when children are present. This would amount to about half of the district employees.
We pay a ‘bonus’ of $100 per day they are on campus with students and it lasts for only the Fall session; October and November. This would cost the district about $3,000,000 from the $39,000,000 in the reserves.
The cost of losing the students could be $3,000,000 or more per year starting 2021 and for every year after.
Teachers Union gets a win because they got something out of using the disaster to the advantage of the teachers. I know of several teachers that will be livid if they can’t get back into the classroom. There is desire by many teachers to return. With the bonus they will demand to return. The only real block is the teachers union.
Kids K-3 go back to campus. The rest of the district follows the safe back to school protocols of blending virtual and in-person learning.
For teachers, like any employee, if there is a true set of circumstances that make you high risk for yourself and / or family for Covid mortality, there are accommodations for making the job as safe as it can be like remote teaching. These are the exceptions and not the rule. Also, we cannot hold all in-person teaching until every teacher can return safely. It is not reasonable or fair.
Since I am just a Trustee candidate, I don’t have all of the variables and district information available to me. My solutions, however, seem to solve a lot of problems and I have not seen these discussed at Trustee meetings. I hope they are working on creative solutions to get Simi students back in class.